Over the years Bandai Namco has published a number of edgy anime-esque takes on popular franchises. First, there was God Eater, which took a lot from Monster Hunter, which stood out in its own way. Then there was Code Vein last year, something many views as a new take on From Software’s Soulsborne titles. Their latest title, Scarlet Nexus, starts with a better foundation, think something like Bandai Namco’s popular Tales series, with a lot of these quirks. It’s clear Bandai Namco is investing heavily in the franchise, there is already an anime confirmed, with it having a positive reception to the demo but can it stick to landing? Here’s our Scarlet Nexus review.
Scarlet Nexus makes it clear from the beginning, it wants to build to something greater. As a result, following selecting either Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall’s stories, players are introduced to the Other Suppression Force (OSF) training program. Things seem relatively normal, outside of being a low-ranking warrior fighting grotesque creatures known simple as Others, with a lot of time spent introducing and filling out the supporting cast. Shortly after, a major event happens, higher ranking and more proficient warriors answer the call and it feels like the start of any number of anime/manga series in the past 30 years.
Scarlet Nexus Review: Starts small before growing into something much larger
And, much like those aforementioned series with a humble beginning, a massive conflict begins between various forces. A large part of the Scarlet Nexus looks at that conflict and slowly reveals information that explains these events, ultimately leading to the conclusion, assuming you can survive long enough to get there.
Even if Scarlet Nexus’ story takes a slight investment to get going, the gameplay is fun right out of the gate. The world is presented in a somewhat open, but still largely linear, path filled with interesting sights and characters. Fans of world-building can take to a number of NPCs in a city, with stuff hidden in out-of-the-way paths, send messages to your friends in the OSF, or you can rush to the next stage.
What makes the combat engaging is very reminiscent of Control. Like that, Scarlet Nexus has melee controls, a support system of sorts, items, and psychokinesis to grab and control nearby objects. It makes for a fun concept when a flying upside-down mannequin is flying at you and a nearby car can be used to, if nothing else, slow it down.
A huge part of this system is giving each play style a reason to exist. There is an attack that is great for flying enemies, various enemies weak to elements that you can buff your attacks with and everything is weak to objects but they can only be used after various melee attacks connect. Scarlet Nexus also expands on this concept as the further players progress.
Certain objects use a different command to grab and throw these items. Following that, there is typically a QTE that does a unique follow-up attack or it’s the key needed to defeat one of the fearsome bosses. It makes the average fights feel more diverse and way more engaging than sticking to the same established tactics. As things slowly start to expand, the idea becomes increasingly complicated and more important to master though it always remains something of a choice.
Out of all of the games in this art style, I’d say it works best for Scarlet Nexus. There is a much more vibrant color palette that relies heavily on striking contrasts. It’s absolutely edgy, though does so without being the whole attraction. For example, characters tend to have more of a cyberpunk neon thing going on, whereas enemies feel like distorted creatures spawned from animated trash.
Similar things can also be said about the soundtrack. At times it’s kind of techy and other times pulls from rock but these make for memorable sounds during gripping fights. Even exploring the city has a unique charm due to the sounds.
Scarlet Nexus Review Verdict
Scarlet Nexus, quite honestly, is a blast to play. Slowly melee enemies while using large objects around you to hold back large threats. Sure, there are times when it can feel annoying, especially if luck is not on your side but it is worth it. Similar things can be said about the story, though it really has a lot to say before finally hitting that turning point. Still, it’s worth the investment provided you pay attention to the details. Add in a nice soundtrack and great visuals and it’s hard not to be excited for Scarlet Nexus.
[Editor’s Note: Scarlet Nexus was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]