Scarlet Nexus marks the debut of Bandai Namco’s own studios on the next-generation of consoles, and we finally got a chance to see more of the game.
Twinfinite was invited to attend an online press preview event where we heard plenty more details from the development team itself.
The visuals of this action-JRPG appear to be an evolution of what we saw in Code Vein, which isn’t surprising considering that the two games share part of their staff. The legacy of the God Eater and Tales series is also quite visible.
What we have seen so far is certainly pleasing to the eye, especially considering that this is a cross-generation title that needs to run on PS4 and Xbox One as well, on top of PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC.
The genre is defined as “Brainpunk” because, while the world appears somewhat similar to cyberpunk settings, its technological development and the powers of the characters are based on the brain.
The development team mentioned that they “definitely” didn’t want to create another cyberpunk inspired game.
That being said, the setting is made of absolutely majestic cities that I would describe as a more Asian-inspired version of what we see in Cyberpunk media.
Interestingly, they appear closer to our current reality when you look closer to the ground, while they become more and more Cyberpunk-ish and exotic the higher you direct your gaze toward the sky.
Monster design is one of the most interesting parts of Scarlet Nexus’ visuals. The “Others” are mysterious creatures literally falling like rain from a fog-like phenomenon called the Extinction Belt high up in the sky. They have no consciousness and instinctively hunt human brains. I would not be surprised if they were partly inspired by Muv-Luv’s BETA.
Like rain, their fall can be forecasted, and thanks to that, humanity can defend itself and the number of victims has decreased, prompting us to somehow coexist with this threat.
Scarlet Nexus’ monsters have been designed by independent artist Masakazu Yamashiro. They are intended to look extremely foreign and grotesque, and still somewhat familiar in certain elements of their anatomy.
As for the game’s story, it tells the tale of a young cadet of the OSF (the force fighting against the Others) who has just joined.
It’s set in a country named New Himuka where everyone’s brain is connected via a massive network named “Psynet.”
This constant connection causes Yuito to harbor doubts on whether the OSF and the government are really acting for the common good.
The developers draw a parallel with the current modern world we live in, in which everyone is connected via social networks, but it’s even more extreme.
The player will encounter interesting themes like the nature of true loneliness in a world where everyone shares a direct mental connection with everyone else.
The main theme of the game is the bonds among characters, including how they help each other out, but there will be more to discover about this as the story progresses.
The action gameplay takes a different route from Code Vein and looks closer to NieR: Automata than to the Souls series, but with more focus on superpowers like the hero’s psychokinesis.
You can mix it up with katana action resulting in a system that looks mechanically both fast and engaging. It’ll be interesting to see what the final balance between easy to use and hard to master will be.
It’s possible to lock onto enemies and the sword gameplay is based on combos, with different monsters requiring different approaches. For instance, flying enemies call for a rising strike.
You can alternate sword attacks with throwing objects like barrels, rocks, or even cars. If you hit an enemy with those and press the sword attack button with the right timing, you’ll get into the rhythm of a fluid system named “step-in attack” which lets you keep the action going pretty much without interruption.
This combines with the “PK object follow-up attack” executed right after a sword hit. The more you use it, the harder it’ll hit. Yet, it’ll also consume your psychokinesis gauge, which you can recharge with the sword attack in turn.
You can step to avoid enemy attacks and dash to get closer. On top of that, the nature of psychokinesis itself means that you can take advantage of elements of the environment situationally, like dropping a crane on a boss to deal large amounts of damage.
Yuito doesn’t always fight alone and you can form a party of up to three members with his companions. You can equip them with a weapon and different plugins (which additional slots that can be progressively unlocked) and there is also a “visual” tab in the equipment menu, which presumably lets you customize the looks of each hero.
Speaking of customization, you can progress in a fairly complex skill tree named “Brain Map” in which you can spend BP to unlock a rather large number of skills within three main branches, “Enhance,” “Expand,” and “Support.”
You can also borrow powers from your companions via brain connection by setting buttons for them in the dedicated menu. They have different attacks from Yuito’s psychokinesis. For instance, his childhood friend Hanabi can use pyrokinesis, which is fire-based.
Of course, they will also support you in battle physically.
There are main story quests and sub-quests to do, and a “library” including notes on characters, different kinds of Others, and even “brain messages” from your companions. I did mention that it works a bit like social media.
Storytelling isn’t done only during cutscenes as there are dialogue and banter going on between characters during combat and exploration. When you’re connected with everyone else via your brain, I guess you don’t really need a radio.
Ultimately, Scarlet Nexus has a lot of potential both in its story and its gameplay. We’ll have to wait and see how much of it will be realized as development progresses.
It certainly plays to the strengths of Bandai Namco’s anime-style portfolio and fanbase, but it comes with plenty of original elements. I certainly wouldn’t define it one of the publisher’s many “usual anime games” that we’re all very familiar with.
The jury is still out, but this one could be a winner.
Scarlet Nexus is coming for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC.