Bandai Namco are prolific when it comes to both action-RPGs and anime-themed video games, so it’s no surprise to see that their latest release embraces both. Sure, Scarlet Nexus might not be based upon an existing anime property, but you’d easily believe it thanks to its fleshed-out lore and stunning visuals. It also just so happens to offer an engrossing adventure that’s complimented by brilliant combat, so it will certainly tick plenty of boxes for action-RPG fans.
Scarlet Nexus takes place in a stylish dystopian future where the world is constantly at threat from strange monsters known as The Others that originate from a cloud-like entity that envelops the sky called the Extinction Belt. Fortunately, there’s a group in place to battle against this threat known as the OSF (Other Suppression Force) that are made up of battle-hardened and powerful psionics.
Check out a gallery of screenshots for the game down below:
What are psionics, I hear you ask? Well, the vast majority of the inhabitants of Scarlet Nexus’ world have special psionic abilities, allowing them to perform the likes of telepathic contact and so forth across a vast network. Sounds snazzy, right? It does come with some caveats, especially since the government control the network and are able to determine what its users can and can’t do (and even essentially censor some of the things that they can see). It makes for an interesting dynamic that’s explored in depth within the world of Scarlet Nexus, with the game tackling some interesting themes throughout its fairly lengthy runtime.
Players will see the tale unfold from two perspectives, with them choosing to play as one of two new recruits in the OSF: Yuito or Kasane. Whilst a lot of aspects of each character’s playthrough can feel the same, they take different approaches through the story that open up all new avenues and perspectives on the events taking place. It’s a meaty game and a single playthrough as a character will take over twenty hours to complete, so expect to have to spend a fair bit of time with it if you want to see everything.
Fortunately, the narrative is so engrossing that it was a pleasure spending so much time with it. I didn’t expect Scarlet Nexus to take as many dark and unexpected turns as it did, but I was constantly left guessing as to how the story would unfold with plenty of twists and surprises keeping me on my toes. I REALLY don’t want to spoil too much of it here because the plot ended up being one of the highlights of the experience, but players should certainly expect to find themselves mesmerized in the riveting tale.
“I didn’t expect Scarlet Nexus to take as many dark and unexpected turns as it did, but I was constantly left guessing as to how the story would unfold…”
Whilst the story shines throughout Scarlet Nexus, it’s in the combat that the game truly excels. Both Yuito and Kasane share a lot of similar sorts of moves, with them able to stride across the battlefield with finesse, unleash light and heavy attacks, and even use their powers to lob objects from the environment at enemies to unleash hefty damage. What, you thought those psionic abilities were just for show? They also bring with them an array of combos based around their playstyle, with Yuito fighting up-close and Kasane instead working best from range. These variations ensure that playing as both characters feels unique, even if they share a lot of the same mechanics as far as combat is concerned.
Other ideas are introduced throughout to spruce up combat and ensure players are powering up to deal with the trickier foes that come their way, whilst they’ll also be able to utilise the capabilities of their party members to unleash more powerful abilities. This can be as simple as applying an elemental power to your attack, or something more special such as bringing in a clone to hit twice the number of attacks on enemies, slowing down time to get the upper hand, or even turning invisible, just to name a few. There’s a whole lot of diversity to the system and tinkering around with all of your capabilities is ridiculously fun throughout – especially when stringing them all together in one explosive blend of attacks.
“Not once did I grow tired of the combat in the game, which just goes to show just how good Scarlet Nexus’ action really is.”
It all comes together to make for a combat system where button-mashing is fine to take out foes, but strategic and nuanced play is encouraged. There’s so much going on at any given time in each combat scenario, with the blend of quick attacks, psionic abilities, and teamwork going a long way to ensure each battle is utterly enthralling. Not once did I grow tired of the combat in the game, which just goes to show just how good Scarlet Nexus’ actionreally is.
It’s a good job too, because the game can be a little guilty of repeating some of the same battle scenarios and locales as players progress. It’s something that’s common place in action-RPGs so it can’t be held against the game too much, but repetition does rear its head over the lengthy runtime. It doesn’t stop the game from being fun to play, but there will be a few moments where you might think ‘haven’t I done this before?’ It’s especially apparent on your second playthrough, where some of the more generic dungeon designs and less interesting side missions can feel a bit more noticeable.
“Everything looks absolutely stunning throughout, with the heavily stylised anime world offering a host of wonderful sights that will keep players in awe.”
Outside of the intriguing story and brilliant combat, there’s plenty for players to invest themselves in. Players can customise the gear of their main character and the party, improve their capabilities by levelling up and spending points on the Brain Map (think of it as a skill tree made up of new abilities), and even build bonds with other party members in-between missions to improve your relationship with them and unlock powerful variations of their abilities. That last one is actually optional, but brings with it the opportunity to not only learn more about the characters and world of Scarlet Nexus but also embark on special Bond Episodes. It’s a fun addition that fleshes out some of the side characters of the game, even if it could drag out a little in places.
There’s just plenty to see and do across Scarlet Nexus, with everything coming together to make for an utterly engaging experience. Best of all, everything looks absolutely stunning throughout, with the heavily stylised anime world offering a host of wonderful sights that will keep players in awe – especially in combat, where some slick animations and stylish special effects ensure that each showdown looks insane. Of course, The Others themselves are grotesque in design and there are plenty of derelict sights to see, but everything still manages feels beautiful in its own way. It could be argued that some of the landscapes aren’t all the original in design as far as action-RPGs are concerned, but players shouldn’t mind too much given how jaw-dropping it looks.
Scarlet Nexus is a thrilling action-RPG that offers a surprised-filled narrative, slick action-packed combat, and stunning visuals… what more could you want? It really ticks all boxes as far as the genre is concerned and, outside of some repetitive moments here and there, rarely steps a foot wrong throughout its meaty adventure.
It’s just thrilling throughout and offers some of the best combat I’ve seen in an action-RPG in some time. Bandai Namco have set the bar high for future action-RPGs in this generation of consoles, with Scarlet Nexus proving to be one mighty fine release in the genre.
Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC