Well, without any further introduction, I am telling you that we are facing a candidate for Game of the Year. We’re talking about the latest work from Bandai Namco. The new video game from the Japanese studio (and distributor) comes after a demo or trial version that honestly doesn’t do justice to what this strange world is hiding. Super powers, spawns, lovable characters and Ah! the first new generation anime video game … join these lines and welcome to Scarlet Nexus.
Once we enter the world of Scarlet Nexus without wasting time or thinking too much, we have to make a pretty important decision for the rest of the game. Will we be the charming Yuito Sumeragi or will we bet on the enigmatic Kasane Randall? And be careful, the decision is important, or at least much more important than in typical games where our character is a simple avatar. Here, and despite the fact that most of the adventure is shared, there’s a good part that will turn out very differently depending on who you are … why? chss! To say that would be a minor spoiler. But let’s say it invites you to close twice, once for each character.
Once we have decided who we are going to be, the game begins. Apparently we live in a dystopian future, with cyberpunk overtones … but a bit more modern. On earth, people lead moderately normal lives … except there are some strange creatures called ages that appear out of nowhere and feed on human brains. Impressive…
It sounds bad of course, but society has lived in such conditions for a long time and it seems that old age is just another part of life itself. To combat them, special shelters were created and, above all, an elite army of supermen (and of course women) of the FSA armed forces.
The FSA is (as I said before) an army of very special people as its members have unique skills such as fire, electricity, wind, teleportation, duplication … a kind of X-Men. But with the peculiarity that everything is controlled by our brain. Do you know what they say that we are only using a ridiculous part of our brains? Well, in this game, the Protas (and the majority of the population) use it entirely (or almost).
In our particular case, whether we are Yuito or Kasane, our power will be that of telekinesis. That is, we will move objects with the mind. Be it a car, a damn train, or our own sword. Back to the X-Men, we’re like Magneto in a world full of metal. Which means that we throw whatever we find at our enemies. But … we’ll talk about the fight later.
I don’t want to get too caught up in the threads of history. I can say I liked the way it is told as well as the events we are told. It was without a doubt one of the game’s strengths that you need to know what will happen next. To see how little by little everything seems to become inextricably entangled in order to later offer flashes of light, to unravel this tangle and finally to let everything be knotted very well.
This is important as it could be said that much of the game is spent reading. This in turn stands for intelligence and effectiveness. The game is constantly aware of its complexity and volume. Therefore, it moves away from the film sequence and presents the story in lines of dialogue, similar to Fire Emblem. With a super cool aesthetic and semi-solid layers, with small animations that accompany the lines of text. And yes, I didn’t mention the mythical Nintendo saga by accident.
The main story is solved chapter by chapter, but in addition, in the interludes between one and the other, we will be able to visit our “base of operations”, where we will strengthen the relationship with our companions; either by giving them gifts (which we exchange for resources we received in battles) or just chatting with them. These are the perfect moments to learn a little more about the background of our allies. Which surprised me as they are all unique, complex characters with their strengths and weaknesses. From arrogant … to shy … by the mysterious or embarrassed.
Coupon. So far we know that this is a “high text” game with superpowers. But how do you play? We could define Scarlet Nexus as an action JRPG. No longer. If I have already said that one of their pillars is their story and narrative style, the other is undoubtedly their struggle. The fight is a real miracle.
As the chapters develop, we’ll explore a fairly linear map with the occasional rough edge, but it’s generally poor. The game won’t go down in history because of its level design, which I can call bad … bad. But in these corridors or in these big rooms or levels … we will fight. We will fight non-stop. The development of the chapters will consist in going from X to Z and fighting a large number of enemies. The age mentioned above … and one or the other person (the least).
Can the fight be so good that we forgive its disastrous proportions? Like in Final Fantasy VII Remake… Yes, the fight is its second pillar and it works like clockwork. It’s exciting and goes from less to more, from start to finish. Seldom have I seen such a well-measured difficulty curve and such a well-measured skill tree. This prevents us from adapting as at each level we level up we unlock improvements (to our liking) that if we pull them into battle multiple times, we will choose different strategies or do the same thing we will experience different paths to go through the fight until we try to find the one we like best … and without realizing it we will finish the game without repeating it.
Again, I didn’t mention the free FF VII remake. The fight reminded me a bit of the one in Square’s game. We could say that Scarlet Nexus plays with Hack & Slash and at the same time gives us a whole range of skills (magic in other games) so that we can interact with the environment and the enemies. It’s not about our ability to push buttons that counts, that is, it naturally gives it its place, for example during perfect evasive maneuvers. But it also gives us a number of tools in the form of scene elements so that we can use our forces to eliminate the enemy with little effort. It makes heavy use of puzzle bosses, some explicitly and some not.
I gave an example. A terrible age ahead of us. A giant fire-breathing crocodile, and to top it all, it doubles. We borrow Tsugumi’s power, clairvoyance, to see which of the monsters is right. Now we see a can of gasoline in our surroundings, which we throw at the real monster with our telekinesis. Now is the time to harness the power of hanabi, which is fire. And boom! Suddenly, we weakened the monster far more than just with sticks. His energy bar is minimal and if we break him we can carry out an execution that will end him even if his life is half or almost full.
The executions are amazing. Something like what was seen in Doom. Aside from being super animated and different for each enemy, it does something else really well. And it shouldn’t be difficult. They are sequences of a few seconds, but it is clear that if we repeat them every time, we could get tired. For this reason, each animation has a simplified version and from time to time the longer version is used, but when the system sees that we are doing several consecutive ones, it automatically chooses the express version so as not to break the rhythm of the game. It’s the small details that make us together (again) to one of the best games of the year.
There are games that get everything right without doing anything wrong and moving in a happy guideline. This is not the case, Scarlet Nexus is a game of spikes. Its story and battle brilliantly overlap with the other elements that make up the title, making it a great game.
Hence, we have a new IP with a very interesting story that reveals a new saga that, although its story is tightly closed, screams for a sequel and for an expansion of this wonderful universe beyond the anime that is on the verge of extinction.
Its artistic part is brutal, it’s wonderful to see this animated style today. If video games like Dragon Ball Figtherz have already made us dream, I think it will be in this new generation where we will reach an honestly overwhelming level of quality. Scarlet Nexus is still a cross-generational game but the quality with which it moves on the new consoles is great, the sixty frames now seem undeniable. And these cities, these backdrops, so personal, so full of detail, serve as the perfect packaging for the quality of the gameplay. All of this is also supported by a very animated soundtrack, with a Japanese rock that will stay in your gamer’s head for a few weeks and that maybe and just maybe make you go to Spotify to accompany you in your everyday life.
But it’s not just the artistic field that stands out for its anime style, the character design is amazing too. At this point in the movie, where everything seems to be made up (and even claimed to be), we see some horrific and truly unique monsters, like a bouquet of goat’s feet and high heels. But the characters as well as their powers and their use are something really cool. But aside from its originality with those neural cables so present or that neo-samurai style … best of all is that it’s very cool and it makes us buy skins and nonsense that are just for the purpose of looking better .
Scarlet Nexus enchanted me from start to finish. And I think it’s a must for all JRPG lovers. I’ve never fallen in love with an anime like this before. There are moments that I found in Attack on Titan, others that I remembered lovable moments playing Fire Emblem, and I’ve returned to enjoy a fight as passionate as that of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Yes, Scarlet Nexus is a hodgepodge of ideas, ideas, mechanics, and story taken together to make a game to remember.