Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release Date: June 25, 2021
Price: $59.99 MSRP
Available on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC
Total Playtime: 60 Hours – Platinum Trophy Obtained.
Bandai Namco have created so many games and IPs in recent years; however, in my opinion, one of the best ones that they developed at Bandai Namco Studios in the past few years has got to be Scarlet Nexus. This title is a brand new cyberpunk action/adventure RPG that has a lot of vibes from other titles that I enjoy, including some aspects that has vibes similar to one of my favorite RPGs of all time, Persona. Bandai Namco has not always impressed me with what they create within their internal studios, based on my personal tastes in gaming, but when they do actually create something that I love, I really want to highlight the game and the creativity that the developers had for it.
Scarlet Nexus is a game that can take a while to finish since there are actually two stories that are intertwined with one another. In one adventure, you play as Yuito Sumeragi who is a child who is part of an elite family in the city of New Himuka. Yuito and his best friend Nagi, join the OSF, which is known as the Others Suppression Force, and your goal is to save people in need and help keep order in society. The way in which they join the OSF was by being volunteers instead of being recruited. The second adventure, you play as Kasane Randall who is someone whose past is unravelled throughout the story of the game, but is part of the Randall family, who is a powerful family in New Himuka. Kasane and her sister, Naomi Randall, join the OSF through means of being recruited. Both of these two stories intertwine in many different ways.
In the game, you are soldiers that are part of a group of individuals to take down creatures known as Others. These are basically the enemies in the game that you must defeat and learn where they come from. Your overarching goal of finding out what happened to the world and why Others are there, takes you through so many different twists and turns that requires you to solve the mysteries that are baked into the story. Each of the stories have scenes that are the same but with different perspectives, while others completely different scenes that are recapped in the other’s story so you can get the main gist of what is going on, but to fully understand it, the game wants you to play both characters. You will learn some shocking truths in Kasane’s story that you don’t learn about in Yuito’s and vise versa. There are mysteries in all aspect of the game, but they slowly start to unravel the closer you get to the end.
The way in which most of the story is in the form of a comic book setting where one character is on one side of the screen, while the other one is on the opposite side. There were also moments when there were fully animated cutscenes which I felt like they were really well made. There wasn’t too many of these scenes but when they did actually occur, it was a welcomed change of pace. The storybook / comic book style of storytelling was one I haven’t seen much in the past, if at all so it was definitely a memorable experience. Saying that though, I wished that they put a little bit more effort in them. I noticed different spelling issues, the text didn’t always match what the characters were saying and small little things that took away from the whole experience of the story, although it definitely wasn’t detrimental for me. Saying this, as a whole, the story is definitely a highlight of the game for me.
In the game, you work with many different compadres and they each have their own powerful moves and skills. You can only play as either Yutio or Kasane but you can use the power of others by using something called SAS. This is basically a system where you can activate abilities that can be used for a short time while they are active. No two power is the same and each of the powers that you can use depend on progression in the story. You will unlock more once you reach close to the end of the game, but depending if you play as either Yuito or Kasane, you will get different ones at the beginning.
These are the characters that are available in the game, in no specific order or separated based on the protagonist you choose to keep the spoilers a minimum. Luka who has the power of Teleportation, Shiden who controls lightning using Electrokinesis, Kagero who is stealthy using Invincibility, Kyoka confuses others with tricky duplication, Tsugumi has Clairvoyance to see the unseen, Gemma who uses Sclerokinesis to protect, Arashi who is very quick using Hypervelocity, and last but not least Hanabi who specializes in burning enemies using Pyrokinesis. I personally liked the fact you don’t get everyone in the list in the beginning since even if you have to go through some of the same areas and battle the same enemies, you will have to adapt to the powers you have available. You will unlock everyone close to the end of the game so you might have to change up the fighting styles to adapt to meeting new enemies or situations. Speaking of, let’s talk about the main protagonists and how they fight.
To begin, each of the main protagonists can use Psychokinesis to hurl objects at enemies and do some other crazy stuff that are unlocked later in the game, including the brain field. Starting with Yuito, he is an up close and a physical attacker that uses a katana style sword that has a lot of power, but the downside is he isn’t very fast with his attack and has more of a lag after he swings his sword. On the other hand, you have Kasane who is much quicker on her feet and is more of a range style since she uses throwing knives that can attack at a fairly decent range. The downside with her character compared to Yuito’s, is she is a little bit weaker and needs to land more hits to kill the enemies in the game. Either way you go, it is an RPG game so they grow over the course of the adventure.
