The trope of anime gamers that love their niche has always been clouded by negative connotation. Yes, it’s outlandish and beyond imaginary approach does beckon the question to those that aren’t acclimated with its deep seated medium, as to why? Why does the Otaku love this ridiculous plotline that’s absolutely convoluted to the point where narrative progression has no meaning nor merit? Scarlet Nexus isn’t afraid to throw players into the deep end without acquaintance towards the extremely complex story, unknown protagonists and expeditious, balls-to-the-wall, insanity. The title isn’t looking to make a personal connection with the player other than empathy, but it does an outstanding performance in escalating a pre-tense to palpable encounters. Bandai Namco release the shackles of the traditional JRPG, allowing the player to inconsequentially dominate with a slew of powers to aid your journey.
Pertinent features of relevance are attached to the title that may entice and allure those that are looking to get their hands on some deep seated character development, such as levelling, upgrading your “Brain Map” or as it’s commonly known, your skill-tree, purchasing items, and regaling your party while giving directives are some of the essentials needed to apply the role-playing label. Of course, without them it would be a simple hack-and-slash action-adventure. There’s a litany of options to break down from category to sub-category of sub-categories. It’s jaw dropping in how jam-packed this broadly built showcase truly is. Respective abilities that are attached to comrades, coincide with both our hero’s arsenals and their respective campaigns. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yes, there are two, full length campaigns in this title. Attention is demanded here and without question, you’ll give it to Scarlet Nexus.
Booting into Scarlet Nexus, you’re immediately given the option to begin your quest as Yuito Sumeragi, an elite soldier that’s recruited to the Other Suppression Force (OSF) and tasked with eradicating the mutated specie while keeping the civilians of Suoh City and its multiple districts safe. Alternatively, you may commence the campaign with OSF confidant, Kasane Randall. Her stoic demeanour, spells a confidence unseen in Yuito’s charming character. Displaying a distrust in everyone, including cohorts, her resolve is to exact vengeance upon those that are responsible for the death of her parents. Similar to her male counterpart, both share Psychokinetic powers as a baseline ability that coincides with their party’s unique powers. As the campaign moves forward, you will encounter beats where both Sumeragi and Randall’s paths converge, leaving breadcrumbs and clues for those that may have began their escapade from the opposite side.
I chose to begin the first half of this split story with Yuito. The katana wielding cadet, Son of acclaimed scientist and the youngest of a dynasty, Sumeragi’s reputation preceded the young man, allowing him to climb the ranks faster, but this did not cloud the ambitious soldier’s determination that had been growing within him from adolescence. Traumatised by the invasion of the Others, a mutation of unknown organisms, resonating behemoth like anthropomorphic features with spurs and spores growing out of their skin like agriculture, it’s a disgusting depiction of regressed humanoid-like beings that hunger for the human brain which had recently discovered a new hormone that had been kept dormant for eons. The Psionic secretion unlocks a potential superpower within each person that is luck to have been born with it.
Only those with this hormone are tasked with protecting what’s left of humanity, as the invasion has spelled a dystopian existence for Earth’s safety, leaving extinction as an open possibility. Exploring Suoh’s futuristic metropolis is inherently mind-blowing but its abstract tells the tale of a police state that’s currently been overseen by its governed Watch Dog, hoping to use people’s fears for ultimate control. Camera’s perched on every corner, barricades in alleyways, it looks harmless but ulterior motives are in-motion and unequivocally evident. While it’s Main Street is basic, landmarks like the Sumeragi Tomb Grounds and the OSF Facility can be explored and used to upgrade stats between your protagonist and party members respectively. Discourse between allies is encouraged, delivering Bonding Episodes which coerce a natural growth between you and your associates.
The campaign’s main missions are delegated and delivered in Phases. While the beginning of the campaign see’s Yuito and his cohorts revisit Suoh’s main districts in more-or-less a fetch quest-like patrol, further developments leads to a broader expedition across the metropolis, with hopes of uncovering a rebellion against the OSF. Initiated encounters with hordes of Others can be confronting from primary engagement, but the game begins with some light training that evolves throughout the story. Swing your blade to slice and dice the branches off the disassociated deviants, while utilising your Psychokinesis to manipulate inanimate object within your surroundings. Holding down R2/RT will sling boulders, bicycles, vehicles and other objects that are easily accessible, while L2/LT deliciously darbies a collection, allowing a chain reaction of outerworld offense.
