Out of nowhere, Scarlet Nexus is one of those projects that surprise. Its convoluted, but well-woven history is joined by some very well-designed combat. We tell you all the details of the latest work by Bandai Namco in the Scarlet Nexus analysis.
You have to admire the complexity of the new Bandai Namco production in many of its aspects. For all these scarlet threads to thread perfectly, you have to do a pre-production job where everything fits together at the risk of something going wrong. And many things could have gone wrong, because Scarlet Nexus tries to juggle so many balls that it is difficult: an action game with highly spectacular combat and a good story who has made the brave decision to know that, despite being an action game with RPG overtones, it is too long and complex to be told only with cinematics.
As I mentioned in the prints, the game benefits from its approach to the visual novel. On one of the best bullet point uses I’ve seen, well animated, planned and varied, the game manages to tell a complex and convoluted story. Yes, he drinks from many tropes of animation and makes a good hodgepodge of cyberpunk (or brainpunk as he likes to define himself) and more traditional sci-fi, but always manages to maintain interest based on one mystery after another.
What Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall We will start by joining the OSF to fight against Alter, some strange monsters that fall from the sky by an atmospheric phenomenon called the Belt of Extinction. The city even has weather forecasts to know when they fall and be alert. The game makes many, many promises: about the Alters, the city of New Himuka, the OSF and ourselves, as well as the rest of our colleagues. A titanic task that is responsible for answering all the questions in a quite satisfactory way. Above all, because the rules that the game creates, both those of the psionic powers and brain connections of our group, such as those that I cannot comment on due to spoilers, are always consistent at all times, taking into account every little detail of their world so as not to break continuity.
Come on, I’ve come across one of those world buildings where it’s worth diving into and answering every question, as well as discovering twist, twist, after twist of the script that the game never stops throwing at you. And even though Scarlet Nexus is more interested in exploring the more imaginative fantasy rather than a somewhat more mature narrative, it knows how to explore certain themes with elegance when it must, such as the neural connections that occur between people capable of perceiving what others think, the class inequalities of those who do not have powers or the maturity of those who have seen their aging altered.
Use your brain, but also your fingers
If history has convinced me, combat has done it as much or more. Bet on a hack and slash that does not pretend to be as technical as the references, but that is not at all brainless. With the psychokinetic powers, we can throw objects at enemies in addition to using our main weapon. But that’s just the beginning – what seemed like a good way to spice things up with the SAS system, the neural connection with team members, it becomes a broad, complex and strategic system. Each member of our squad has a role. For example, Hanabi can use pyrokinesis, while Tsugumi is capable of revealing hidden enemies. Gemma is our shield and Luka lends us his teleportation power.
Again, the game takes into account each power of each ally both in the playable and in the narrative, adding depth to the characters’ pasts and its relationship to its unique power. But in combat, it manages not to become a button smash thanks to the fact that every enemy weakness can be exploited if we find out which power is more effective. A few barrels of oil to levitate and the power of fire is a good combination, while fast enemies are surprised by teleportation, for example. It works because in the frenzy of combat, your head is always judging which is the best tactical move; something similar to what happens in other great combat systems such as Hades or Final Fantasy VII Remake, in which, although we press the attack button quickly, we are thinking about the following strategy.
The good thing about this combat is that, although it lays the foundations and does not reinvent itself, is always unlocking new features, with special attacks and brain states that unleash all psionic power. But I have said it before and I repeat it: highly spectacular is an understatement. I’m not sure which team of animators Bandai Namco has teamed up with, but between what I’ve seen of Tales of Arise and this Scarlet Nexus they get together some of the best animations that have walked my screen recently. The work is not only brilliant, but it abounds: each Alter has its execution and the amount of attacks of all the characters is brutal and very careful.
What is least achieved in combat, perhaps, is its RPG part. The brain map okay: typical skill tree that unlocks useful moves and passives to give a sense of progress and customize the style somewhat. But the equipment and inventory system is very little worked. The store is a menu in the save point with very few weapons that only increase statistics and some power-ups to carry as accessories. A good opportunity to manage each character is lost, and not only to gain again more sense of progress, but to liven up what is, in my opinion, the weakest point of the game: the design of scenarios.
