Bandai Namco is no stranger to making JRPGs and anime games. With beloved franchises like the “Tales” series, a multitude of anime properties like “My Hero Academia” and “Dragon Ball,” and original IPs like “Code Vein” under their belt, they decided it was time to take on a new challenge and birth a new IP. Enter “Scarlet Nexus,” a third-person action RPG set in a whole new universe, years into the human future. Let’s delve in a little deeper and see what makes “Scarlet Nexus” worth playing. This article will try to be as spoiler-free as possible, with only the minimum details given about the plot.
‘Scarlet Nexus’ Premise
It’s really hard to describe what “Scarlet Nexus” is, but I’ll try to do my best to put words to it. A world far away in the future with technology so advanced that it makes us look like cavemen. In this world, people have realized and unlocked the full potential of the human brain, and with it have come developments we can’t even begin to imagine. Holographic ads and panels cover the city, but they aren’t actually there and yet can be seen because of your neural link, telepathic communication, and using your brain like a computer to store and process information and pull it out at a moment’s notice, among so many other developments. Among all these advancements, though, the one thing that takes center stage can only be described as superpowers. You see, based on your mental aptitude, you can access a power that was always hidden within you and now can be unleashed. Powers like psychokinesis (the ability to move things with your mind), Pyrokinesis (the ability to control fire), electrokinesis (the ability to control electricity), instant teleportation, hypervelocity (super speed), duplication, invisibility, and so much more can be accessed through the deep reaches of your mind. Isn’t that cool and crazy?
Pretty much every person has a power to call their own, and the ones who don’t have the mental strength to tap into theirs are known as ‘duds’ and, unfortunately, are looked down upon. The ones with higher aptitude than normal are called by the OSF (Others Security Force) to test their skills and use them to protect humanity from these weird monsters known as “Others.” The “Others” came into existence due to the mysterious phenomenon surrounding the Earth’s atmosphere known as “the Extinction Belt.” What it is and why it’s here is a mystery you can solve on your own. That’s pretty much the summary of the world of “Scarlet Nexus,” and that is where you are dropped in, in the shoes of new recruits to the OSF, Kasane Randall and Yuito Summeragi. Where the plot goes from there is for you to find out. While the world of “Scarlet Nexus” is very interesting and cyberpunk-inspired, it will amount to nothing if the characters surrounding it aren’t interesting enough. Let’s take a look at the characters featured in this game.
Just like any other anime or JRPG, “Scarlet Nexus” comes with a long list of characters, each as interesting as the other. While it’ll take forever to describe every single character in this game, I’ll try to keep the introductions brief to give the most basic of descriptions about them without spoiling anything.
- Our first hero is Kasane Randall, an orphan adopted by the wealthy Randall family; she is very close to her adoptive sister Naomi Randall and uses psychokinesis as her power.
- Yuito Summeragi, on the other hand, is the son of the OSF’s chairman and is a charming young fella who gets recruited alongside his friend Nagi. Yuito also uses psychokinesis as his power.
- Arashi Spring, sister of Septentrion second class Fubuki Spring, is an absolute genius but is incredibly lazy. She is a veteran in the OSF and uses hypervelocity as her power.
- Kyoka Eden, another veteran in the OSF, acts as the team captain for a while and is incredibly friendly and caring. She fills the role of the mother of the team pretty much, as she is very nurturing and uses duplication as her power.
- Luka Travers, brother of Septentrion first-class Karen Travers, remains conscious of his short build but works twice as hard as anyone to keep up and is always smiling. He uses teleportation as his power.
- Shiden Ritter is a hothead recruit, seeking competition everywhere to prove he is better, and idolizing Captain Seto Narukami over anyone else. He uses electrokinesis as his power.
- Hanabi Ijicho, another fresh recruit, is a childhood friend of Yuito and is just happy to be in the OSF. She lacks confidence but is loyal to a fault for her friends and uses Pyrokinesis as her power.
- Gemma Garrison is another OSF veteran and perhaps the oldest member of the group. Gemma wishes to protect his team members above all else and uses sclerokinesis as his power.
- Tsugumi Nazar, another fresh face, is incredibly introverted and loves and knows a lot about plants. She has trouble seeing clearly because of poor vision but makes up for it with her clairvoyance.
- Kagero Dunne, the most mysterious member of the team, is cheerful to a fault at all times and can turn invisible.
These are all the main characters that will be in your party at all times, along with their basic traits. You’ll get to know each and every one of them throughout the course of the game. You can increase your bond with them and view special bond episodes to get to know them even better; the stronger your bond with them, the more useful they’ll be in combat. Each character is extremely charming, well-written, and fun to spend time with. There are other characters too that you’ll meet across your journey, but these are the main heroes. I’ll mention two more characters really quickly before moving on from this section.
