When the videogame industry did not yet have that incredible sounding board that allowed it to become a mass phenomenon followed by hundreds of millions of people around the world, East and West often experienced videogame development with diametrically opposed methodologies, all with the ultimate aim of creating productions capable of touching the right chords of their target audience. Today, however, those stakes have largely disappeared and, although some characteristic elements have still remained, distinctly oriental games have become westernized and vice versa, creating intriguing products that in these long years have impressed themselves strongly in the collective imagination. As you will read in our review, Scarlet Nexus fits perfectly in this field, with Bandai Namco turned out to be eager to offer the public an experience with a Japanese flavor that could also reach the tastes of Western players. Will she be successful? Let’s find out together.
Two hearts, one destiny
In an unspecified future, humanity had to face the threat of the White Walkers, monstrous creatures that have suddenly invaded and destroyed a large part of the planet while eliminating any human who stood in front of their path. To avoid annihilation, the government decides to found the ESF, a prestigious military force that deals with fighting the White Walkers through the use of human soldiers with unique capabilities. Following the arrival of the White Walkers, in fact, several civilians have obtained innate abilities that have proved incredibly useful on the battlefield. From telekinesis to clairvoyance, to the ability to unleash violent jets of fire or dangerous electrical storms, these are just some of the capabilities possessed by the men and women of the ESF, a powerful army that in the course of long decades and heated battles, it has finally succeeded in repelling the dangerous invaders, thus allowing the survivors to create an immense metropolis where life flows in relative serenity. However, the danger is always around the corner and the ESF continues to enrich its ranks with all the potential candidates who could help protect the population.
We will be just one of these recruits, service soldier who after hard training is finally ready to take part in field missions. From here our adventure will begin, an epic which, while making extensive use of those clichés to which we are now accustomed, has pleasantly entertained us thanks to a pressing narrative, well-inserted twists and characters that, while referring to the most classic of stereotypes, they manage to open up in front of the player by showing their own personality and charisma. The adventure flows so quickly, one chapter after another, in a successful combination of more lively phases flanked by more relaxed situations where the user on duty is launched in a whirlwind of events and situations that in the first hours will seem particularly confusing , to then become clearer and more delineated when, during the final stages of production, we will have all the pieces of the puzzle. Precisely for this reason, It is therefore regrettable to see how many narrative phases have been relegated to static images which, albeit well made, do not make up part of the pathos and epicity that the adventure would like to convey, a real shame if you consider that the animated scenes show off an excellent background direction.
Another element not to be underestimated also concerns the protagonist … or rather, the protagonists. At the beginning of the game, in fact, we will be asked whether to follow the events of Yuito or Kasane. two Psychics who will, however, be characterized by some specific tangible differences in-game. First of all, differences on a playful level, since Yuito will be specialized in hand-to-hand combat while Kasane will be more focused on distance fights; secondly, differences on a narrative level since, even if the story is substantially the same, each of the two characters will experience more or less different situations, an undoubtedly intriguing choice which – albeit without upsetting the structure at the base of the production – enriches the experience by also offering a good reason to face the adventure a second time, given that the second run will be useful to have a clearer understanding of the stage sector.
A world of possibilities
From an exquisitely playful point of view, the creature by Bandai Namco identifies as a JRPG with a distinctly action flavor that if at first glance it might appear simple and direct enough, in fact it has been able to turn out to be much more complex than expected. From the first in-game clashes we will have to deal with a whole repertoire of moves and skills that it will be our task to make the most of to eliminate any threat; sprints, combos and dodges will merge with our skills related to telekinesis, which will allow us to throw objects at the enemy or, again, to exploit elements of the scenario to our advantage. Each dungeon in which we move will in fact present some “environmental weapons” useful for scoring terrifying amounts of damage. To give some examples, we happened to get on an abandoned bus to “guide” it with our powers, investing in the meantime whatever monstrosity was blocking our path or, again, we could throw huge boulders at the head of the enemies, crushing them over and over. times with ferocious brutality. These fast playful phases rely on the most classic of QTE systems, which turned out to be well blended with the game structure and capable of greatly varying the general experience.
To enrich this system even more, our comrades think about it, which will follow us in the course of the various missions. Before taking the field, we will be able to choose which allies to take with us – among the numerous secondary characters present – and, depending on our choice, we will be able to rely on a whole series of additional skills. In fact, each member of our platoon has its own unique ability that we can exploit during the fighting. For example, a pyrokinetic ally will be able to set fire to our weapons to cause additional damage or, again, a clairvoyant will allow us to extend the amount of time available to us to make a perfect dodge. Furthermore, by playing we will be able to improve relations with our companions – both by taking them with us in battle and by chatting to each other within the game hub – in order to unlock additional skills to be exploited during the fights. Starting from this basic system, a particularly varied combat-system with a thousand possibilities soon emerges, so that the player can better choose how to approach everything. The fights, as frenetic and fun to play as they are spectacular to see, have also been able to present us with an appreciable challenge that on more than one occasion has been able to put us under pressure, especially during the excellent boss-fights present.
But if you thought we were done here, you’ll have to change your mind, since Scarlet Nexus still has several arrows to her bow. The production in fact presents a branched tree of skills to unlock one level after another, various weapons that can be equipped to be purchased in the different shops present in-game through the currency obtainable by completing primary and secondary tasks, and a resistance bar for the enemies that, once reset, will allow us to perform devastating attacks potentially capable of instantly eliminating the opponent on duty.
Finally, Brain Drive closes the circle, a status that will be activated automatically when you have fought for a certain amount of time and which will give you more power, speed and endurance. Furthermore, each time you reach the activation of the Brain Drive, you can awaken an additional telekinetic power within you that will make you almost invincible for a short period of time; be careful though, since by keeping that status active for too long you will literally end up frying your brain, running into the fateful game-over. In short, as you will have understood from our review, Scarlet Nexus sports a combat-system of great value that makes the variety of options and situations offered its workhorse, all expertly mixed in a riot of combos, dodges and powerful attacks. elementary that materialize in a dance of death and destruction galvanizing to say the least where there is really an abundance of meat on the fire.
From a technical point of view, production lives instead of ups and downs which on some occasions have left us a certain bitter aftertaste in the mouth. A character design of characters and (above all) quality creatures is in fact flanked by generally bare and repetitive settings, where invisible walls and unreachable areas will be the order of the day. On the other hand, the textures and the work put into animating the main characters and creatures that can be faced are good, while the NPCs scattered in the maps turned out to be far less attractive, as well as their polygonal density. In return, the Ps5 version we tested ran at a granite 60FPS even in the most agitated situations, all accompanied by a 4K resolution that will surely make the happiness of many. Finally, the audio sector proved to be of excellent workmanship, characterized by excellent dubbing – available both in English and Japanese with localization of the texts in Italian – and by a well-made soundtrack.