This is the way of the future with character building, personality progression and the ability to facilitate and satiate that need for exponential, rigorous pacing that escalates further into the adventure. Scarlet Nexus is a must play this generation.
Peeling piles of metal bars off grates to pivot a spear-like storm upon your enemy, then to consolidate their use as a baseball bat an whack an Other into oblivion is incredibly satisfying – chef’s kiss personified. Pending party members, you will eventually lead a team of four including your protagonist with their own abilities to share. Holding down R1/RB dedicates an window where you may select your cohorts special power to exploit. A great example is Kagero Donne’s invisibility, allowing you to bypass areas that are packed to the brim with Others avoiding an untimely demise. While you have a catalogue of capabilities to play with, you can only activate one at a time. Swapping out to other essentials like Tsugumi Nazar’s clairvoyance allows you to dispel an Other’s cloaking power, and see through hazy areas.
Engaging Shiden Ritter’s electrokinesis and holding down Triangle/X delivers Yuito’s powerful blade swing with an added extra spice to it. You will find some powers more useful than others, but they all entertain a purpose throughout their usage. Like activating Luka Travers teleportation to move through closed grates or simply dashing in areas that call for quick getaway, or using Hanabi Ichijo’s pyrokinesis on enemies that are immune to electricity, and vice-versa. The library of supernatural elements make for an unstoppable feat within this hasty adventure. Portraying our protag-counterpart, will entail a vastly similar arsenal with OSF comrades tailing Kasane during her exploration through Suoh. Manoeuvring her blades using telekinesis contrasts Yuito’s blade slinging ability, while tailoring a unique close-to-mid range attack.
Two sides to every tale...
✔️A lofty campaign that’s perceived through the lens of two protagonists and their respective stories.
✔️A catalogue of various powers to aid you throughout your journey.
✔️A diverse line-up of clever characters and quick witted personalities, all entailing their own unique arsenal that can be utilised alongside your protag’s own repertoire.
❌Save states are far and few between.
❌Some technical hiccups but nothing major.
Exploring Kasane’s campaign is an absolute joy. While I had finished off Yuito’s lengthy 30 hour campaign, I knew going into Scarlet Nexus that I was in for more than I had bargained. Attaching a moral stance to its inquisitive storyline, and dissecting more of its writing through the lens of two distinct perspectives, the title’s New Game Plus does wonders for players that jump from one campaign to the other. Retaining all achievements and unlockables from Yuito’s, I was under the assumption that Kasane’s side would be an absolute breeze. A misnomer in designation of the term “breeze” and then some. While opening acts were simple enough to grind through, and the experience of wielding one players repertoire, acclimating yourself with the other may be seamless in some circumstance, but it’s more of the execution side that becomes a challenge.
Then there are opposing events that converge over the entire narrative, that coincide and represent Kasane’s tale as opposed to Yuito’s. Without getting into any spoilers due to Kasane’s story divulging some deeper, more intrinsic details regarding her alignment with the OSF, like Yuito, she and her sister Naomi are cadets in the suppression force with hopes of eradicating Others that have invaded Suoh, the only problem is that the group are untrained and have no business in fighting the mutant specie. Both Kasane and Naomi encounter Yuito and Nagi fending off a force of the monsters, with the older sister’s clairvoyant mind projecting a premonition that see’s the men injured. With Nagi knocked out and Yuito to fend for himself, the sisters team up with the cadet to eliminate the horde, only to be teleported away from the scene by high ranking officer, Luka Travers.
