(Available for PlayStation 5, PlayStation4, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One and PC )
While I do like a lot of these anime hack and slash style games, which have also been well received by critics, you have to admit that they do all appear somewhat samey when it comes to story. They all seem to be based in the future with an otherworldly force threatening to destroy humanity, and you’re a newcomer to some organization that deals with these threats, but the organization seems to have a shady side to it which turns out to be the actual main threat, and so on. While these games are definitely a lot of fun, I would be lying if I said that these stories weren’t getting a bit tiresome. And to add to the pile of these games is Scarlet Nexus, a new game developed by Bandai Namco and Tose and published on 25th June 2021 for PC, Playstation 4 & 5 and Xbox One & Series X.
In an alternate and futuristic version of 2020, the world is being attacked by an otherworldly force known as the Others, a race of beings that descended from something known as the Extinction Belt. You play as either Yuito Sumuragi or Kasane Randall (I will never get used to them giving english surnames to characters with Japanese first names), new recruits to the OSF (Others Suppression Force) who are tasked with protecting the residents of New Himuka. But the OSF and the government of New Himuka has a dark side to it that the main characters have to discover and expose. What makes this game interesting is that the story is very reminiscent of Sonic Adventure 2, where both Yuito and Kasane, while going through the same story, go down very different routes, and you’ll be able to pick who’s story to follow from the beginning of the game. While their stories will converge on occasion, they will go through very different experiences, meaning that while you can just play as one and get a basic idea of the plot overall, if you want a full grasp of the story you will need to play both. It adds a breath of fresh air to this story that I really like, and that I also wish they would have added to other games like The Last of Us part 2 (and no, I will never stop crapping on this game).
One thing I have to praise the game for is the character models, while not the most unique, they’re all very distinctive, especially when compared to other anime games, and they all fit the characters personalities very well. The designs for the Others are also really good, they have a very floral design, which makes them look very unique to enemies in other games. Sadly the same can’t really be said about the environment set pieces, while at times they are very unique, most times they’re very generic and feel very been there done that. The music is pretty good as well, definitely a lot better than I was expecting, with a lot of songs that sound very light and, for lack of better term, anime, and even some that I would say is more reminiscent of something like Devil May Cry, the best for me being Internal Madness. The voice acting for the most part is passable, it’s nothing amazing but it gets the job done. That being said though, it’s pretty obvious that the game wasn’t optimised for the English dub, as there are long pauses between characters lines at times, even during the cutscenes that are just still images where the characters mouths don’t move, and during the ones where they are moving, the lip syncing is clearly still meant for the Japanese dub and hasn’t been altered at all.
The game is a hack and slash with elements of JRPG added into it. You traverse different environments – some linear, some expansive – and fight through small groups of Others. While having the same movesets, for the most part, Yuito and Kasane play quite differently from one another. Yuito wields a somewhat large sword dealing more damage while doing less hits, while Kasane uses a bundle of knives that hits the enemies more but deals less damage with each knife. Personally, while I found both fun to play, I found myself enjoying how Yuito played slightly more, as I just prefer dealing more damage with each attack. To go with your weapons, you also have an ability called Psychokinesis (insert Sonic 06 joke here), which allows you to interact with objects in the environment to attack enemies with. Some objects are just launched at enemies when you use Psychokinesis on them, though there are some special ones that, when used, also gives you a quick time event that will either deal more damage or add a status ailment to the enemies when performed. You keep track of your Psychokinesis via a bar just above your health, once depleted it will either fill up on its own if you’re not in battle, or you’ll have to refill it by attacking Others.
When fighting you have two extra abilities called Brain Drive and Brain Field. When Brain Drive is active, you’ll gain enhanced speed and will be able to deal more damage to enemies and attack faster, as well as other benefits that you’ll gain as you level up. While this mechanic is really powerful, it activates automatically and there’s no way to turn it off, because of this I found myself in numerous situations where Brain Drive will activate after I’ve already killed all the enemies, wasting it and forcing me to rush about to find a new group to fight in the hopes of actually using it. Brain Field on the other hand is completely different, it’ll transport you and the enemies to a different plain, while there you deal damage to the Others by throwing and swinging mounds of debris, this also lasts for a short amount of time, though you’ll have to deactivate it before the meter for it is completely depleted otherwise it’ll lead to a game over. These, as well as other abilities, can be upgraded in the Brain Field. Whenever you level up you gain points that you can spend in the Brain Field that will either improve your current skills and let you obtain new ones, the more powerful the skill, the more expensive.
As well as these, you’re also able to use the abilities of your OSF allies called SAS. Your friends also have their own Kinesis powers that you’re able to tap into, it adds extra benefits and are pretty much essential for certain Others. Both Yuito and Kasane’s stories will have you using different SAS Kinesis and you’ll quickly find your favourites. Personally I found my favourites being Hinabi’s Pyrokinesis and Luka’s Teleportation in Yuito’s story and Kyoka’s Duplication in Kasane’s story. Though you’re only able to use their SAS abilities for so long until they run out and you have to wait for them to recharge, or you have to use an item to fill them up again, while I do understand why this is done it’s still kind of annoying when you’re up against a certain enemy that requires that particular Kinesis. You’re able to have your allies gain extra skills to aid you by increasing their friendship meter. You do this by giving them gifts, some they prefer to others, and by initiating a cutscene that depicts Yuito or Kasane interacting with that person. I really like these friendship cutscenes as it lets you learn more about the characters that you wouldn’t have known otherwise, and you’ll quickly learn who your favourites are (Tsugumi is best girl and screw Shiden).
But of course a game isn’t without their faults in which this game has plenty. The first problem is the tutorials, or to be more accurate, the fact that you can’t turn them off. While I did find some of them very helpful in Yuito’s story, while others somewhat unnecessary, in Kasane’s story I found them way too annoying and was begging for a way to turn them off which unfortunately wasn’t available, especially if you’re like me and went straight into the other characters story after finishing the first one. The second problem is the lack of funds that you have in the game. You’re able to buy items from the shops spread throughout the levels of the game, from weapons to healing items. The problem is that for the first half of the game, I found that I was severely lacking in the money needed for these items, even when I grinded I found that I only had just enough for what I was planning to buy, which lead to me going into battles with few healing items and some of my allies wielding weaker weapons. Luckily, as I was fighting stronger and more Others, I found that I was getting more funds and was easily able to buy the healing items I needed. Sadly though, the biggest problem with the game is its length. While length doesn’t really bother me most of the time, I prefer my games to be longer anyway, I found this game just way too long, to the point where I got about halfway through Kasane’s story before stopping; which is a shame because her route was my favourite of the two. It took me about 26 hours just to finish Yuito’s story, which for a game like this, is stretching it a little, but considering the fact that I have to play through this game twice to get the full story, 26 hours is ridiculous. It left me winded after playing it for only a couple of hours after a while and I just found myself getting really tired of the game, which is a shame because I was really enjoying it up until that point.
While Scarlet Nexus in terms of story isn’t anything unique, I found myself having a lot of fun with it. It takes a formula that we’ve seen plenty of times and tries something new with it, and it really does work. While it’s not a perfect game by a long shot, and the length might be too much for most, I still very much recommend this game to you. Just make sure you take a break in between stories.
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant
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