This is a new game from Bandai Namco studios, and Tose or To-Se. I don’t know how to say it. But Scarlet Nexus is a Japanese action RPG for all the major platforms.
It’s a character driven, drama filled action adventure, but it’s set in a really cool and unique Sci-Fi universe. It’s almost like a cyberpunk style aesthetic, but even more high-tech and weirdly like Sci-Fi cerebral. Everything in the game centers around the theme of the human brain and how certain humans in this future are granted these super cool powers.
In most cases, every person can have one unique power and then these people can join up with a military organization to protect society and fight against the others. A kind of strange supernatural group of monsters that are usually downright shockingly designed and really weird looking.
So, you basically go through a fairly linear adventure with some diversions as you learn about a big cast of characters in this world and you battle and stuff, but believe it or not, there are two campaigns with distinct and pretty meaningful differences, and you should play both of them to get the full story.
You choose bet ween two characters that have some combat differences, and then you go on your way. It starts, I’ll admit, by piling on a bunch of like tropy characters very quickly and tons and tons of exposition that almost buries you, but it gets much, much better after the first hour or so big time.
So, definitely give it a chance. It absolutely plays like a crazy fun slashy game that feels like a mashup between Devil May Cry, every platinum game and a dash of PSYOPs or second sight. No, like I’m not kidding. Your main character can jump and dodge and slash or use mid-range stuff depending on who you’re playing as. But you also have psychokinesis meaning you can do cool stuff like predominantly pick up objects in the environment with your mind and throw them at enemies. Smack enemies around enough and you can leave them open to a brain crush, which is this thing that triggers us over the top, awesome, one hit finishing kill that never gets old stylistically.
There are other objects that you can manipulate in the environment with another button that are even more special. Throw a train car in an enemy, snap a telephone pole off its base and slap an enemy left and right, or tear a vending machine in half and slam it together and hit your enemy like a, like a sandwich. These usually require like a super fast QTE but it’s a really good satisfying one hit one with good feedback.
You’re doing this type of mental object manipulation super quickly and accessible. Like it’s, it’s a main part of the combat just like dodging or striking or jumping is, it’s organic. And it doesn’t feel like this separate thing. It’s a main thing. And the Scarlet Nexus designs it to really slickly do a good give and take with you being able to follow up with an attack immediately.
And when you start getting perfect dodges against other telekinetic enemies, you can time flinging back stuff at them. And, like, man, just there’s so much chaos going on, but it is all really satisfying and entertaining. Plus, you’re also building up a brain drive meter that when filled automatically activates and gives you even more power and makes you look more bad-ass. There’s a bit more in there including taking advantage of weak points, but you get the gist of the combat for now.
But on top of it, there’s this whole other aspect. Like if that wasn’t all enough, you have these party members lots to choose from, in fact. You can set how they fight, but you can also map and take advantage of their powers with these highly, highly unique assists. The variety and how much your teammates can change and help you in combat is really frankly incredible. And it’s one of the few games where characters powers with teammates really truly feel substantial.
So, think a character giving you some flame attacks or electricity buffs that help with certain enemies or sort of hardened that temporarily keeps you safe from certain attacks or invisibility setting you up for a back stab attack or more unique ones like clairvoyance, where you get extra dodge timing and more advantages for perfect dodges.
This is only naming a few. Discovering all of them is half the fun because the game puts a lot of work into them. And even if the way I described them makes them sound kind of basic, they really are the star of the show here. How they work and how they flow.
It’s fun to think about when to use your friends to your advantage in battle and it always feels dynamic. And I hate he uses over used word, but it’s epic. The camera often cuts to a stylized shot and just flows so nicely with no real break in the action. The only negative in the combat department is the camera. Surprise, surprise. Like a third person game with a finicky camera, I know.
It can occasionally mess you up ad sometimes it can’t keep up with the action, getting stuck in a corner or something or making it so you swing in the wrong direction and you occasionally miss your enemy. It can sometimes be annoying, but you get used to it.
I mean, at least I did. In between missions or parts of the story, you have the opportunity to hang out and regroup at your base and talk to your teammates and do kind of like quick little bond building moments that level up you’re standing with that character. And that gives you access to more perks with using their abilities like faster cooldowns and even eventually more special use stuff. And you can also give them gifts to improve bonds and typical teen group, JRPG game fashion.
I spent so much time talking about your friends, but you could also build up your character too, of course.
You level up through what’s called a brain tree. Think of it like a skill tree but gross and you can dump earned points into various branches. It seems like a typical skill tree, but there are some game-changers in there like an air dodge, a quick recovery, more immediate stuff, along with your typical attack bonuses and stuff like that. You can also spend money in shops for more gear attachments that give you buffs, weapons for more attack power and cool cosmetic items like bad-ass sunglasses or weird hats. The shops also have the ability to do exchanges for certain things.
If you’re trying to save money, but you’re still trying to get cool stuff. It’s a little bit of a different spin. And I did appreciate it. Pacing wise, the game does seem to get slightly repetitive here and there, slightly samey, but the enemy types are at least interesting and very cool to look at.
Even if environments are a bit bland, you don’t really feel it unless you do an optional side quest which usually makes you just backtrack through somewhere you’ve been. A lot of the optional quests seem to just be completely dull, straight up.
The story really keeps things moving. And if this type of thing is your thing, you might enjoy it. Personally, I’m more into the world-building and Sci-Fi elements than the actual characters. I don’t really like all the bickering and like, you know, the the spoiled brat, the serious man, the quiet girl, the heroic young boy type archetypes again, here, like in many animes type things. But even despite that and the presentation, which is mostly still images, it’s pretty enjoyable still and interesting.
But I did find myself, from time to time, more just looking forward to more crazy combat. And scenario and level wise, there are some good moments consistently throughout like something involving a bus that just made me say “Wow, I’m not going to say more.” So, while Scarlet Nexus might not be a 10 out of 10 for a lot of people, it’s got style, it’s got satisfying combat and some cool Sci-Fi. I think it’s really satisfying. And if anime vibes are your thing, you might dig this one because I certainly am and I’m just only a casual in this regard.
If Scarlet Nexus wasn’t on your radar, I say at the very least put it on your radar now. There’s a decent amount of game to chew through here.
I really appreciate the different campaigns. There’s a lot of stuff to read up on. There’s kind of like in-game messages. You can text your friends. So, there’s a lot to learn about this world. There’s a lot to dive into the characters if you do want to fall in love with characters. But if you also just want to be a bad-ass and killshit and just experienced some fun style and some good challenge, there’s that too.