There is something to be said for any game that allows you to use a teammate’s power to phase-dash through a giant monster’s deformed legs and then another’s to light your sword on fire and stab it into the creature’s back before finally finishing it off by using your psychokinesis to smash two halves of a torn-up air conditioner unit into either side of what I assume is its head.
The something to be said is that it’s pretty freaking fun. While Scarlet Nexus is ostensibly about the end of the world, or at least the looming threat of it, developer Bandai Namco never loses sight of the fact that it was working on something that could be incredibly fun, and it shows.
In Scarlet Nexus, you pick between two potential protagonists, instantly setting the tone for your time in the game. Yuito Sumeragi takes on enemies with a sword, up close and personal, while
Kasane Randall deals with them from a distance. Both have access to psychokinetic powers, but each has their own skill tables. Both of them are new members of the OSF, a group of gifted individuals responsible for taking on Others.
Others are strange creatures that exist on the edge of madness, devouring the brains of the living in a desperate attempt to find a temporary calm. They are also one of the standout parts of the game, showing some genuinely unique and interesting visual designs that are almost impossible to describe. Each Other represents a strange and nightmarish fusion of animals and mechanical parts, with some everyday household items thrown into the mix to add to the fever dream.
The world of Scarlet Nexus is hyper-advanced, a genre the developers have referred to as Brainpunk. This is mainly because everyone is tuned in to everyone else, and your team of OSF agents utilizes a system that allows them all to connect to communicate and share abilities.
Central to the story is that despite having just metKasane for the first time, Yuito is convinced someone who looks just like her saved him from an attack by Others as a child. You’ll spend about two dozen hours learning more about the characters, the world they live in, the nature of the Others, and the blossoming relationships between Yuito, Kasane, and the rest of the OSF.
No mindless slashing
Combat in the Scarlet Nexus was a pleasant surprise. The game’s premise implies mindless hack-and-slashing, but instead, the fighting is very considered. The attacks you use, the targets you take out, and the skills you decide to go with at any given moment all matter. Simple button bashing will not get you far, and you will need to carefully consider what you do at any given moment, especially in boss fights and large group battles.
The synergy between weapons and abilities, the natural expansion of the powers you have available to you, and the slow uptick in enemy threat all combine to create a gratifying combat experience. While not the fast combat system I have played with recently, it is undoubtedly nicely polished and well-considered, challenging players in ways beyond simple reflexes.
You also can’t just spam enemies to death with your abilities, since a certain volume of melee combat is required to charge up your ranged powers. It’s a solid system that gives options without allowing you to hide on the edge of battles and lets NPCs and brain magic do all the work.
Each time you head out on a mission, you can bring a selection of your fellow OSF fighters with you, and each has their own ability that you can borrow. You can also set how you want them to behave, fighting recklessly or cautiously or ganging up on targets if you prefer. They have their own personalities, and it is around this aspect that things are likely to get divisive.
Scarlet Nexus is the most anime game of all time. In many ways, this is a great thing. It follows the anime trope of allowing all the characters to feel important for their own reasons, and it doesn’t limit the characters or force them to hide their light under a bushel. They end up being fun and interesting, actual friends and allies of the main characters, instead of just personalities that exist in the background to compliment them when needed.
For those not in the know, Scarlet Nexus will indeed be getting an anime show on streaming platform Funimation, launching shortly after the game does. This has clearly influenced the writing, and I would argue it has been for the better. Things feel more fully developed when it comes to the lesser characters’ personalities than you usually see in a game like this.
Despite the apparent anime influences, Scarlet Nexus never forgets that it’s a game, and as such, it needs to provide players with meaningful systems that they can engage with. Outside of combat, players can develop friendships with the other characters, which will play into the fighting in that it gives you access to more powers.
On top of the skill tree, players will find all manner of equipment that they can use, changing their stats and leaning into builds of their choosing, although how necessary and impactful this is will depend on the difficulty they are playing. There is a lot to engage with as a game, so don’t get too caught up in Scarlet Nexus just being a vehicle for the anime.
All in all, Scarlet Nexus is an enjoyable game, but the two main draws— the considered and challenging combat and the anime nature of the character and plot development — might also be the two things that drive some people away.
If you like your game narrative personalities a little less on the nose and your combat a little more hack-and-slash, then Scarlet Nexus might not be for you. If you don’t mind a more considered pace of fighting, and if your idea of a good time is flicking through the Shounen section of Funimation, then Scarlet Nexus will definitely be for you.
8.5 / 10
|+||A deep and deliberate combat system presents a fun challenge on higher difficulties.|
|+||The creature design is just weird, and that is always a good thing.|
|+||The entire cast of characters is fun and exciting, with surprising depth.|
|+||The art style very much sets it apart from similar titles.|
|–||The combat and anime tropes will definitely be divisive, and not everyone will see that charm in them.|