With the aid of NerveGear technology, video game players can now experience their playable worlds like never before – in virtual reality. For Kazuto Kirigaya, his game of choice is Sword Art Online. After beta testing the game, he logs into the launch and finds himself, as well as ten thousand other players, trapped in the game world.
Now his in-game character of Kirito must battle monsters throughout one hundred levels of the game in order to escape. As a solo player, Kirito must overcome his lone wolf attitude in order to escape the game where if his character dies, they die for real.
For Fans of Virtual Reality Games
Like in Sword Art Online, Log Horizon starts off with thirty thousand Japanese players of the popular Elder Tale game being unable to log out of the game with the latest update. The story focuses on the socially awkward college student Shiroe, a master strategist in-game, and his friends as they try to navigate their new reality.
If that sounds almost exactly like Sword Art Online, you are not mistaken. The only real difference between the series is the specifics of the game itself and the maturity of the characters.
In the MMORPG game simply called The World, a wavemaster by the alias of Tsukasa awakens with slight amnesia and cannot log out of the game. Believed to be a hacker with the Crimson Knights guild, Tsukasa wanders the game looking for answers and avoiding other players that seek to do him harm. After reuniting with the Crimson Knights, the players that became acquainted with Tsukasa also seek a reason as to why he cannot log out before the problem becomes worse.
.hack is actually only two years older than the light novels that Sword Art Online is based on. As such, SAO takes a good bit of inspiration to what is the father of all those virtual reality RPG anime series that you love.
Haruyuki Arita is a loser at school, constantly ridiculed by his peers. Like so many, his only escape is into the virtual world of video games. One day, his ‘leet’ video game skills attract the attention of Kuroyukihime, the school’s popular student council Vice President. She introduces Haru to a new game called Brain Burst that accelerates the human cognitive process to the point at which time appears to stop. However, it is really actually an Augmented Reality Massively Multiplayer Online (ARMMO) Fighting Game where people fight each other in fierce duels in order to obtain Burst Points which can be spent for acceleration abilities in the real world.
Unlike .hack and Log Horizon which are essentially just different versions of Sword Art Online, Accel World captures the same essence while being completely different. It captures the same virtual reality, but this time in a fighting game rather than an RPG world. If you were a fan of Sword Art Online’s action, then this is your alternative.
And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online?
After mustering his courage to ask a girl out online, Hideki “Rusian” Nishimura is crushed when she rejects him. To add insult to injury, she reveals that she is actually a man in real life. After that, he vows off women online. Years later, after the persistence of another online girl, he agrees to marry her. Although he thinks she is a man, he decides gender doesn’t matter if she is cute online. However, when his guild arranges an online meet, he finds out that she is not only a girl, but his classmate.
Like Sword Art Online, this anime has a heavy focus on online gaming. However, there is no virtual reality involved, but you still get to see their avatars in the game world. While Netoge is more about comedy and romance, it is a fun watch for those who are heavily into MMOs.
For Fans of RPG-Type Settings
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
In the city of Orario, a massive labyrinth lurks underground filled with adventure and treasure. In order to conquer the many levels of the labyrinth, humans have joined the guilds of gods and goddesses to receive their boons. Bell Cranel is a new adventurer, but due to his weakness, no guild will have him. Except for the goddess Hestia who has no followers of her own. From there, both work to fulfil their goals.
Although hidden under a healthy dose of fan service, Dungeon and Sword Art Online are actually quite similar. Although Dungeon is never referenced as a game, it does focus on the character leveling up and employing different battle strategies. Like in Sword Art Online, the more you progress, the tougher the bosses and better the loot.
Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk
Every few years when the sky-god Anu extends his protection, the monsters in the Tower of Druaga weaken and adventurers go forth for fame and fortune, trying to reach the top. Like many adventurers, Jil is young and ready to make the push towards the top. While inexperienced in the Tower, his combat skills have the promise for him to go the distance.
Weirdly enough, Druaga and SAO actually have the same plot lines in both their first and second seasons. While Druaga is not a video game, it has many of the same tropes of SAO, including similarities between the two main characters.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Thrown into a foreign land with no memory of their previous life, a group of strangers must try and survive in a brutal world filled with dangerous monsters. While the strong quickly band together, the weak are left to make a patchwork group of their own. Slowly but surely this group becomes fighters, finally earning enough to survive each day.
Although somewhat hinted at, it is never quite discussed if Grimgar is a VR game or not. Regardless, if you were fond of the emotional side of SAO, Grimgar is a perfect match. The action is slow and it takes forever for the characters to get stronger, but Grimgar does capture the particular emotions of the situation perfectly.
For Fans of Perma-Death Games
Ryouta Sakamoto is a master Btooom! player, but in the blink of an eye he finds himself stranded on an island with a great big hole in his memory. With only a few provisions and a bag of bombs, Ryouta must survive as other players in this recreated version of Btooom! tries to kill him. There is only one way out: kill seven people or die trying.
Btooom! and Sword Art Online often go hand-in-hand. Both feature main characters that are the best players in their games, both romance another lady player, and both features a perma-death penalty for losing. The only difference is in the setting, really. Although Btooom! is much more gruesome.
Lonely high school student Yukiteru Amano spends most of his youth not having fun with his friends, but rather writing a diary about what is happening around him. However, one day while talking with his imaginary god friend, Deus Ex Machina, he grants Yukiteru the power of the random dairy, which shows highly descriptive entries based on the future and forces him into a bloody battle royale with 11 other holders of similarly powerful future diaries. If he succeeds in killing each diary owner, he is to succeed Deus as a god. If not… He dies.
Both Future Diary and SAO feature worlds with technology gone awry. Within the common setting of a death game, the main characters both try to survive and save the woman that they slowly grew to love. Expect a more realistic world, some hardcore gore, and the character that introduced the world to yandere women.
Have your own recommendations for anime series like Sword Art Online? Tell us about it in the comments section below.