This is an RPG so as you play, you gain experience points, unlock new abilities and powers, and features that are unlocked through the brain map, i.e. the skill tree in the game. Now, each of the characters, Yuito and Kasane, have different abilities on their skill trees, which means you will see different styles overall. For example, Kasane has a double air dash ability on her tree while Yuito doesn’t. Most of them are the same or similar, but there are differences to match the capabilities of the character you are playing as. I played the game on Normal difficulty for both paths, and I never really felt the need to go and level grind like 20 levels as the game keeps you at pace for most of the time, but that’s not to say I never died, because I did. Some of the battles that you are put in, you really have to think about the best way of going about it since sometimes you can be overrun with powerful Others, and you might not have all the tools you thought you would. The combat is fluid and smooth and I loved playing with the dualsense and adaptive triggers as it felt clean to push down and throw the item; btw I played this on the PlayStation 5.
In the game, there are two main sections of the game that you play. One of them is the story chapter episodes. In these sections, you explore different areas, fight lots of enemies, solve puzzles/collecting items, explore story elements, and then face off against a boss at the end of the chapter. There are a total of 11 different chapters within the game, and in all honesty, this was a very similar pattern for most, if not all of the chapters. Not to say this was bad, these paths aren’t really an open world and they are more linear so it felt a little bit repetitive when I was close to the end of my second playthrough with Kasane, but each of the areas in the game were different and felt different so there was enough variety. If the areas were a little bit more open, I think that may have helped the overall experience. The second part of the game besides the main chapters, were the standby phases.
Honestly, during the standby phases, I felt myself really having a blast. During these times, between chapters in the story, it is basically a time where you can go back to previously explored areas to get items and/or level up your characters, or complete different side missions. The side missions in this game were extremely repetitive in which most of them required killing enemies with certain conditions, or collecting certain items for different people. The rewards ranged from money or exp or different items that were helpful. The other thing you can do in a standby phases is hanging out at the team base with your teammates. This part felt reminensince of character/bond building in the Persona franchise, since you got to see sides of the characters you would otherwise just skip over and they will help you later on in the game.
Each of your friends have something called a “bond level”. These bond levels basically tell you how close you are with one another and they allow you to unlock new abilities when you are in combat, which is helpful later in the game. You can give and receive gifts from them and unlock side stories that highlight each of the characters. There are so many different things that you learn about the characters in these that you otherwise wouldn’t know about them, and there are some shocking truths that can be unravelled if you take the time to do so. There is also a team bond level once you get to level 3 with everyone and the way in which the teams bond story elements play out is really cool.
The story is great, the different things that you do in the game including bonding with your allies and fighting the Others is all fun. What about the other things like the music and sound design, voice acting, visuals, and the overall experience of the title? Well… let’s start with the visuals. The game looks and runs beautifully on the PlayStation 5. I haven’t seen any game breaking bugs or issues, just little things here and there. The was one thing that made me exit the whole game and reload back into it since I couldn’t exit the menu, but in all honesty there are so many places to save, along with the game auto saving fairly regularly, so I didn’t miss more than like 2 minutes of my game. During combat, the game runs smooth on the PS5 and I didn’t feel any slowdown; I cannot talk about other systems since I haven’t played on them but I expect those to run the game well also.
Now, for the music. This game has a killer opening theme that I only actually skipped once when starting it up because of how catchy it is. The music and sound design throughout the title is top notch and it is very hard to complain about it. It is a cyberpunk kind of tune in some areas, while other areas have a creepy ambiance, some of them have an intense rock sound, and there are even more than this. A lot of them have an upbeat tempo and pace, while some are more mellow; it really depends where you are in the game. In terms of Voice acting, I played using the English language and I loved every character and how they were portrayed. I think everyone fit the attitude of how the characters where designed, whether it was soft spoken, or off putting.
For the overall experience, do I regret getting this game? Hell, no! I do not at all regret this purchase whatsoever. Sometimes in the past, I have regretted games that I was a little hesitant on. There is so much to do in this game and with my playtime of about 60 hours, there is a huge amount of value packed in the disc, or digital download. If you like RPGs that are traditional, but they have a twist, this is definitely a game that you will want to try. The story is solid, the music and voice acting are really good and fit the vibes of the game, the graphics and visuals are stunning, and the overall gameplay is high quality. There is a demo for it on different platforms and I recommend that demo if you are curious about the combat as it takes you through the first mission of each character’s story. You won’t be able to see everything, but you will get a feeling for the combat and the way in which the dialog is told. This experience is a thrill to play and I enjoyed every minute of playing it! Honestly, this will be a game that will probably stay in my top 10 games of 2021, and there are a lot of titles that I have loved and a lot that I am looking forward to.