It's great to see game developers try their hand at completely new IPs and Scarlet Nexus is definitely a promising action-packed game.
The story premise of Scarlet Nexus is quite mind-blowing as you control a member of the mutant-hunting military whose job it is to eradicate invading mutants known as Others. Before beginning your adventure, you have to choose between 2 characters and I went with Yuito for my playthrough. Scarlet Nexus' game world is quite immersive with its futuristic cities, augmented reality overlays, and striking monster designs. Specifically, the Others are imaginatively crafted and often feature twisted real-world body parts such as flower pots and cuckoo clocks. As you progress, you'll meet many friendly and sinister characters and there are some incredible plot twists thrown in to keep you guessing. You see; this futuristic world is based on technology around the human brain so you'll often wonder if what you're witnessing is actually real or not. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but it certainly kept me intrigued throughout.
With all of that being said, the cast of characters within Scarlet Nexus' truly mesmerizing world aren't all that memorable as nearly every character has a stereotypical cardboard cut-out personality. As a fan of Japanese RPGs, I prefer when each character is bursting with their own unique charm and eccentricities. Instead, there's a bunch of military folks; some of which have go-getter attitudes and some are more reserved. On the plus side, I absolutely loved the soundtrack which is very arcade-like as it makes combat even more enjoyable.
Speaking of combat, Scarlet Nexus cleverly combines melee weapon-based fighting with psychokinetic powers that allow you to levitate objects and slam them into your foes. Needless to say, doing so is a ton of fun, especially when you break off opponents' shields and throw specialized objects that cause massive damage and feature little quick-time events. The actual melee combat is standard stuff where you attack and dodge while recharging your power gauge so you can smash more objects into your foes.
To make combat even more engaging, there are many mechanics that slowly get introduced as you play. The most substantial of which is the SAS system which allows you to incorporate your allies' special abilities. For example, Clairvoyance can allow you to see through smoke, Pyrokinesis will add fire to your attacks, and Sclerokinesis will even make you temporarily invincible. My favourite one is probably Invisibility as it allows you to sneak up behind Others to stealthily kill them. Oh, and that reminds me; you can also use your environment to defeat enemies from time to time such as controlling a bus to run over mutants and that's a great deal of fun.
There are more mechanics in place such as enemies' crush gauges that allow you to perform a powerful Brain Crush once depleted. You also have a Brain Drive gauge that makes you more powerful once it fills but unfortunately, it automatically deploys so you can't save it for later. A similar system is Brain Field although it's risky as you can get a game over if you use it too much because it corrupts your brain. I must say that even though there are all of these elements, I didn't have much of a need for strategy because as long as you deploy appropriate attacks and moves and stay mildly diligent, combat will be quite easy and it therefore loses its edge after a while.
Between combat segments, you can enhance your character in some interesting ways. Aside from levelling up and equipping better gear, you also have a node-based Brain Map that allows you to spend points in order to unlock stat boosts, combat moves, and plenty of other enhancements. Meanwhile, equipment can be purchased as well as created by trading valuable materials at a shop and there are loads of appearance-altering accessories to unlock as well. I'm happy that character growth is both rewarding and personalized.
Considering you fight alongside a few allies, you're able to change their equipment as well as give them gifts which can do things like unlock more Plug-in slots so they can equip additional stat-boosting items. You can also bond with them which not only fleshes out the characters a bit; it can also level-up their SAS capabilities which alone may give you the edge in battle. In addition to all of that, NPCs around the sprawling city will offer quests that you can take on and complete for extra items. There's always a lot to do! 😊
Finally, with everything that Scarlet Nexus has to offer in mind, I found that it could have used much more to help keep its gameplay more interesting. All you essentially do is run around maps while fighting enemies so there could have definitely been added variety. For example, instead of just running around, why not have fun traversal options like grind rails, vehicles, or even roller skates? As it is, there are no puzzles to solve so merely running on foot to your next fight ends up feeling hollow and uninteresting.
Scarlet Nexus is an intriguing new IP that definitely shows promise for a potential sequel so if you enjoy anime-infused action RPGs then you likely won't regret slaying the many gnarly mutants within its unique futuristic game world.
- + Action-intense combat with many nifty mechanics to keep in mind
- + Imaginative monsters and cool soundtrack
- + Rewarding character growth and quests
- - Combat may be fun but its overall shallow sense of strategy makes it wear thin
- - Characters lack stand-out personalities
- - Could use more to change-up the gameplay