Scarlet Nexus overview: a stunning gem
Sequels and spinoffs are in every single place in video games. That’s as a result of creating one thing new may be dangerous. Scarlet Nexus, Bandai Namco’s upcoming role-playing recreation, shocked me. It has a powerful basis as a possible future franchise, with an above-average narrative and enjoyable gameplay and characters.
The recreation takes place in a fictional nation known as New Himuka that has been invaded by harmful creatures known as Others. These creatures fall from the sky, a part of a phenomenon known as the Extinction Belt. Society has been capable of make the most of a sure “psionic hormone” within the human mind that enables individuals to develop supernatural powers, akin to cryokinesis and air manipulation. Humans with these powers are known as “psionics,” they usually’re scouted and recruited by the Other Suppression Force, or OSF.
You have the selection between two protagonists, Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall, every of whom has their very own perspective on the sport’s plot. Other Japanese RPGs have featured concurrent plot strains earlier than, akin to Tales of Xillia, however in that recreation, there weren’t sufficient variations between the protagonists’ paths to warrant such a mechanic. By distinction, the narrative beats of every protagonist’s respective route in Scarlet Nexus are assorted sufficient to be notable for almost all of the sport. There are sure revelations and substantial lore dumps that solely Yuito’s or Kasane’s crew experiences, so it’s essential to play via each paths as a way to absolutely grasp your complete context of the sport’s story. It’s price doing; the plot takes some wild turns.
Each protagonist additionally has a set crew that follows them all through their journey, they usually’re all a enjoyable bunch. Bonding occasions popularized by collection like Persona are current in Scarlet Nexus. You get to study extra about every of your occasion members’ backstories and personalities by conversing with them on the Hideout throughout the intermissions between the sport’s chapters.
The dual-protagonist construction permits each characters to shine, with every path of the sport additionally balancing out the event of a dozen different characters, half of whom be a part of Yuito, whereas the others be a part of Kasane. The bonding episodes are entertaining, too. For instance, throughout a few of these episodes, Kasane’s easy persona clashes with the extra prideful demeanor of her teammate Shiden, inflicting him to interpret Kasane’s rational recommendation as private insults. Her no-nonsense perspective additionally permits her to close down the playboy-like advances of Kagero with snide remarks. Then there’s Yuito, the everyday kind-hearted anime hero who’s all the time down to assist and likewise can’t inform when a woman has a crush on him.
These interactions present a happier distinction to Scarlet Nexus’ darker moments. But the energy of those scenes makes it extra disappointing that Wataru Frazer and Haruka Frazer, the teams’ twin navigators, don’t get their very own bonding occasions, regardless of being main characters in the principle forged. The Frazer twins don’t have any direct influence on the gameplay, as they simply sit within the background and supply useful ideas throughout battle, however I might have cherished to study extra about them.
Not solely are the completely different character personalities balanced effectively between Yuito’s and Kasane’s respective events, however the gameplay does an incredible job of getting every member complement the protagonists’ respective preventing types. You can make the most of a mechanic known as the Struggle Arms System to borrow your crew member’s powers in order to reinforce your personal fight prowess.
Yuito makes a speciality of close-quarters fight with a sword, so borrowing Luka’s teleportation skill lets him rapidly shut the hole between him and an enemy. Of course, you too can teleport away from the enemy and struggle from a distance utilizing Yuito’s psychokinesis energy. Since Yuito is principally going to be up shut and private, he can borrow Gemma’s sclerokinesis to nullify all harm and knockback, permitting him to dish out as a lot destruction as he can with out being interrupted. Initially, you’ll be able to solely borrow one SAS energy at a time, however finally you’ll unlock the flexibility to activate a number of directly.
Meanwhile, Kasane is a midrange fighter geared up with knives. While each protagonists can hurl objects like vehicles and road poles with their psychokinesis powers (assume Control), Kasane appears to have the benefit right here, since she will capitalize on Kyoka’s duplication energy, permitting her to repeat and add to the variety of objects thrown. Additionally, if enemies get too shut, Kasane can make the most of both Arashi’s hypervelocity energy to decelerate time or Kagero’s invisibility to retreat and reposition herself.
Scarlet Nexus does undergo from a little bit of Kingdom Hearts syndrome, the place it’ll be the protagonist dispensing the overwhelming majority of the harm in comparison with their allies. While I wouldn’t name the teammates ineffective, I did discover a handful of instances after they had been simply standing round doing nothing whereas I used to be busy hacking away at enemies. Thankfully, they do heal you if you’re low on well being, they usually typically revive you for those who fall. You may also set their AI conduct to give attention to methods, like focusing on the identical enemy as you or evading them altogether.
As you deepen the bond stage between you and your teammates, you’ll additionally unlock cool new mechanics, akin to an opportunity of a celebration member blocking a single assault for you, or summoning them for a follow-up assault of your personal. As you get additional within the story, extra tactical choices open up, making fight extra enjoyable and fluid.
I additionally appreciated Scarlet Nexus’ extremely easy weapon improve system. You can discover weapon crafting supplies from pickups in dungeons or drops by enemies, and you too can buy armor and equipment on your characters. If the assault or protection quantity is increased than the one you’re presently carrying, equip it — growth, that’s it. There’s nothing convoluted right here, like innate weapon properties or different overly complicated techniques that burden some JRPGs ( you, Tales of Zestiria).
There are few locations the place Scarlet Nexus falters. Its dungeons include segmented arenas, with the large areas clearly hinting at enemy encounters; there’s little or no variation in dungeon design. My largest gripe is the aspect quests, which are actually all fetch quests. NPCs will ask you to kill a sure enemy in a selected means, then give you a reward after you report the duty as completed. These rewards aren’t actually even worthwhile anyway, as you’ll find, buy, or trade supplies for a lot of of them within the recreation’s store.
It’s too dangerous these aspect quests don’t take extra benefit of Scarlet Nexus’ wealthy lore and politics, which you study extra about via the bonding occasions. For instance, retired OSF members have bother adjusting to civilian life after leaving the group. There’s additionally a section of the inhabitants that was born with out psionic powers, and thus is seemed down upon. There are themes of classism, ableism, and discrimination within the recreation that would have been explored even additional for extra world-building.
Scarlet Nexus has a colourful forged of characters and a formidable number of gameplay mechanics, however for me, the surprising cherry on prime was its story. The chapters are very well-paced, and none of them overstays its welcome. 2021 is seeing various JRPGs, with lots of them being continuations of current franchises or simply remasters. But after having performed via each of Scarlet Nexus’ storylines, I consider it has the potential to be a shock hit this 12 months for followers of the style. Don’t let this brand-new futuristic brainpunk journey slip previous you.
Scarlet Nexus shall be launched June 25 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The recreation was reviewed on PS5 utilizing a pre-release obtain code offered by Bandai Namco. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media could earn commissions for merchandise bought by way of affiliate hyperlinks. You can discover additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.