This anime is extremely popular and it kind of feels like Matrix to me. They get trapped in a “gaming” world where they must get to tower 100 and defeat the boss. Should they die, their real bodies in the actual world die as well. Cool ain’t it?
Below are some anime that is rather similar to Sword Art Online.
In this anime, you get to see a rather similar plot setting to Sword Art Online. The story revolves around the main character Ryōta Sakamoto. He is nothing extraordinary in the real world. However, he is a really good video game player called Btooom!. One day, he wakes up in a different place. It appears to be a tropical island. While he is exploring the place and looking for some help and clues on how to get home, he gets attacked by a random stranger. To his surprise, the stranger threw a grenade bomb at him. Lo and behold, he soon realizes that he is literally living the video game he excels at.
The interesting part is that he gets to meet Himiko, who is also a Btooom! gamer. He gradually falls in love with her and they both made a promise to each other that they would escape the virtual world of Btooom! together and return to the real world.
In the world of 2005, a virus known as the "Pluto Sign" causes a massive Internet meltdown. It was a complete nightmare for civilians as planes collided and traffic lights cease to work. This terrible virus affects all kinds of systems, but only one remains immune to it. It is the Altmit OS. This OS lead to the creation a virtual world where player characters can explore the world, create parties and fight monsters. It is like an RPG game. You can then save your progress in town or switch servers.The creator of the game is Harald Hoerwick and he has an ultimate hidden agenda that he wants to achieve. He intends to create the smartest Artificial Intelligence(AI) by collecting player data to fulfill a wish of his. The main character of the story is Tsukasa and he is a wave master. He is trapped in the "Game World", unable to log out. The goal is to find out what all this game is all about and how to eventually "log out" and return to the real world...
[C]: Control - The Money of Soul and Possibility
This anime begins with the Japanese government in deep financial trouble. They are then bailed out by the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The economy of the country is not in good shape and plenty of people are unemployed and suffer from depression. The main protagonist, Kimimaro Yoga, is a bright student and is offered a scholarship. His dream is to live a normal and peaceful life.The twist of the plot starts when a man offers him a huge amount of money with his future as the "bet". In other words, his future could be altered should he pick up the offer. He then gets sucked into this mysterious realm known as the "Financial District", where he has to finish weekly tournaments. These tournaments are known as "Deals". Winning them allows Kimimaro to keep his money and survive the game and hence able to prevent his future from being altered...
In Accel World, you follow the story of a boy named Haruyuki Arita. Due to him being short and chubby, he is often bullied by school mates Umesato Junior High School. Due to the constant bullying, Haruyuki has extremely low self-esteem and confidence. In a bid to escape the real world, he often goes to the School's Local Network and play a game of squash all by himself. He becomes really good at it and always got the highest scores.One day, he checked his scores and found it he has been beaten by the school's Student Council Vice-President, Kuroyukihime. He tells Haruyuki about the "Brain Burst", which is a program that can improve the performance and allow humans to think at a faster rate. He then invites Haryuki to help him reach level 10 by defeating a powerful enemy known as the "Six Kings of Colour" to reveal the agenda of the "Brain Burst".
Satsuki Kakeru lives a rather lonely life after the death of her sister. Fortunately, Minase Yuka and a few friends helped her and she was able to return to her normal self. One day, the moon becomes black and sky suddenly turns red and everything surrounding Kakeru and Yuka vanishes. Within a short amount of time, monsters started appearing and invaded the streets. Thankfully, they were able to escape. It seems to them that this could have been just a dream, but it was not the case(Yikes!). This phenomenon is known as the "Red Night".They soon met 4 other humans that could have a clue what is going on. Just as they started to get acquainted to each other, 6 shadows known as the "Black Knights" appeared and wanted to destroy Kakeru and company. With the help of her friends, Kakeru vows to defeat the Black Knights to end the Red Night...
Future Diary(Mirai Nikki)
With quite an interesting plot that keeps one edged at the toe of their seats, this anime is not as popular and it is also underrated. The story begins with Yuki Amano, a loner that enjoys writing his diary with on his cell phone, talking to virtual friends Deus Ex Machina, the God of Time and Space. Deus then gives Yuki a special diary that could predict the future. He soon realizes he is joining a game of battle royale with 11 other players that also possess a special diary that can predict the future. The goal of the game is to kill the other members before the end of 90 days, with the winner becoming the new God of Time and Space.
Yuki is paired with Yuno Gasai in an attempt to fend off the other dairy users as Yuki is seen as the biggest threat out of all the diary users. Yuno is quite an obsessive character and Yuki pretends to love Yuno to use her to protect him. However, an intriguing turn of events made Yuki think twice about his actions...
There you have it! All these anime have a touch of virtual worlds instilled in it. If you really enjoyed Sword Art Online, then these anime above will probably interest you. Check them out!