Both in the areas of the city and in the “dungeons”, it seems a very simple design. It is not about whether it is linear or not, it is that the game does not manage to draw intricate maps in which you want to get lost and find all its secrets. Mainly because of what I mentioned earlier: the inventory system is simple and full of useless items, rather than interesting gear to discover; but also for a few side missions that are to be filled. They remind me a lot of those in Xenoblade Chronicles, for example, asking you to kill specific Alters or under certain conditions; collect some objects; and where you do not have to return to the NPC in question to complete it, but can be marked from the menu screen.
It will only serve us for go through the same dungeons several times, something that the game already deals with doing in the main mission. It is a pity that the way to visit New Himuka is not more successful and is done from a simple menu. You can see that this is a story where the city is a more and very important protagonist, and it would have been better to be immersed in it than under the structure it uses. One, by the way, reminiscent of Astral Chain on several occasions.
In the frenzy of combat, your head is always judging which is the best tactical moveThe good thing is that, little by little, and as the different parts of the game go by, you accept this simple level design. And that visually gives one of lime and another of sand. Some environments are very successful, with a style that reflects a kind of cyberpunk but more to the 90s, with a drawing that in the distance almost seems to be more appreciated the pencil; and, on other occasions, we find other levels practically empty and neglected. As I say, he is forgiven because, little by little, the story and the brilliant combat catches you and that the game has not yet revealed all its surprises.
The first has to do with the influence of the social links of the Persona saga. At our den We can also spend time with our friends and strengthen our bonds. They really seem like the true side quests of the game to me. It will open up extra conversations and, at a certain affinity level, even a little combat mission. As in Persona, leveling up the relationship opens up improvements in combat.
There is another name that comes to mind: Fire Emblem. Not only because the saga has also played a lot with the relationships between the group of allies, but because in its latest installments it has increasingly explored the different points of view. And here comes a pretty important feature of Scarlet Nexus: we can choose between two protagonists: Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall. I can only say that Yuito’s story is perhaps the most traditional and where you find more moments of discovery and surprises, while Kasane is somewhat more aware, especially in the first part, of some of the game’s plots.
The two protagonists manage the psychokinesis, but Yuito uses the sword while Kasane attacks from a distance with several fans. This is where you realize the good planning of the game and how you take advantage of those vignettes to be able to mix the same dungeons often, but alter the whole story to be explored from a completely different point of view. They are not two games in one, but, although I have only been able to complete Yuito’s story in full, what I have tried about Kasane and what you are perceiving is that the second game with her will be very varied both in terms of playability (Kasane has his own squad), as in the story, completing a similar arc at times and very different at others.
Nexus between generations
Scarlet Nexus accomplishes many things right the first timeScarlet Nexus may be a game designed for the previous generation, but in the version I have played of PlayStation 5 it looks beautiful. The traditional cel shading has not only gone into great detail, but at high resolutions with next-gen consoles and PC it’s crisp And it stands out no matter how much you’ve played similar games. The 60 frames per second available on the PS5 and Xbox Series X | S versions. I haven’t been able to test it on the older-gen consoles, which go at 30fps, but the combat certainly looks good thanks to the high frame rates per second. The game also comes with voices in Japanese and English and has a very fulfilling soundtrack. Also, I have not found not a single bug: everything in my game has gone smoothly.
I love analyzing games like Scarlet Nexus. These new IPs that have a blank canvas to test ideas both in their systems and in the story they want to tell us… I really think it’s important, no matter how much established franchises seduce us. Many games, in fact, take advantage of the sequels to polish all those rough edges that did not finish curdling in the first part, but I think Scarlet Nexus does a lot of things right the first time. And I think it succeeds because the team of Bandai Namco had things very clear on paper that has allowed them to know where they could invest the resources and where not. In my opinion, Scarlet Nexus is a little surprise, fun, absorbing, convoluted, well spun, frantic and a pleasure to go from beginning to end.