Scarlet Nexus Review

Scarlet Nexus
by developer and publisher Bandai Namco EntertainmentSony PlayStation 4 review written by Richard with a purchased copy.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

By this point I'm sure some of you have heard of Scarlet Nexus, whether it be the anime or the game. A story about using mind over matter, quite literally, in order to fend off monsters and protect humanity. Scarlet Nexus released back in the summer of 2021, so if you're seeing it go on sale and wondering if you should pick it up, or just getting back into the scene after things are settling down, here's a review of Scarlet Nexus for PS4.

Scarlet Nexus is a 3D action JRPG set in a world where the Earth is beset by creatures called Others, strange organic/machine hybrid monsters who's goal seems to be the death of animals and humans, with a particular interest in eating their brains. In this world, humanity has developed a weapon against the Others in the form of psychic powers, and created the Other Suppression Force, or OSF, in order to combat the menace. The OSF consists of those showing great promise with their psychic powers, and members are given age suppressing drugs in order to keep them in their prime. The members of the OSF are sent on missions to eliminate Others, and have developed a number of tools to help them do so.

The world setting is pretty interesting, as there are cities with advanced technology using images sent directly to the brain. In fact, there is a big emphasis on what the brain can do, as many of the aspects of city life can only be interacted with neurologically. Add to this the Others which eat human brains, and there is an interesting backdrop. The Others themselves are kind of like mutated animals, which drop out of the extinction belt, a sort of "not-quite-asteroid" belt that encircles the Earth. Others can range in size from roughly human height to towering monstrosities. Scarlet Nexus focuses on a platoon of the OSF and their struggles in this monster infested world.

Upon starting a new game, you get the option of choosing between Yuito, the melee focused character, or Kasane, the psionic focused character. Their stories happen parallel to each other, and you can start a new game plus as the other character after clearing the game, so no worries about missing anything. I'd personally suggest playing as Kasane, as I felt her playstyle, and storyline, were more engaging. Both Yuito and Kasane are new recruits to the OSF, having just had their SAS brain tentacles installed recently. Unfortunately for them, right after their acceptance but before they actually start in their new position, the city is attacked by Others. So begins Yuito and Kasane's journey to uncover conspiracies, destroy Others, and protect the people they care about.

Scarlet Nexus takes place in two teams, one for Yuito and one for Kasane. Before the game really takes off, you sort of have a bit of a trial mode to test out some other character abilities before the teams are split. The game takes place in chapters, where you will go out and perform your story based missions during, and then intermissions between chapters, where you can have bonding episodes with your party members or take on side quests. Interestingly enough, you can still interact through the other character's team through bonding episodes throughout the game. There are a few unique areas you can only access as one team or the other, but most are mutual, although maybe in a different order.

Your intermissions will be where you can bond with your teammates, give them gifts, as well as accept bonus sidequests. Sidequests are a bit of a weird affair, as you can accept them from townsfolk, but you can turn them in as soon as you complete them, from anywhere you want. Sidequests aren't your standard "go here, collect X, defeat Y" type of sidequests either. Maybe one or two are, but the vast majority of sidequests are surprisingly complicated, such as "defeat Y enemy using Z type of move", which is a lot harder than you generally see, and a nice way of getting you more familiar with combat.

Gameplay has a large focus on movement and combat, which will be in a 3D action style as you explore the terrain of the areas you are sent to. Each area will have Others pop up as you roam around, as well as items to pick up, which may come as consumables or "data" which can be used for the equivalent of crafting or to turn in for side quests. You can run, jump, and perform a little dash, two jumps if you purchase an upgrade. If you spot some Others, you will enter combat.

Battle is a very interesting experience, actually. Your team, which consists of two other members you can bring with you, will also help out. While you have your normal attacks and a dodge, each main character also has a special move, a sword spin for Yuito and a backstep with her blades. Both special moves restore a larger portion of the psy gauge. This gauge is a measure of your psionic powers, and decreases with use. Amongst the terrain, there will be both special items as well as miscellaneous items. You can use your psionics to throw the items at your enemies. This is Kasane's main focus, while Yuito has a more physical persuasion.

