From left to right: Kirito, Rika Mutsuki (me), Yashiro (my ArFA-sys buddy), and Kureha
Screenshot: Captured by me (Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet)

My past weeks have been spent digging into Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, a game where you can shoot down enemies like giant alien scorpions, other human combatants, and the plot of a self-insert fanfic. Personally, though, of equal importance is assembling outfits for me and my android companion.

Which isn’t to say the game itself isn’t up to snuff. I’ve found Fatal Bullet, the SAO series’ sci-fi shooter Gun Gale Online—the setting I would’ve most wanted to explore after seeing the show (and even further bolstered now by this season’s awesome spin-off anime)—writ into playable form, which apparently means as a Playstation 2-era-scaled loot shooter with a heavy dollop of MMO-esque mechanics, to be plenty of fun.

But the aspect that’s connected with me the most, on a human level, has been the character customization. It’s usually not like this; it’s far from the first game with micromanagement of someone’s appearance that I’ve played, and that aspect almost always fades away from focus after a while. Not so with this one.

Partially, and somewhat embarrassingly, that’s due to personal investment and bias with Sword Art Online stuff. For what’s been months now, I’ve been mulling over fan fiction-izing Gun Gale Online in my mind. Thus, when it came time to create my character in Fatal Bullet, I decided to base her name, Rika Mutsuki, and (loosely speaking) her appearance on one of the OCs from that. That perhaps makes me more invested in my avatar than a game could typically manage.

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The other part is tied more to the features of the game itself. Ironically, the fact that its customization is more comparatively limited than what bigger projects have (e.g. Grand Theft Auto)—you can’t even provide separate pieces for the top and bottom of the outfit, it’s all one piece!—actually fuels my receptiveness to it.

Having more limits makes it more accessible and less time-consuming, and not having to deal with as strongly of a specter for wasted time makes experimentation a more appealing prospect. A little less Injustice 2, a little more Splatoon, so to speak.

Even with just one single full-body outfit and two additional accessories equippable at a time, Fatal Bullet’s customization options are nonetheless sufficiently robust by offering just the right amount of depth where it matters the most. Firstly, color customization, which can be done independently on each outfit and accessory.

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Secondly, you are not limited to dressing up only your character. There is also a second character to dress up: An ArFA-sys Type X android that joins you at the beginning of the game as your trusty companion. Mine is Yashiro, named as such because his default hair color was white, but most times when he’s in the mood for a new haircut, he almost always colors it black, so his name is totally pointless 99 percent of the time. Jerk. >:c

So, as an example, here is Rika and Yashiro, each in their default Battle Jacket and ArFa-sys Suit respectively.

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Not too bad—I quite like the female Battle Jacket at that—but it still leaves plenty of room for improvement.

The moment I unlocked the ability to change out the colors of outfits, accessories, and weapons, I put them through a series of color changes and (with some additional accessories) came up with the following.

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That kicks things up a notch, if I do say so myself. Which is no small feat; in real life, I am utterly terrible where clothes coordination is concerned, so being able to say that is a minor miracle. All it took, apparently, was to take the task of matching tops and bottoms out of my hands, leave me just with the responsibility of setting the colors, and trust that I don’t somehow accidentally come up with an appalling color palette!

That thus established a particular loop: Acquire a new outfit, put it on, go into color customization, tinker around and come up with something that feels like Rika Mutsuki/Yashiro, maybe try and put some accessories with it, repeat.

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I’ve gotten rather involved in the whole pastime.

I even managed to snag Rika her own Primary Coat, which is the outfit worn by Kureha, her longtime childhood friend!

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For comparison’s sake, here’s Kureha and Rika, side by side.

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Also, while collecting screenshots for this post—right after getting the one up top at that—I accidentally stumbled upon a discovery, one that was ever more world-shattering: I could gift Kureha outfits?? That she will wear???

So, yeah...there are not just two characters whose looks can be customized. IT’S ACTUALLY THREE.

To test it out, I bought another Casual Miniskirt, then spent too long agonizing over which colors would work for Kureha—turns out it’s way harder trying to get something to work with a character that isn’t yours—and finally offered my gift.

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As I accrue more game time, everyone’s wardrobe is bound to continue multiplying. This may be getting out of hand...

In other words, good work, Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet!