This week we are going to review the newly released indie MMO Scarlet Nexus . The game is a world heritage MMORPG made by indie developers Scarlet Sky , so we were looking forward to a great game with a lot of potential.
The Scarlet Nexus is a card game set in the world of The Scarlet Heroes , a comic series by award-winning artist John Hansen.
Scarlet Nexus is a new game that is fairly unique. The game is a mix between a slug-fest and a tower defense game (a combination that works all too well). The game is set in medieval times and follows the footsteps of the original tower defense games. The main draw of the game is the way that you have to work with your team to successfully complete each level while trying to avoid being captured by the enemy.
Bandai Namco introduces players to a dark and dystopian brain-punk adventure with the game Scarlet Nexus. This all-new anime-inspired game features an in-depth, interlocking story, as well as real-time battles and memorable characters. Fully dubbed and available on all major console platforms and PC (with the exception of Nintendo Switch), this game certainly looks good, but can it have more appeal than current niche anime games?
Scarlet Nexus focuses on the story and offers the player two adventure paths by choosing one of the two main characters. I used Yuito Sumeragi in my journey; there are male and female main characters, both with different stories.
Yuito Sumeragi is a young man who dreams of joining the Other Suppression Force (OSF) after one of its members saved his life as a child. He is a descendant of the Founder and has relatives in the upper echelons of the FOP, which makes it even more difficult for him to rise higher than the usual recruits – he has to impress his family and his superiors at the same time.
Scarlet Nexus focuses on an exciting adventure story. Humanity is threatened by supernatural beings known as the Others. In the distant future, a special psionic hormone has been discovered in the human brain. This special hormone unlocks the hidden potential of some people’s minds and gives them supernatural abilities. This wave of power attracted terrifying mutant creatures that descended from the heavens in search of a feast and devoured the brains of every human they encountered. With conventional military weapons and tactics unsuitable for the Others, humanity’s last hope for survival lay in the hands of the psionics of the FOP.
If story and narrative were the only criteria, Scarlet Nexus would be a hit. The developers combine a stylized presentation of the story with animated character portraits and environments, great cutscenes and excellent voice acting. Everything came together to create a story that captivated me from start to finish. Unfortunately, it has been plagued by the same problems as similar games for years.
The design and creative direction of the game is very linear. From the gangly environments to the predictably constructed scenes, the game has issues with repetition and pacing, making much of the game very predictable and not well understood.
You complete a mission, get immersed in the story, and then there’s a break where you can chat with your allies, give them gifts, and learn more about them. This is not a bad design in itself, but the flow of the game suffers when the game prioritizes battles or the story too much. Often I was almost exhausted at the thought of another fight, and sometimes I waited with dread for more dialogue. While the story and battles are of a very high standard, the pace of the game will not please everyone.
The Scarlet Nexus game is focused on combat and story. The side content – pointless side missions that offer little more than rewards for helping in battle – is hard to manage. Very little attention is paid to the simultaneous management of different tasks or even to the monitoring of objectives. There is no searching either; there is almost always only one path to the goal, and deviating from that path never yields more than objects or other small benefits. The linear design will probably appeal to some, but I would have liked to see more meaningful secondary content in a game rich in story and world. In other words, it’s a missed opportunity.
Fortunately, the side content can be completely ignored, which is what I did for most of the later stages of the game. I wanted to move the story forward, learn more about the characters and this fascinating world, a setting that quickly became one of the best Bandai Namco has ever made. Even the ability to fully immerse yourself in this creative environment was hampered by a repetitive and often frustrating combat system.
At first glance, Scarlet Nexus’ combat system is fantastic. The graphics are stunning, the design of the enemies is incredible, sinister and vile, even terrifying in places. But as the game progresses, the lack of depth and variety starts to feel monotonous. As Yuito Sumeragi, you use psychokinetic abilities that allow you to pick up nearby objects with your mind and throw them at your enemies. Garbage cans, metal grates, crates, even cars – an impressive array of objects to throw into the fray. Some of the more powerful elements have short but easy-to-use prompt buttons for quick events, which are impressive and entertaining.
The combination of these psychokinetic and sword combos makes for some intense fight scenes, but it doesn’t evolve the base much. As you progress through the game and gain new allies, you unlock Special Action System (SAS) combat weapons (what’s with those weird acronyms in these games?). SAS attacks allow you to use the supernatural powers of your allies as if they were your own. A good selection is offered. You can slow down time, give your weapons special elemental damage, use defensive skills to become impervious to damage, and unlock teleportation skills. The variety and presentation of these items is fantastic, but it is the need for these skills that breeds repetition.
Most SAS skills are resources specifically designed to defeat certain types of enemies. Some enemies become invisible during combat, while others are immune to damage once you’re in mêlée range. You can use SAS skills to counter these actions, but it’s mandatory. Instead of opening up a new wave of possible combos of attacks and skills, it simply acts as a necessary tool to progress.
That’s not to say the game isn’t fun, especially in the later stages of the game when you’re being attacked by multiple types of enemies at once. Using the right set of SAS attacks to take out enemies is an impressive feat that feels great – at least the first few times – but quickly becomes monotonous. This problem is exacerbated by the poor mechanism of the camera and the mount.
Focusing on a specific enemy is much harder than it should be, and even when you do manage to focus, there’s not enough movement in your attacks to complete the game, so you’ll often find yourself in a vacuum when the auto-targeting gets the wrong enemy and turns your character around. Switching targets manually is optional, but every time you hit a new enemy, the target automatically changes. It’s a cumbersome system that really detracts from what could have been a smooth combat experience.
This makes the game very frustrating on any difficulty level that is not easy. Everyone else has a weakness, a body part that unlocks even more devastating attacks. However, like SAS capabilities, they are mandatory, not optional. It can be the difference between 30 seconds to beat your opponent and five minutes. These weaknesses are indicated by visual cues, but you can’t get a feel for those specific parts of the opponent. Typically, you fight with a camera and lock-on system to hit a very specific part of the enemy, hoping to hit them with the minimal movement that combo attacks provide.
Scarlet Nexus offers a story that is impossible to recommend. Bandai Namco has created a fascinating world that will leave you wanting more, even after you finish the game. The ability to play as a second protagonist who gives the story a different twist would have been ideal, were it not for the game’s other flaws. Repetitive mechanics and frustrating combat design detract from an otherwise incredible adventure.
This review of Scarlet Nexus was conducted on PlayStation 5 using the PlayStation 4 version of the game. The digital code was provided by the publisher.
Scarlet Nexus is fully dubbed and available for all major console platforms and PC (except Nintendo Switch). It looks good, but can it offer more?
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