- Fubuki Spring, Septentrion second-class, younger brother to Arashi Spring. Fubuki uses cryokinesis as his power and is the strongest psionic in the entire OSF.
- Karen Travers, Septentrion First class, older brother to Luka Travers. Karen doesn’t have a power to call his own, but he uses a technique called “Brain Eater,” through which he can acquire anyone’s power. Karen is the strongest member of the OSF.
‘Scarlet Nexus’ Gameplay
The gameplay of “Scarlet Nexus” is fast-paced hack and slash where you can use combos to make the most of your attack chains. While both Kasane and Yuito share the same power of psychokinesis, they play quite differently from each other. Yuito uses a sword that deals great damage at close range, while Kasane uses daggers that deal small but quick damage at medium range. That’s not the extent of it, though, as your fancy powers do come into play and allow you to lift objects straight from the battlefield and throw them at your enemies. Everything from your combo chains to the brunt of your powers can be upgraded from the skill tree, which is shaped like a brain, to make the most of them. There’s a meter that drains every time you use your telekinetic powers but quickly fills back up as you deal damage.
The interesting part comes with the use of the SAS (Struggle Arm System), a network of wires that come into existence out of thin air and attach two users’ minds together. Whenever you activate SAS, you can use the abilities of your party members in conjunction with your own for a short period of time. So, your Psychokinetic sword, when combined with Pyrokinesis, becomes a flaming levitating sword. Isn’t that insane? You can go invisible mid-combat or duplicate yourself, dealing triple damage at a given time, or you can use hypervelocity to turn into the Flash or use sclerokinesis to become immune to incoming damage. How cool is all of that!? It gets crazier, believe it or not. Have a stronger bond with your party members and invest in the right skills, and you can use multiple abilities at the same time! Imagine having three sets of levitating, electrocuted daggers that are on fire at the same time while you are moving around at the speed of light! The combat is flashy, simple to learn, and makes you feel like a true badass when you execute those moves.
Flashy combat will only get you so far if the enemies aren’t up to snuff. And the variety and difficulty the enemies of “Scarlet Nexus” bring to the table are commendable. While the combat is simple on its own, the enemy variety and density in certain areas make you think on your feet. You may get comfortable with a certain combo, and out of nowhere, the game will throw a curveball your way with an enemy that demands a different ability and asks you to adapt mid-combat. “Others” also have a freakishly interesting design going for themselves, a blend of organic life and inanimate objects. They are beautiful and haunting at the same time. The game does a good job of balancing difficulty by maintaining good enemy diversity and not overwhelming you with sheer numbers.
Finally, I’d like to quickly mention before moving on, Brain field and Brain drive. Brain field is a state of combat that you achieve by filling up a meter by dealing damage to combatants. It activates automatically, lets you deal increased damage, and recharges your SAS abilities a lot faster. Oh, and it does give your character a really cool-looking hoodie. Brain drive, on the other hand, is the mother lode of “Scarlet Nexus'” suite of abilities. When you activate it, three big, meaty wires come into existence out of nowhere and inject themselves straight into your brain, unlocking its full potential. The arena around you changes and looks like something straight out of Tron, and your psionic abilities are unleashed to the maximum. Be careful about how and when you use Brain Drive, though, as it is powerful, but you slowly lose your mind when in this state, and if you push yourself too far, you’ll die. Brain Drive is a visual treat on its own, though. That has been the basics of “Scarlet Nexus'” gameplay, with a few things left unsaid, waiting for you to be discovered.
The Technical Stuff
“Scarlet Nexus” runs at a native 4K resolution at 60 fps on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, while last-gen consoles get different resolutions and frame rates based on the platform. The game uses a cell-shaded art style and plops your anime characters in real-looking environments, and this marriage just works. While the areas themselves are nothing to write home about, the game can look very beautiful with good lighting and incredible character and enemy models. The fully animated cutscenes, on the other hand, are a sight to behold. Gorgeous art and amazing choreography work wonders there. The game is very dialogue-heavy, and the voice acting is top-notch across the board. The sound design is also really well done through and through. There’s nothing bad I saw in my experience when it comes to the technical side of this game. It looks great, plays smoothly, sounds amazing, and is a very good time.
“Scarlet Nexus” is underrated. It was one of the first anime games I played, and to say it left me impressed would be an understatement. A story filled with twists and turns, an amazing cast full of lovable characters, stellar voice work across the board for a game with this much dialogue, smooth and refined gameplay that looks as good as it feels to play, and a gorgeous art style make “Scarlet Nexus” a must-play for me. I also want to give a special shoutout to this game’s music. The techno-futuristic jazz-style music they produced for this game still resides in my playlist, and I love listening and grooving out to it. If you haven’t already, go check out “Scarlet Nexus” for yourself and fall in love with it as I did.
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