Scarlet Nexus Review: A Surprising Gem

Welcome to the country of New Himuka the setting for the newest title from Bandai Namco Scarlet Nexus. 
Scarlet Nexus is a JRPG with the Japanese influence very evident in the animation style and general character styles. The game is predominantly set in New Hamuka which is a blending of both eastern and western visual aesthetics in a somewhat open world. Meaning you have the ability to explore a little or follow the linear story line. 

You take control of one of two protagonists. Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall who are cadets for the Other Suppression Force (OSF). The OSF is tasked with protecting New Himuka from being invaded by the dangerous "Others" I have a confession to make here. The first time I encountered one of these Others I thought it looked ridiculous, but as the story progresses you find there is more than one type. 
The others fall to earth from the sky from the phenomenon known as the Extinction belt. 
You learn that society has been able to open up the human mind and tap into certain psionic hormones within the brain. Those who have developed these psionic powers are scouted and recruited by the OSF which is where you fit in.  

Choosing either character gives you a different perspective on the story and each character also has their own party members who join you throughout your playthrough. Having a party join you is pretty much a staple of JRPG titles and Scarlet Nexus is no different in its approach. The parties compliment each protagonists play styles well and while they are effectively a very minor part of battles the ability to link via the brain link and utilize their abilities is a bonus. Plus the banter between each is good to see. 
Each character have short ranged weapons such as a sword or knives that are used psychokinetically but both Kasane and Yuito have the ability of psychokinesis allowing them to pick up and hurl cars or barricades amongst other things into their opponents giving you some awesome combos.
Abilities are upgraded through your "brain map" effectively your skill tree.  

Visually Scarlet Nexus draws its designs straight from its anime routes giving hard outlines, bright and vibrant colours and abundance of neon to highlight the beauty of the characters and landscape. The city is lined with augmented virtual billboards and cut scenes are presented in a mix of animated and storyboard style giving a nice touch. 
The voice acting is on point. You're given the option to experience Scarlet Nexus in either Japanese or English, I've always found Japanese to be such an emotive language and the English "dub" to feel somewhat flat compared however Scarlet Nexus has found the sweet spot with a fantastic performance in both. 

The main story will give you roughly 20 hours of play from each character and while I have not finished both I feel like the differences in each characters story means you need to play through both to give you a complete understanding in what is going on. 40 hours is a little long for an action style game such as this but the differences in combat styles and party dynamics  gives the story some level of re-playability. 
However in all honesty stay away from the side quests. They are borderline redundant. Each has been nothing more than a fetch quest or go here, kill this like that.... really not worth your time and probably the main down point to the story as they offer next to no added value. 

Scarlet Nexus on the surface looks like just another anime title but to push it into a niche such as this does it some disservice. What it lacks in some of its gameplay style it more than makes up for in story and the way it shows the relationships build within your chosen character play throughs.
The visuals alone will get you in the door. The story and gameplay will keep you there. 
If you're looking for a story with deep roots and opens its lore in a refreshing way Scarlet Nexus may just be what you're looking for. 

Scarlet Nexus is out now on the PS4, PS5, Xbox Consoles and PC. 

Reviewed on PC
Reviewed by Patrick Clifford

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