Bandai Namco come poised to release their action role playing game, Scarlet Nexus on consoles and PC from June 25th. It’s a new IP that will also get an anime release. It comes under their own description as a “Brain Punk” game set within an alternate future reality. With Japanese developers churning out similar games, is this one worth the investment? Take a look at our Scarlet Nexus review (no spoilers) in the video or the transcript to find out.
Today we are taking a look at Bandai Namco’s third person action role-playing game, Scarlet Nexus which comes to consoles and PC. We’re playing the PC version at max settings and in 4K resolution. The lore of the game rests within an alternate reality somewhere in the future where strange monsters called “others” constantly attack the earth. This is where you come in as either the token male, Yuito Sumeragi or female Kasane Randall. That is a good move right out-of-the-gate offering the choice to players and from what we played, the two characters share the same overall story, but there are some differences here and there making it viable to play through both campaigns. The story begins with either character earning their wings as Other Suppression Force (OSF) cadets. The OSF members posses a specific power, so for example the two heroes have the telekinesis/psychokinesis ability which comes in handy when attacking the Others. Their task becomes quite clear involving taking out the others when they appear. However, something stirs within as the story takes some twists-and-turns which we won’t spoil for you here. Game on then!
Scarlet Nexus basic combat parameters looks pretty standard-fare on the surface and during the opening you might think it’s a little underwhelming. However, the ability to fuse standard melee attacks with hurling static objects using the telekinesis powers feels pretty slick and becomes flashy when you begin to master combo attacks, evasion moves and using the powers of your OSF team mates with the “SAS” system. This is when the combat comes alive and offers a satisfying gameplay loop. Throughout the story, players gather additional characters who you don’t directly control per se but can use their abilities as part of your attack. For example, at the touch of a button, you have invisibility, slowing down time, fire, electricity, duplication, making your arsenal pretty diverse. This makes Kasane or Yuito extremely formidable fighters and once you gain the full roster of OSF members you can mix and match layers of attacks in real-time.
Players develop their chosen character using the “brain map” which adds more power, additional movement options and extended attacks amongst other things. This is your standard skill-tree where levelling-up and spending points enables you to improve your chances. That said, whilst there might be a choice here in how you develop your character, by the time you reach the end-game it’s likely you will max out every option as you hit around level 60.
Players can tune their weapons somewhat by upgrading using gathered parts from the field when searching location off-the-beaten-track and defeated enemies. It offers a basic crafting system which allows you to create pretty much everything from weapons, battle items, gifts for your team members and even customization items. You can also purchase these from any shop which sit beside every save point (of which there are perhaps too many).There are plugin slots to add bonus modifiers such as increased power, shields, XP boosts and health. This is perhaps all standard fare for this type of action-role-playing experience. One thing that was pretty disappointing was no option to preview any of the visual customization items. There is a requirement to purchase them first before you can see how they look on your chosen character which is a shame especially considering the cost of these using in-game currency.
Again, familiar ground comes in the form of in-between mission relationships with the OSF teammates. You can talk to them via a text message system that directly connects to your character’s brain or specific bonding missions. Raising the bond level with each character via missions and offering gifts means they become more helpful during battle and will come to your aid more readily and increase their overall effectiveness.
Scarlet Nexus does have a lot of fluff though in true RPG fashion and at times the story does drag its feet a little, especially towards the end. Luckily for the impatient you can skip most scenes. To be frank, we didn’t care for all of the team members equally, with some peaking our interest more than others. They seem to follow typical RPG character tropes making them seem less-exciting than they could be. However, the main story remains fairly interesting but it’s the game’s visuals, audio and combat that really shine here.
As expected, the game runs very well on our top-end PC with a solid 60 fps using max settings and 4K resolution. Naturally, the game offers a selection of options to tinker with, but we think some lesser GPUs might struggle a little with some of the visuals at times which can come across full-on. The game’s presentation overall is very nice and offers a futuristic vibe especially when visiting the populated areas. That said, we wish there were more encounters within the city locations as these look far more interesting. It’s a shame as well that several locations repeat throughout the story which screams a lesser budget to expand to new areas. Audio is spot-on though with some excellent sound effects and a driving electronic soundtrack fusing drum & bass beats with synth tracks and more. The English voice acting is mostly on-point, but some sections don’t gel as well as others. You can switch to Japanese with subs for a more authentic audio experience.
Scarlet Nexus offers three levels of difficulty, and once bested in around 20 hours or more depending on how you play, the option to play again in EX mode, or afresh with the other character. In addition, once the main story ends you are able to return to visit any area and just fight or undertake numerous side-quests from various people around the populated zones.
To conclude then. Scarlet Nexus enters the fray as a neat story with futuristic themes and cool gameplay systems that requires some use of ones grey matter. The combat is the main meat here and is a joy to mix-and-match the skills of your team. In-fact it’s a requirement when up against the larger Others and boss characters. Whilst the story does drag-its-feet a little, and some of the characters appear less-interesting than others, most players should find an entertaining ride from start-to-finish. This is a great entry for a new IP and we think most players will enjoy its “brain punk” themes.
Score 8.5/10 – Review code supplied by publisher.