Scarlet Nexus asserts many themes during its lofty campaign. Facets of horror are injected within the futuristic, cyberpunk heavy, post apocalyptic universe that heavily implies to be set in a fictitious Tokyo. It’s almost an unusual melding of The Last of Us meets Persona, with eroding estates barricading a bustling civilisation striving to survive this imposed turmoil. An exemplary demonstration of anime extravagance is noted here, with great detail emanating from Suoh City’s architecture. Holographic billboards, signage, and neon lighting generates a feel for not only a progressive allure, but metropolis on the verge of instant panic. Having the ability to instil a barrage of warnings without hesitance escalates a palpable sense of urgency in the city’s patrons. This is seen within the aforementioned attack that takes place at the beginning of Kasane’s journey.
A emphatic difference in signifying solace is out of Suoh City’s element, despite having the OSF present to protect its civilians. Regardless, Scarlet Nexus is without doubt one of Bandai Namco’s greatest original IP’s yet. A baseline template that melds multiple themes together to make for one of gaming’s greatest Role-playing title’s this year, I can state that the action delivered is unforgettable. The freedom of grinding the title’s complex overlay, discovering new features, unlocking more of your Brain Map, and building your bonds to their maximum are only few examples of this campaign’s colloquial recourse. Saving can be a forgetful circumstance due to the nature of most modern experiences boasting an auto-save function. As does Scarlet Nexus, but only in-between Phases. You will have to manually save your progress while traversing through each area by discovering checkpoints that also double as storefronts.
Visually, Scarlet Nexus is an awe-inspiring feat from the Japanese development team, but equally as phenomenal from an audio front. From the vibes of a calm cityscape on the verge of war, right into an expeditious race against time, Lead composer Hayata Takeda (Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts) managed to capture the digital deliverance and translate it to a compilation of high-octane, heavy beats that boast an influential boom from the onset. As the franchise expands beyond gaming, imagery of Japanese Animation is inserted that is unequivocally connected to the series premiere of its Anime adaptation. An fully rendered OP (Opening Movie) that’s primarily seen in television series is present, with Japanese rock band The Oral Cigarettes providing an original number “Dream In Drive” for the sequence.
A notable gathering of industry greats group to spare their talents and give life to the game’s star attractions. The performance from our leads and their close associates are done with some of the best voice acting within the gaming category, that’s closely tied to the market of its animated ilk. Chris Hackney (Mob Psycho 100, One Punch Man) portrays our Male protagonist Yuito, while the incomparable Erica Mendez (Erased, Kill La Kill) shows her astonishing range as our counter-protag Kasane. Zach Aguilar (Demon Slayer, Seven Deadly Sins), Xanthe Huynh (Persona 5 Royal, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim), Megan Taylor Harvey (Street Fighter V, FLCL: Alternative), Chris Patton (Soul Eater, Fire Emblem: Three Houses), Griffin Burns (Devilman Crybaby, Final Fantasy VII Remake), Kyle McCarley (Mob Psycho 100, NieR Automata), Laura Post (Persona 5 Royal, Pokemon), Patrick Seitz (Mortal Kombat, Demon Slayer), Laura Stahl (Guilty Gear: Strive) and the hilarious SungWong Cho (@ProZD) make up only a fragment of this insane cast; A who’s-who of voice acting royalty.
Scarlet Nexus is a Game of the Year contender. Yes, a bold claim this early in 2021 but the title delivers on all fronts from an enigmatic campaign, split between two contrasting characters that juxtapose personality and character. Given the choice of gender within our lead, but having their own respective side told is rare, and eloquently done here. Bandai Namco had the option to keep things simple, and merely engage a narrow delivery of one straightforward narrative with a hero of choice, but have elevated standards, going beyond expectation by showing a diverse perspective through the lens of two sides. The Japanese Role-Playing genre has seen a renaissance period, and Scarlet Nexus pushes the boundaries in cementing this notion, with the freedom of choice, and open field to explore. The antiquated stoppages, and turn-based mechanics are yesterday’s problem. This is the way of the future with character building, personality progression and the ability to facilitate and satiate that need for exponential, rigorous pacing that escalates further into the adventure. Scarlet Nexus is a must play this generation.
Scarlet Nexus is an upcoming action role-playing game developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is set to be released on June 25, 2021 for Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.