Back when I reviewed the second half of the anime Sword Art Online, I lauded the sudden, and completely unexpected, ending of the series' first story arc. [*Note: This article contains major spoilers on the first story arc of Sword Art Online]
The characters had been told that the only way to end the VR death game was to beat all one hundred floors of Sword Art Online. Yet in discovering that the guild leader Heathcliff was actually the creator of the death game in disguise Kirito was given the chance to end the game 25 floors early if he could defeat Heathcliff in a one-on-one duel.
It is at this moment that the new PSP game, Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment begins. At first, the events of the battle play out exactly the same as in the anime. And then, shockingly, the scene takes a drastic turn from the story we know. Because of the appearance of several glitches, Kirito wins cleanly and decisively. Asuna doesn't sacrifice herself nor does Kirito manage to transcend the game programming itself to deal Heathcliff a mortal blow despite being already dead himself. But most unexpected of all, the Sword Art Online game doesn't end.
Confused and feeling lied to, the characters then move up to the 76th floor only to find their items and weapons glitched and everyone unable to return to any of the floors below. Soon after, to add more mystery and confusion to the narrative, Kirito’s sister—the main character from the franchise's second story arc—and Sinon—the main character of the franchise's third arc—are dragged via glitch portals into the death game. This is all the more mind boggling in the latter’s case as Sinon has, at this point in the story's timeline, never played a VRMMO before—so her very ability to access the game is a mystery in and of itself.
Thus, with a few new members, the group of heroes struggles on to conquer the remaining floors while we, the players, work to uncover the mystery of what exactly happened to divert the story from its original narrative.
To see how Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment looks in action—as well as Leafa and Sinon's new Sword Art Online-syle character designs—check out the videos above.
Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment was released on March 13, 2013 for the PlayStation Portable. There is currently no word on an international release.
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