As a publisher and developer, fans of games are certainly no stranger to Bandai Namco, the Japanese stalwart who has given players plenty to cheer about over the years, particularly when it comes to the anime video game front. From brawlers like Jump Force to sporting awesomeness in Captain Tsubasa, Bandai has done it all and following its foray into an original action-JRPG in Code Vein, the studio has most certainly polished the edges to a shine with its latest, Scarlet Nexus.
Bringing together fast-paced action and the traditional formula of role-playing games, Scarlet Nexus exists quite uniquely on its own. Most often, players would expect a heavier emphasis on one end of the scale, but this is most certainly not the case here.
Gameplay moments are rife with intense and lightning-quick action, with battles coming up thick and fast. On the flip side, there is equal focus on the narrative, with the world of Scarlet Nexus is slowly fleshed out, as most of the characters are given time to shine and develop. The idea of two main protagonists, each with their own meaty campaigns, showcases the obvious importance of the story in Scarlet Nexus.
That said, it is highly recommended that you play through both Yuito and Kasane’s portions of the game because even if their stories overlap in certain points, the main bulk of it is still distinct and worth experiencing. In order to fully appreciate the full breadth of the story being told, completing both campaigns in Scarlet Nexus is vital.
Future Of Possibilities
It definitely helps that Bandai has managed to put together an intriguing world that is simply fascinating and engaging. Scarlet Nexus’ main conceit is a population that has been blessed with powers of the mind.
In this spectacular future, people can communicate on a whole other level. Advertisements are delivered through augmented reality, people send messages from brain to brain, and those who display prowess in combat are drafted into the Others Suppression Force (OSF) to battle the threats known as the Others.
Both Yuito and Kasane happen to be the latest recruits of the OSF, and as danger unfolds, the pair find themselves increasingly mired in conspiracies and plot twists, drawing audiences in at every turn. Each campaign runs parallel to the other, and playing both allows you to see events unfold from another point of view, adding context that delivers a narrative punch for completionists.
That is not to say that only the overarching narrative is the star. The nitty-gritty that goes into every minute of your gameplay in Scarlet Nexus is also quite important. Take the supporting cast as an example, the eight different characters that will join Yuito and Kasane on their adventures are interesting creatures, to say the least.
With the conclusion of every mission, you will have the chance to learn more about them at your hideout. Conversations, gift-giving, and strengthening your bonds are all part of the deal. Once you are close enough, a bond episode will take place, revealing more about your chosen target of affection.
While this mechanic is not new, the way Scarlet Nexus presents it is refreshing. Bond episodes can take an entirely different path depending on which campaign you are in, revolving around main story events, and is not always about being chums with your fellow OSF members.
Sometimes, you could actually be treated to a hostile reception, but that is more close to reality that other games may neglect to show. However, the key is that you will always depart with a deeper understanding of these supporting characters, what makes them the way they are, and why they do what they do.
It can be easy to dismiss the different individuals as standard anime tropes, but given time and some effort, you will learn to appreciate them more. Such stellar character development is quite rare, and the bonus is that you will get even better help from them when it comes to the all-important combat in Scarlet Nexus.
Duking It Out In Scarlet Nexus
As a whole, combat in Scarlet Nexus is undeniably fun. Both Yuito and Kasane can kick plenty of ass with their psychokinesis powers, throwing objects at enemies while bringing the hurt with their signature weapons.
Yuito utilises his sword for quick attacks that make him a force to be reckoned with up close, whereas Kasane is much better at mid-range with her telekinetic knives and slower speed. Both protagonists have supporting skills that enhance their way of combat, which allows players to mix things up further when fighting the Others.
The synergy between the weapon-based combat and the use of psychokinesis makes for a foundation of fun and enjoyment that is full of surprises. Depending on how far you are into a weapon combo, you can always transition into a telekinetic attack that has Yuito or Kasane leap back and hurl an object. Follow that up with a weapon attack and you are right back into the thick of it.
This back and forth between ranged and melee combat is akin to a deadly ballet, one players are entirely in control of. Throw in a dash of environmental hazards to take advantage of, and combat shines bright and rightly so.
Using Your Head
The aforementioned supporting characters also have their parts to play using the Struggle Arms System (SAS). By identifying key weaknesses in your enemies, you can depend on your allies to augment your attacks with their own special abilities.
Pyrokinesis can make quick work of enemies that have been covered in oil, while Electrokinesis can shock the opposition into submission. There are several more abilities that will greatly improve your chances of success in combat, and only by combining all these elements will you be able to overcome the tougher threats of the Others.
Despite all the excellence of the combat in Scarlet Nexus, the action is not without some flaws. With the array of high-speed movement and combat moves, targeting needs to be more precise in order for players to be highly effective, but the less-than-ideal targeting in the game is one of the game’s most obvious problems.
The same goes for the variety of enemies. Although there are many Others that can provide a challenge, there is simply not enough variety for a sustained RPG like Scarlet Nexus. Once you have figured out the best way to destroy a foe, the fights that follow will become more of a procession than a challenge so while the Others are amazing in concept and execution, mechanically, they could do with some sprucing up.
Giving And Taking
Considering the fact that players might want to experience both campaigns, fatigue will undoubtedly be something to worry about. Being able to carry one’s progress from a completed campaign to the other helps, but it is an issue that runs deep. The lack of variety also extends to level design, where locations are often repeated and can be disappointing save for the few unique spots that Yuito or Kasane get to visit.
It can be easy to dismiss Scarlet Nexus based on the legacy of Bandai Namco and its anime inspirations, but that is doing yourself a disservice.
As an action-JRPG, Scarlet Nexus is clear in its ambition to put together an experience that is equally engaging in gameplay and storytelling. Despite the odds, this futuristic and action-packed 40-hour romp has carved out a strong footing for its future, and roleplaying fans have yet another impressive entry to add to their collection.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Exciting combat and brilliant storytelling allow Scarlet Nexus to surpass expectations and establish itself as more than just another anime action-RPG.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 9/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 9/10