Sword Art Online
the TV series – have had anything to do with Sword Art Online – the game. Over multiple seasons of television and any number of spinoff stories, Kirito, Asuna, Klein, and the rest have left behind the death game that started their shared adventure, moving into new games, meeting new friends, and having new adventures.
And yet no one’s really left Sword Art Online behind. The events of the “The SAO Incident” have come to define not just the cast of characters, but even the discourse surrounding the franchise. Virtually every subsequent story-line, be it based in Gun Gale Online, ALfheim Online, or any number of new games visited by Kirito and his crew, has been compared to the original Sword Art Online thread, and often found wanting in some way.
The plot of Ordinal Scale begins: In 2022, the world of virtual reality was upended by the arrival of a new invention from a genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba. Called NerveGear, it was the first full-dive system and with it, came endless possibilities to VRMMORPGs. In 2026, a new machine called the Augma is developed to compete against the NerveGear and its successor, the Amusphere. A next-gen wearable device, the Augma doesn’t have a full-dive function like its predecessors. Instead, it uses Augmented Reality (AR) to get players into the game. It is safe, user-friendly and lets users play while they are conscious, making it an instant hit on the market. The most popular game on the system is “Ordinal Scale” (aka: OS), an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma. Asuna and the gang have already been playing OS for a while, and soon Kirito decides to join them. However, they’re about to find out that Ordinal Scale isn’t all fun and games.
However I personally think that, Ordinal Scale doesn’t carry much detail as a game, but it does provide a compelling snapshot of what people might be playing in the future, as well as a new set of challenges for Kirito and the crew to surmount. Only this time time, it’s Kirito that’s at a disadvantage.
Whereas the VR games he used to play relied on arbitrary stats or futuristic measurements of “reaction speed” to determine performance, playing Ordinal Scale is limited by the players’ own ability to move about the virtualized environment. And Kirito, after years spent as a vegetable and then later addicted to VR, is not in the best of shape. Seeing him struggle, stumble, and fall while more physically fit challengers succeed, returns to Sword Art Online a long-missing sense of adversity and progress. Where other stories tended to hinge things on viewers’ existing attachment to the cast to make plots about in-game activities feel compelling, the story here feels more natural, and even exciting, once the stakes are raised.
Check out the official trailer: