In an alternate universe, Earth’s population is hunted by Others – monstrous beings that feed on the brains of humans. With their ascent and assaults on cities more predictable than ever, a special task force armed with psychic abilities, are charged to repel the Others that attack the cities. Yet, an even bigger plot is amiss. Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall join the Other Suppression Force as cadets and in the fray, which is unravelling an even more sinister motive in a cyberpunk world.
The main story is split between Kasane and Yuito, with both characters on their own separate paths. This isn’t a simple gender swap by any means. Both character’s stories are told in phases, which end in a standby phase, which pauses the main story’s progression by safehouses. There are moments where one playthrough will reference something in the other’s playthrough, but these are done separately. Luckily, New Game Plus or EX New Game allows stat carry-overs to ease the second run.
Gorgeous in execution
Aesthetically, the look Scarlet Nexus was going for is done to the nines. The game is clearly gorgeous in its own execution of a game that Funimation probably tailored. If Dragonball Fighter Z is the best we’ve seen from Namco Bandai, in terms of this style, Scarlet Nexus doesn’t slouch for a place on top. Even though the cutscenes of where Nexus tries to take on a manga form, nothing is lost. Not pre-rendered. All real-time. The action is fluid enough as you and your band of three characters, with two you do not control directly, take on the Others. Dungeons are nearly straightforward, with mid-boss battles and adversary variances. Maps may have multiple points, but the character banter and cutscenes keep things at a pace. The music choices are not necessarily genre-defining, but some tracks hold their own. The English voiceovers are enjoyable, too.
Yuito and Kasane are joined by 2 other characters on-field, once more members boost the ranks. They cannot be controlled directly, as well as other members that are sitting things out – yet SAS allows the main characters to use their abilities for a brief period of time. For instance, commander and mother hen Kyoko has Duplication. If the main character activates that power, they can create a second copy of themselves and throw two objects at enemies. Or even Arashi – the speedster, which will pause everything but the main character to score hits. Yuito and Kasane do have the same power – which is telekinesis. They can hurl items at foes with breakneck speed. The PS5 haptic feedback can indicate when the main character might not have enough PP to utilise their powers. It’s not in the way, but noticeable enough to add immersion. When they do, the motors within the controller simulate a pulling feeling, which feels a bit like a nice pushback. The Guard Meters, for enemies, is a nice touch. Deplete it on them, and a quick-time event finisher will appear. Watching the mains rip Others apart never gets old.
Thanks to the progression system, characters gain abilities and stat boosts through the Brain Map. The Brain Field pushes the main character’s abilities into overdrive, accelerating the strength, mashes and crushes of said objects, for a brief moment. From oil drums, to cars, to even building concrete slabs, a lot of it is fair game to the telekinetics. Once the timer is done, the character can possibly die if they are not careful. The horrible part is some of the bosses have access to Brain Field’s power increasing ability, which enhances their gifts. Think of it as activating a shadow custom combo in a Capcom fighting game.
The teams can see everything
Supporting characters may chime in on strategies to use in terms of their own abilities. One might indicate the weakness of a monster is fire, so they’d probably suggest that the main character tag their powers in. The tag combos seen later on in the game gives you at least eight character abilities and attacks to use. Since the cast varies, their abilities do also, which compliments the mixups. You are responsible for the additional characters equipment management, which means buying new gear and potions is pretty much a part of the job. Luckily, there is an exchange system, at stores, that manages the burden of upgrades by allowing exchanges of items. It gets fun watching hammers, crossbows, swords, and even a gun, take part in 10 hit trashing.
No place like home
The safehouse harbours the team, in which the main character can unveil a potential bond episode and give characters gifts through interaction. The episodes themselves are pretty fleshed out and delve into the side characters, but is also the best way to upgrade a characters’ SAS connection. The more the members bond, the more options the main character has in terms of how to use SAS and their abilities. For instance, getting a character bond up to 3-4 can allow them to swap for a brief 5-10 seconds for an attack. This is probably where some of Scarlet Nexus’ anime traits come out to play more. The characters mostly appear as children, teens, and young adults, so you’ll get the usual tropes. Thanks to this, deeper tales can be seen. One might have abandonment issues, while another has a conflicting view about getting older. Some overlaying themes are thrown into the mix. Kagero – for one, was probably the most complex between them. The Brain Message system is almost like MSN / Google Hangouts, but like every other email system within a game, sometimes, it can be avoided or just forgotten about just the same. Because of the plot, the bond episodes can sometimes feel disjointed. How are you going to get tea to listen to a former ally, but not want to kill them for the face-off you had before.
There are seams that seem to break in Scarlet Nexus
Sidequests are not as fulfilling as they should be. Mostly, they seem to just come up with “kill this thing” or “get these potions”. Nothing too out of the ordinary to say the least, which ruins the reason for such maps like the city to even exist. There wasn’t too many times where the threat provided a reason to level grind in areas outside of the main plot. At many times, the bond episodes, while nice in their own weight, did feel monotonous. Most of these centred around revisits to areas when they did carry action. Perhaps a few extra stones would have helped mix this up a little. Say a one time boss that doesn’t appear on the map. Bond episodes could have thrown in more sidequest like things that other games do as a standard. The stereotypical enemy range, in which many JRPGs play safe, is the same in Scarlet Nexus. The bosses do come with that variety, but after a point, this resets. I must have seen the goat foes several times at almost every point of the phases. The actual anime should be avoided on the first playthrough to an extent since it’s nearly shot-for-shot with the game. While the tie-in codes are nice-to-haves, these could be avoided until the subsequent run.
Scarlet Nexus attempts to be a bit different from the many anime games in Namco Bandai’s stable. The plot’s various degrees of unpredictability spruces up the action RPG setting it holds. While the main story and dual sides take in more of a separate campaign coin, the anime feel clearly runs through it. With a good run under the usual RPG romp, Scarlet Nexus is definitely a worthwhile distraction from the enormous endeavours of the 100-hour commitments.
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation
Release Date: 24/06/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Role Playing Games
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO
Download link: US PSN / UK PSN