Scarlet Nexus (PS4) Review

Digital danger zone

Japanese anime has been around a long time, and in that time it has seen many genres and applications. From Manga to Video Games anime has given another medium for people to tell their stories, having come from something that “nerds” did in their parents’ basement to a billion dollar industry worldwide. Video Games that feature anime styles is nothing new either, but near the top of the list of publishers is Bandai Namco. When I first saw their trailer for the game Scarlet Nexus which was shown on an episode of Inside Xbox I was immediately in love. The style, the combat and the psychic powers all seemed like it was being made just for me; Especially since I am a HUGE fan of the old Midway game Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy. Then when I found out it was an action-RPG to boot, RPG’s being another of my favorite type of games it easily became one of my most anticipated titles.

Scarlet Nexus as I said is an action-RPG, where you take control of a newly graduated OSF officer. The OSF (Other Suppression Force) are the team who handles ‘Other” invasions, Others are creatures who plague the alternate reality earth and eat humans brains. It’s a lot like what I know of “Attack on Titan” (which is another anime) they don’t really know where the others come from…just that they show up and kill humans and need to be put down. But before you can even start hurling objects and slicing up monsters you will need to choose your character. Scarlet Nexus has two protagonists to choose from, Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall. Having played with Yuito in the demo I decided for my first playthrough I was going to tackle Kasane. The two really only differ in weapon styles as they both possess the power of psychokinesis, which means they can control and throw objects with their minds. Yuito uses a sword which makes his playstyle very hack and slash by nature while Kasane uses several small blades that she whirls around with her mind. Her attacks are longer range and more of an area of effect which made using target lock and fighting some enemies difficult (more on that later though.)

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS5, XB1, XSX, XSS

As main characters both have compelling backstories and motivations to become part of the OSF which is explained over the course of the adventure. In fact, the game is basically 2 in 1 as each character has their own story; which makes multiple playthroughs mandatory if you want the complete story. My playthrough with Kasane had something HUGE happen early on and I am so curious to see how it affects Yuito, I don’t wanna spoil it but man. The side characters are all also interesting; if not typical for anime friends. It seems that all of the usual tropes from ‘the guy whose a jerk/know-it-all but has a heart of gold, overprotective mom type, cute girl who does cutesy stuff but is really bloodthirsty you know, the usual. Even having checked those boxes the developers still had time to make each of these characters feel important. Toward the middle of my playthrough as Kasane, something horrible happens to her and I genuinely felt for her situation. Its been a long time since a game has really made me connect with the characters quite like this one did.

The art style for the game is quite fantastic as well. The enemies are all very uniquely weird, fighting an upside-down plant with human legs and stilettos heels is for sure a first for me. All of the creatures designs were unique and I was always trying to get a closer look at each of them… you know before killing them. The blend of in-game and in engine cutscenes always made the transitions really clean as well as there are no load screens aside from initially arriving at an area. However, one of the areas the designs and things begin to stumble is the overuse of environments. You will run down the same looking run-down street, ally, walkway, cave, etc. so many times that you’ll think there was a glitch in the Matrix. Each are is littered with various items for you to throw using your psychokinesis, old shopping carts and cars on the streets and statues, bookcases and the like in corridors… you get the point. These items would disappear after striking an enemy and I never really ran out of things to use as weapons during fights. The maps all followed a similar design of having long hallways that opening up into larger area battle arenas. Because the game has a faux open-world design, it allows for exploration of the vast levels; which is all well and good when the environments are more varied.

Another area where the game slips for me personally, is in the combat. While I am not sure if I was just expecting more than I got, I just felt the trailers and things led me down a path that it didn’t ultimately deliver on. Upon seeing the trailers, one would get the feeling of ‘Devil May Cry style combat with a mix of psychic powers thrown in, sounds dope right? Well I think they started down this road but then stopped before getting there because the combat is very one note. In fact you have one button that is for melee attacks, and another that does an area of effect attack and will generate more power for your psychokinesis.

You can also utilize your teammates abilities by brain-linking with them. So with the press of R1+the button you have for the ability you can add electricity to your attacks. Or maybe use hypervelocity which slows down time and lets you just go crazy on a boss. That’s really it tool wise, you then take those and just sprinkle in holding R2 to throw things at enemies until they are either dead or you break their crush bar. At which point you can do an awesome over-the-top anime style finisher, which was my go-to for finishing foes. I just was expecting more from the combat; however, I think the developers were going for an ease of use for people to do really cool things with a minimal amount of inputs. Which if that’s the case this is perfect, because when you mix up the buttons or utilize a brain-link ability with a team member the battles are glorious. The target lock is also more of a “camera lock” than anything else. Meaning I can target lock someone and be mid combo when they move and my next input will whiff instead of you know, lock on. So, this is especially difficult with Kasane because as I said her attacks by nature aren’t targeting but are more are of effect. So, fighting something one on one can be hard to get everything to land just as you want. Overall I think I just wanted more control over the combos, it’s not a game breaking issue, just a nitpicking one.

But after all that fighting is over you will of course accrue experience towards your level and ‘Brain Points’ which are used on Scarlet Nexus’s version of a skill tree called a ‘Brain Map’. (lots and lots of brain puns here, just get used to it). You are able to unlock things like an extra attack from your main weapon combo to tweaking how quickly your psychokinesis powers replenish. There really is a breadth of customization options, not only from a gameplay standpoint but also to a wardrobe one. You can purchase costumes and various accessories for your characters to use. In fact, there are some that come with the deluxe version of the game to get you started. All of these items are purchasable with in game currency and honestly none of it was ever more than I felt was fair and it helped make my team more unique for me.

I enjoyed my time with Scarlet Nexus, more than that I am excited about talking the game from Yuito’s perspective. In a time where we have fantastic games dropping literally every day I think that says something about the world and quality of this game. The issues with the repetitive level designs, and finicky combat isn’t enough to dim the joy I get from mixing up powers and ultimately crushing an enemy with a epic finishing move. If you like action RPG’s, DMC, or are a fan of anime you will find something good with Scarlet Nexus. Even using the more simplified combat system the game is a blast to play and ultimately tells a really compelling story all in a beautifully done in Japanese anime style.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good
  • Fun characters and darker story in tone
  • Crush moves never, ever get old
Bad
  • Combat felt sparse to me, as if it wanted to do more but couldn’t
  • Repetitive environments took away from the splendor at times
8.5
Great
Written by
Terrence spends his time going where no one has gone before mostly. But when not planning to take over the galaxy, he spends his time raising Chocobo and trying to figure out just how the sarlaac could pull Boba Fett’s ship with its engines firing FULL BLAST into it’s maw with relative ease; yet it struggled with Han Solo who was gripping *checks notes* SAND!