Sword Art Online Period Cube ~ Shackles of Amadeus~ is about your search for your brother, Shiki. He’s been missing and not sending you his daily “hey what’s up” sort of texts. While searching for him, you run into your childhood friend, Hiroya. Hiroya says he played an online game with Shiki. There is a rumor about server V (which I read as five first, but it’s actually the letter V) being this secret server that you should stay away from. You go to investigate your brother’s apartment and guess what is on his computer screen? You guessed it, the game with a message stating he’s logged into server V.
Hiroya guides you to create a character so you can go into the game and ask for more information from other players. But you end up actually in the game along with Hiroya, logged into server V. If you die in the game, you die in real life. You are also some sort of special class and/or item called “Amadeus”, which is needed along with the sword of light and dark (okay, they had fancy-ass names but that’s what they are lol) in order to complete the dungeon called “Ark” and exit the game world. If you complete special quests you can go back to the real world for a few hours or more, depending on the difficulty of the quest.
Let’s not think about exactly why they go to search for her missing brother IN A VIDEOGAME rather than, IDK real life??? Why are you not reporting him missing to the police?? Especially since when you do find her brother — okay, that’s getting into spoiler territory and I’ll stop.
Just know the premise is filled with plot holes and the only way you’re going to get a semblance of enjoyment from this is to ignore them.
Libera is the girl who gets all the rares from thirsty dudes. Okay, so there’s a major/minor-ish spoiler ahead (if you research the game you know the romance characters): Libera is Riku in the real world. Riku acts like a girl online to get stuff from other players. Hmm, it was really obvious that he wasn’t a girl… I mean, from the way he acted during their dress-up session to the fact that he uses “boku” to the fact that his voice changes from higher pitched around others to lower pitched when he’s with you…
To the game’s credit, the correct response when he asks you how you feel is one along the lines of “I didn’t notice/care.” I think it’s fun that you get to meet/romance a guy who does this too.
But unlike the cliche real world trope, Riku is a totally adorable boy. As you have feelings for each other, he starts to worry that you don’t see him as a man because his avatar is a girl.
Okay, so major spoilers follow this, scroll to final thoughts if you don’t want to be spoiled. Riku is a sick child. His only escape is videogames. His brother, Natsu, and Kazuha’s brother, Shiki, were the ones who created the game. Server V is their proof of concept for digitizing the soul, thereby providing some sort of eternal life through the game. They have a much more intimate connection to the game world and each other because of this.
Because Riku is upset you may not view him as a man, he is a lot more aggressive when it comes to showing his feelings. He asks this about you a lot during the story. When you’re in the real world, he tells you that when it’s all over he wants to confess his feelings. Kazuha doesn’t have to guess how he feels about her and she’s able to process her own feelings a lot quicker than the other routes I read.
And here we have a grammar mistake annoying me at a sweet moment.
Riku has character growth, which the other men didn’t have. In fact, in all the bad endings I’ve read so far, the ending involved taking the worst trait of the bachelor and twisting it to its extreme. During the course of the story, Riku confronts his faults, learns from them, and matures. The bad ending isn’t Riku’s faults being amplified, it’s Kazuha’s twisted desires coming into light.
I can’t believe I liked the shota character this much. I usually hate those characters. The romance grew at a believable pace. Kazuha wasn’t entirely helpless and took her own initiative at many parts, to the point she almost felt like a real character rather than a self-insertion. Libera/Riku had actual character development. I loved the last CG for the good ending. Of the stories I’ve read so far, this has been the only one I actually liked by the end of it.
My heart scale is defined as follows – 5 hearts = a story everyone will fall in love with, regardless of preferences; 4 hearts = a well-done story that people who love the concept will adore, and people who don’t may end up liking it; 3 hearts = if you like this type of story or this type of hero, then you will enjoy this, but those who do not like either of those things will probably not; 2 hearts = it had potential, it squandered it; 1 heart = just a waste of time from the get-go; 0 hearts = why was this made?
Ugggghhhhhh, I am not looking forward to the “Nii-chan” route AT ALL.
This made me laugh as someone who usually plays healers.
I didn’t know which CG to put as a header image, so I picked the less spoiler-ish one with Libera. We don’t get very many CGs with his “boy” form so the few we have are a treat. As for my favorite CG, I’ll let players be treated/surprised with that one.