Ever think about what it’d be like to have psychic powers? You have – I’m psychic, so I know what you’re thinking about. Naturally, you’re thinking that I’m full of it, but I knew that as well. I also know you’re interested in hearing about Scarlet Nexus, the latest action-RPG from our beloved action-RPG overlords Bandai Namco. If you could see the future you’d know it was pretty good, but let’s get into why that’s the case.
In the far-flung future, mankind has finally managed to unlock the power of their minds. Humanity has benefited greatly from the increased brainpower. Nobody microwaves fish at the office anymore! Your DoorDash orders always show up with the right food! We’re as close to Utopia as we can get…well, except for one thing. With your newly boosted intelligence and associated psychic powers, you’ve probably already guessed that it’s brain-eating monsters from an evil weather pattern, and you’d be right!
It’s up to the Scarlet Guardians of the OSF, a team of superpowered psychic operatives, to deal with the threat of the Others. We follow either of two telekinetic OSF protagonists, Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall, as they battle the Others and learn more about the shady truth of their world.
Scarlet Nexus departs from Namco’s most recent foray into the wild frontier of new IPs, Code Vein, by acting as more of a character-action game than a Souls-style stamina management sim. It’s probably closest to an action-RPG take on something like Bayonetta, though the combat is much simpler and there’s a much greater degree of levity when it comes to dodging and taking damage. Critically, despite the system being pretty easy to grasp for a new player, it’s possible to improve at Scarlet Nexus’ combat and this becomes important on the harder difficulty setting.
Hardcore players shouldn’t worry too much about battles degenerating into healing item spam. When you’re not fighting, you can take on quests and adjust your characters’ gear and skills much like a JRPG, which offers an enjoyable amount of customization and depth.
Your choice of protagonist is significant in several ways, including how the combat plays out – Yuito wields katanas, using melee combos to hack up Others, while Kasane telekinetically controls a brace of daggers to slice baddies apart. Along with this, both characters are telekinetic, so you can fling objects around and weave in object-flinging into your combos to maximize damage.
When you’ve got the Others on the ropes, you can finish them off with impressively brutal fatality moves, and when you’re in trouble yourself you can fill up the Brain Drive meter to enter a temporarily buffed state and even the odds. It all comes together pretty well and feels great in practice.
That’s not all, though. Yuito and Kasane also team up with other OSF members and are able to link up with them via the SAS System, allowing them to temporarily borrow their teammates’ powers. This means that working with a pyrokinetic ally will allow you to empower your melee attacks and flung objects with fire, for instance, while a clairvoyant ally will grant you improved counterattacks and the ability to see invisible enemies. Between missions you’re able to hang out with party members, giving them gifts and getting to know them better.
That’s worth paying attention to because in order to maximize the effectiveness of SAS links, you’ll need to improve bonds with your allies, Persona-style. It’s a nice touch, especially since the characters are a lot of fun and the plot is pretty gripping if you’re not immediately turned off by anime.
Scarlet Nexus was pretty clearly developed with an eye toward next-gen consoles and PC. The graphics are crisp and clear, with special attention paid to the wildly colorful character and monster designs. Even the gameplay factors into this as there’s junk all over the place for the telekinetic heroes to fling around during combat. This is great news for players on newer hardware, but the game struggles on older platforms. Definitely stick to the higher-end options if you’d like to get the most out of Scarlet Nexus.
Action game fans, JRPG aficionados, and anyone looking for their Tales-style character development fix ought to check out Scarlet Nexus. It’s a great merging of multiple genres into a cohesive whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s also a great glimpse into the future of this sort of game now that higher-end consoles are steadily becoming more available as a baseline for what’s possible graphically. Free your mind and give it a shot.