Console Corner: Scarlet Nexus review
The missing brain link?
Fast telekinetic anime style action. We’ve been here before, particularly fans of the likes of Astral Chain, but while Scarlet Nexus feels somewhat familiar it does not disappoint as a result.
SN is an action role-playing game from a third-person perspective where you control either Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall, members of the Other Suppression Force (OSF).
You are tasked with defending New Himuka from creatures known as the Others and while the pair are equipped with short-range weapons like swords, both have the ability of psychokinesis which makes it possible to throw objects and debris at enemies - just one of many nods to Astral Chain.
Your powers increase through accessing a ‘brain map’ which serves as the game's skill tree. And progression brings with it encounters with various party members who assist you in combat and each possessing their own unique abilities which can then be acquired by Yuito or Kasane through the "brain link".
SN is set in the near future and an alternate reality where humanity develops technology and forms society based on the substances found in human brains. The substances also grant humans extrasensory superpowers and the Other Suppression Force recruits members with supernatural abilities to protect humanity from the Others - your mutant foes who have descended from the Extinction Belt.
The first thing to say about how SN plays is that the story is split into chapters set across very different areas with unique characteristics. Some are small but open such as the city of Suoh where you take a more methodical, exploratory approach, talking to non-playable characters and taking on side missions.
Then there are levels jam packed full of combat that lead into a very traditional boss fight. I found this an incredibly satisfying mix which mixed things up to keep the experience constantly interesting. This is a slick, high class action game with drop dead gorgeous anime-aesthetics. The comparisons with Astral Chain are unavoidable but that is not to say SN lacks originality.
It’s not perfect, though, and the assumed variety of having a choice between Yuito and Kasane is something of a falsehood. Yes they take you on different missions with different characters. But generally speaking the characters visit the same locations and traverse the areas in a similar fashion which gives a sense of repetition and grind for those wanting to try out both storylines.
Some of the levels are not as interesting as the anime art style and in places lack personality and depth. The frantic telekinetic combat is a resounding win and comfortably SN’s crowning achievement, though.
Bandai Namco have clearly taken inspiration from other games in the genre and - while there is a feeling that SN could have been even better - produced something with enough originality and intrigue to make this a very worthy addition to your gaming diet this summer.
On: Microsoft Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X