Scarlet Nexus' engaging and visually spectacular combat manages to save the game from what would otherwise be an okayish experience with a slow and unnecessary long story and dull missions.
Scarlet Nexus won't be my favourite game of the year but I would be lying if I said I didn't have fun slaying abnormal combinations of plants, animals and human bodies.
It would be fair to say that Scarlet Nexus is a good game that offers plenty of content with its two campaigns, combat that feels engaging and fresh from start to finish and memorable characters despite their cringy moments.
It does have flaws, which can make the game feel dull and slow at times, especially early on.
The game is set in an alternate future, the world of New Himuka where a widespread technology of the future has found its place in every aspect of the lives of ordinary humans. In Scarlet Nexus, humans can use technology to connect their minds to everyday objects and interact with the world around them, accessing all the services they need including bank accounts, their medical details and more.
However, the world has been invaded by a mysterious force named The Others, who feed on the human brains, literally. The Others are a constant threat to the human race and you are one of the super-soldiers who are on the frontlines of this war.
You can play either as Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall since the game features two campaigns. Yuito and Kasane are members of a special group the OSF (Other Suppression Force) and possess "extra-sensory abilities", or you can just call them superpowers.
The story kicks off when both join the OSF and after certain events unfold early on, Yuito and Kasane realise that their special group is hiding many secrets that you will be uncovering throughout your playthrough.
I found the story to be quite interesting in certain phases but also extremely dull once it starts to drag out for no reason whatsoever. It kicks off slowly with repetitive missions that don't do much in terms of the actual story progression but after five hours things get much more interesting and deeper than I was expecting them to be.
There's a conspiracy after a conspiracy after another conspiracy as you find yourself fighting both the otherworldly brain-eaters and people that were your colleagues just moments ago. Sometimes it felt like I was playing a long anime series, which deals with both serious dark themes but also tries to explain how important it is to have a girlfriend/boyfriend during tough times.
Scarlet Nexus is an action RPG, which allows you to have a party of up to four members, including yourself. Each party member has its own, unique abilities that you can borrow during combat.
Yuito and Kasane have telekinetic powers which allow them to throw objects at enemies. Using these powers, especially on big creatures can result in some spectacular action, making you feel super-powerful.
Other members can use Teleportation, Pyrokinesis, Clairvoyance and other powers and players can even unlock new skills for members by bonding with them, which includes simple conversations, helping them with a certain mission or gifting them random objects.
Players also get access to two ultimate-like abilities named Brain Drive and Brain Field. The former activates automatically once you fill the bar, making you much faster and stronger while the latter is where things truly get crazy.
Brain Field is activated manually and basically, it transforms the level into a different space, with strong vibrant colours and glitch effects. While in Brain Field, your power is pushed to the maximum, meaning that you can use your telekinetic powers without any restrictions, raining down objects on enemies and smashing them with powerful combos.
The combat is visually spectacular and it stays engaging until the very end. Just when you think you found the perfect combo that can be applied to every creature in the game, Scarlet Nexus throws something different in your way, forcing you to change your fighting style and scan for weak spots to exploit.
You'll need to approach almost every boss in a different way, using a set of powers at your disposal. Some can be taken down by regular attacks, others have armour that you need to break before depleting their health pool while the biggest bosses require a careful scanning of your environments in order to find the best way to defeat the monster.
Scarlet Nexus also has a skill tree named Brain Map but I found it to be a bit shallow since it doesn't offer as many skills and perks as I would have liked. At least not enough meaningful ones.
As for the loot, there's not much here. Enemies don't drop fancy new weapons and armour. Instead, slaying brain-eaters will reward you with materials that you can sell at vendors where you can buy the upgraded version of the same sword. Each OSF member has their unique weapon and an upgraded version can also be purchased for each member at the vendor.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Scarlet Nexus is truly a gorgeous game. Its art style is a unique blend of anime and realistic vistas and objects which makes the world feel true and alive, especially in the Souh City, which is packed with city skyscapes and neon lights.
During combat, the game gets even prettier thanks to all the flashy visual effects, which also add a sense of power and impact to those attacks you're unleashing on the enemies. Of course, being an anime game, this is somewhat expected from Scarlet Nexus but watching all those effects unfold right in front of you as you connect your combos never gets old.
When it comes to the performance of the game, I'm simply blown away by how good Scarlet Nexus runs. I've played on PC with Ryzen 3600, RX 5700 XT and 16 GB of RAM. Running on max settings and 1440p resolution, the game was buttery smooth without a single hiccup or frame drop.
On top of this, I have not noticed any bugs or game-breaking issues, which is certainly something the optimisation team should be proud of.
The soundtrack is another great feature of Scarlet Nexus. It combines heavy guitars, modern electronic music such as House, Techno and Drum and Bass with subtle piano notes, which results in something truly unique and memorable. It's definitely one of the highlights of Scarlet Nexus and it gives those electric battle scenes even more tension but also can perfectly fill an emotional moment when necessary.
With engaging and varied combat, gorgeous visuals and a memorable soundtrack, Scarlet Nexus is definitely worth your time, especially if you call yourself a fan of anime media. On the other hand, repetitive missions, the story which feels like a drag and lack of meaningful progress hurt the overall experience, which could have been much much more. Still, we recommend you give this one a go!
A massive thank you to Bandai Namco UK for providing us with a PC copy of the game for this review.
Scarlet Nexus is officially releasing on June 25, 2021, for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.