Enemies can also throw stuff at you, and if you dodge close enough to the projectiles, you can whip them back at the enemies. You also have more tools at your disposal to deal with enemies, such as a sort of overlimit that lasts for a while and improves your abilities, a combo attack where you can summon your allies to attack enemies with you, the ability to use your friends psychic powers, a sort of "synchro mode", and a special field mode. There's a lot to unpack there, so let's start with the basic points first. All your allies have different powers, which you can use for a period of time. You can upgrade this ability later to increase the number you can use at the same time. These abilities can range from Hypervelocity, which increases your speed, or Duplication, which increases the number of items you throw as you throw them. Every power is unique, and each ability granted is also different.

Brain drive is the overlimit mode that increases your stats, and once you get your bond level high enough you can use the summon ability for your teammates. Brain Field is the ability to sort of amp up your overlimit. The area around you gets turned into a weird trippy field, and your move-set is sort of adjusted and stuff. Enemies also have a sort of guard gauge, and if you deplete it you can either instant kill common enemies, or deal heavy damage to bosses. With all of these options, as well as a bunch of items you can use to top your health up and stuff, you have a really wide range of options to choose from. Add into this that you can usually replace your party members at will, and it give a nice variety to your combat experience.

Here is usually where I start to talk about the soundtrack and art direction, but I'd like to take a few moments to talk about some things first. First of all, the dodge mechanic is…a little awkward. It's closer to a dash than a dodge, and while it normally works ok, it can feel really clunky at times. Secondly, I'd like to complain a bit about the difference between Yuito and Kasane. Early game, I'd say Yuito is easy to handle early game, while late and end game I found Kasane a lot easier to use. I'll use the last boss as a reference, but I finished my first run as Kasane at level 63, and the last boss was challenging but not too bad. End of the second run with Yuito, new game plus carrying over levels, ended at level 80, and the last boss was a bit of a struggle even while using better equipment. Personal preference maybe, but I found Kasane's psionics to be a lot stronger and easier to use later in the game. Each character also gets a Brain Map, which is an upgrade grid. You earn points when you level, and different abilities cost different points to acquire.

I do have to say, my absolute favourite part of Scarlet Nexus is the characters. They are all unique with different personalities, except maybe Yuito who is fairly typical anime protagonist, but every group needs at least one of those. All the characters have their own unique powers to match their personalities, even if it may not seem as such at a glance, and throughout the course of the game you really do get to see them come to terms with their flaws, and come out as better people for the experience. I may not like real people, but I certainly liked the party members in Scarlet Nexus a whole lot.

A nice additional tidbit is that any gifts that are given actually get added to your base that you use between missions. Give a character some snacks, and those will appear on a table nearby. There is also an option for exchanging items at the local save points/shops which I found entertaining. It's mostly traditional item crafting, in a sense, but a lot of items are cosmetics that you can slap on your characters, which WILL appear in both cutscenes and battles.

Now we can talk a bit about the art direction and musical choices. First up, the art style. Cut scenes are really interesting, as they are either animated 3D cutscenes, or they are done in a sort of animated comic-book style, which is a more unique way of display. The characters are still displayed as their 3D models, but you get a red frame border, and the view shifts and such, it's just a really nice way of doing things. As I mentioned earlier, cosmetics are also shown in the cutscenes, which is a really nice feature. Enemy designs are really cool, and I thought they did a really good job of both the area designs as well as the enemy designs.

As for the soundtrack, there are some really interesting pieces in there. Any battle themes with the Others usually have this weird clash and distortion style, with a dubstep like back-beat, maybe with a base/drum beat, but there are usually some really discordant vibes. This matches well with the organic/mechanical hybrid nature of the others, and the tracks were pretty catchy. When not in battle, the music tended to either be upbeat and jazzy for more relaxing scenes, tense when preparing for departure on a mission, or exciting and action like if in a battle or something similar is happening.

I have to say, I feel as if Scarlet Nexus got a lot less attention than it should have. While there were some areas where the enemies made me want to rage at something, and occasionally the camera was a struggle to control, I largely had an extremely enjoyable time with Scarlet Nexus. Was it perfect? Definitely not, but it was really fun, and after completing both storylines and getting the platinum trophy, I can honestly say it was a great ride.


Overall, Scarlet Nexus has a lot of aspects to draw you in: an engaging storyline, unique and dynamic characters, a great soundtrack, and a surprisingly in-depth battle system. While sometimes feeling a little clunky during the movement or combat, Scarlet Nexus does a really good job of drawing you into the world.

Score: 8 / 10



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