Title: Scarlet Nexus
Developer: Bandai Namco
Release Date: June 24, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: Action RPG
Kicking off an original IP isn’t easy, but here comes Bandai Namco making Scarlet Nexus a highly discussed title within the action RPG community. This new adventure boasts a large cast of characters and sci-fi elements that give it an edge over anything that has been released recently. However, warming up to this new world takes time, leaving a few of the game’s signature red strings frayed at the edges.
Scarlet Nexus features two main protagonists Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall. Players can choose which character to play from the beginning, but let’s be honest, we’re all choosing Kasane first. The stories differ enough to warrant multiple playthroughs, ranging from 15 – 20 hours each, depending on how much you wish to get into the depths of the side missions and optional story scenes. The characters are connected by a mysterious red string that plays into the game’s various themes
The main story is a dump of science fiction, double agents, government secrets, and a bit of friendship to top it off. Unfortunately, the first two chapters of the game are almost unrecognizable to the rest of the game as Kasane spends her time wondering if Yuito would make a good boyfriend. In fact, there’s absolutely nothing special about this group until there is, but you’ll have to play for about three hours until that happens.
The objective is mainly to fight against an invading enemy known as the Others. However, scientists who have been studying these deadly creatures have figured out how to utilize their power, which causes a division between members of the OFS. Each group member has a special psychological ability and is on the frontline of all interaction with the Other threat.
there are bonding scenes used to flesh out individual characters so they can better explain themselves.
It’s almost imperative that you follow the many twists this game throws at you because the cast is huge and where their loyalty lies is important. These differences in perception will test their friendship, but honestly, I had difficulty keeping up. These characters are all supposed to trust each other, but most of them do something shady at some point and somehow gain the forgiveness of the entire group. It was bound to happen, but nearly every character seems to have a secret, which impacts the shock value significantly.
Thankfully, there are bonding scenes used to flesh out individual characters so they can better explain themselves. These are optional to view, but they benefit in other ways, such as strengthening some combat abilities. I appreciated these story sections as they helped me understand why some decisions were made. But, again, the problem lies in how they are optional.
Players can string together combos with light and heavy attacks and utilize the shoulder buttons to pick up objects and fling them into an enemy.
The action systems are unique during combat as the developers attempted to limit any repetition or button mashing. However, going in without understanding the combat system makes battles needlessly long and causes you to use an abundance of items making the experience even tougher. Normal difficulty offers a decent challenge, but I had to raise it since I found the bosses to be not challenging enough.
Players can string together combos with light and heavy attacks and utilize the shoulder buttons to pick up objects and fling them into an enemy. Enemies have a shield that breaks when their weakness is attacked. This provides an easy kill and should be what you aim for during every encounter. Players control either Yuito or Kasane during combat. In addition, a party of four AI team members joins and acts on their own during encounters.
To utilize the strengths of the other party members, players can connect with a character for a limited time. This allows for some interesting fights as you can slow down time, turn invisible, duplicate yourself, or even utilize an element. At first, you can only connect with one character at a time, but you can unlock the ability to connect with all four and become a crazy enhanced tank as you level up.
The combat system evolves across levels as you become more proficient with stringing together attacks. The pace at which you learn new moves is guided by the point system to unlock new abilities after levels. This gives players the chance to push the abilities of the system and then introduce more steadily. This evolves further when you unlock the Brain Field ability takes the battle to a scenery where you can launch some powerful attacks.
As the bonds increase with the party members, you’re able to extend your combos when connected to them and even switch to them briefly in a fight. The roll-out of these systems is slow, but I was never bored in a fight. I didn’t like how I couldn’t seem to turn off the Tips Menu, but I might have just not looked hard enough.
there’s an awesome battle system here that evolves throughout the entire campaign.
The environments of Scarlet Nexus are vast, but there aren’t too many of them. Further, you’ll visit them numerous times, which gets a little old after the third time going through an area. They are gorgeous, though, and designed with a high level of thought and planning. The floatiness of the character’s movement fights against some of the more narrow areas, but I ended up getting the hang of it.
The character designs are gorgeous, and I loved the style. Strangely, the developer opted for a static image approach to the cutscenes. However, this gave it a more comic book-like appeal that I ended up enjoying. They saved the full-motion cutscenes for the more impactful moments. I appreciated the fully voiced scenes and Japanese and English options, and I could listen to the soundtrack for hours.
Scarlet Nexus could have easily become a new IP used to test a few systems as the studio focuses on larger projects. However, there’s an awesome battle system here that evolves throughout the entire campaign. Each fight has a brilliant rhythm to it as you take advantage of enemy weaknesses and use the environments to your advantage. The team introduces a large cast of characters but still manages to provide insight into their goals to make it worth seeing through to the end. Sadly, not everything works, but you might forget about floaty controls and convoluted narrative as you ride atop a bus into the battlefield.
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