The city of New Himuka has been invaded by a formidable extra-terrestrial opponent ominously referred to as the ‘Others’, a species with a voracious appetite for Human brain. They sporadically rain down from the skies with one intent: to feed. A task force of elite warriors known as the OSF, the Other Suppression Force, has been assembled in order to strike blows to the unwelcome visitors; we are introduced to two such members, a new recruit named Yuito Sumeragi and a veteran soldier named Kasane Randall. I wouldn’t want to mess with either.
Scarlet Nexus is a third-person Japanese RPG, developed by the revered Bandai Namco Studio, the creators of classic games like Tekken and Dark Souls, situated in the 1990’s Japan of an alternate universe wherein the technological proliferation has completely engulfed the way people live; the charismatic city of New Himuka is very much a cyberpunk setting. The game entangles the player in the character stories of Yuito and Kasane whilst also providing an engrossing plotline revolving around the fight against the repulsive Others. A fundamental tenet of Scarlet Nexus, a name translating to Red Connection building on the central red theme Bandai Namco likes to utilise, such as the Red Mist from Code Vein, are the collection of strings that connect the minds of Scarlet Nexus’ playable characters; a concept reminiscent of Michio Kaku’s eminent explanation to the fabric of the universe: String Theory. Even by name, Scarlet Nexus adapts the traditional Japanese belief in Kizuna, a bond between people, into a futuristic means of warfare.
Alongside such encompassing cosmic comparisons, Scarlet Nexus focuses on the two primary protagonists, the knife-wielding Kasane and the katana-swinging Yuito, whilst also allowing the player to interact with a plethora of other OSF soldiers each with their own abilities ranging from pyrokinesis and cryokinesis to teleportation. The psionic powers of the mind is an essential part of combat gameplay in Scarlet Nexus, a commonality between all characters being the Psychokinetic abilities. It is this emphasis on psionic powers that led the creators of Scarlet Nexus to label the game a Brainpunk title. How many other JRPGs allow you to contend with monstrous aliens by throwing cars, spouting fire and engulfing them with ice all through the psionic mind?
Combat (in its many forms) is a leading focus within the Scarlet Nexus gameplay which, when surrounded with the Cyberpunk atmosphere of New Himuka, is an extraordinarily transfixing experience. The ability to play as several characters within a game is nothing new, but it truly feels different in Scarlet Nexus. Bandai Namco has done a fantastic job of ensuring that every character has their respective quirks that go beyond the superficial and into the gaming experience beyond; the difference between Kasane and Yuito is not just appearance or weapon preference, it is how they move and fight. Speaking of weapons, where blades may prove insufficient users can choose to trigger the Brain Field, activating a state allowing the character to accelerate the refilling of their Psionic Bar thus potentially leading to a string of unforgiving and relentless assaults on the Others. It is true that perfecting the combat loops and achieving offensive upgrades through the Brain Map both take time in Scarlet Nexus yet for many this provides an honest challenge; we begin as the small fish in a big pond, fending off hideously deformed creatures skulking around every corner whilst each day becoming more efficient at doing so. I found that Scarlet Nexus maintained my focus with variations in the area of effect in each characters combat style and so many components of gameplay to master instilling a challenge throughout. I felt truly responsible for each combo-attack made and each HP hit taken; Scarlet Nexus supplies the player a raw experience wherein the game doesn’t take over, it is driven by us and only us – a facet many of us will find extremely rewarding. The stimulating experience of Scarlet Nexus doesn’t just stop there; the game forces us to bravely confront enemies in order to charge our gauges to saturation; it seems there is no hiding in the shadows for Kasane or Yuito today. Beyond the average ability bars, Scarlet Nexus incorporates the Drive System which awards the user for periods of ceaseless attack combinations with improved concentration, attack damage and Psionic abilities. Where Others are involved, slow and steady doesn’t always win the race.
To add yet another card to the deck of Scarlet Nexus’ combat dynamic, Kasane, Yuito and the remaining members of the OSF can temporarily borrow one another’s abilities and brain force using a hive-mind concept known in-game as the SAS: the Struggle Arms System. Though currently unclear, it seems that through side-quests called Bond Episodes (with equally as enjoyable comic-style cutscenes to the main plotline) the player can reinforce the relationship between characters thus strengthening the power of the SAS. In Scarlet Nexus, it seems that the better acquainted you are with your team the better able you are to fight the alien plants wearing stilettos. Neat, right?
Scarlet Nexus, the title looking to merge some of the most enticing elements of fan favourites like Code Vein and Astral Chain, is set to be released on the 25th June 2021 on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. Luckily you can pre-order here for Xbox One and Series X, here for PlayStation 4 and here for PlayStation 5!
Written by Joel Gunner