While the Xbox Series X event from back in May might not have set the world on fire, there were plenty of interesting games to talk about, one of them being Scarlet Nexus. Visually, the game might look similar to plenty of other Bandai projects, with big anime eyes, huge swords and so on, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and after seeing the game in action and listening to its developers talk about the game, there’s plenty to be excited about.
Due to the ongoing “Event”, we weren’t able to demo the game ourselves. However, Bandai allowed us access to an exclusive keynote. The presentation consisted of Kenji Anabuki (game director, previously worked on the Tales of series, and other projects), Kouta Ochiai (art director, working on a host of projects in some capacity), and Keita Iizuka (producer, previously worked on Code Vein), and also featured plenty of new gameplay.
The keynote offered some brand new insight into the development of Scarlet Nexus as a whole. The developers revealed that the game had been in development for roughly about 5 years, borne out of the idea of creating an RPG that’s “innovative and fresh”. Instead of trying to become just another Cyberpunk adventure, the developer’s decided on the genre title Brainpunk, as Scarlet Nexus focuses on the brain as one of its main themes.
The other main theme of the game is about feeling connected. According to the devs, the game focuses on connections and bonds between yourself and your partners. Even the titular Scarlet Nexus is a literal connection between yourself and your teammates, allowing you to draw strength from others.
As for the world of Scarlet Nexus, it’s Fallout-esque in its execution, in the sense that it takes a historical setting and plonks it into a technologically advanced future. Here, it’s 90’s Japan, in an alternate reality future where scientists made great discoveries regarding the human brain. That’s where the Brainpunk moniker comes into play. The 90s choice was deliberate, as it allowed the developers to create a world that was still advanced, yet immediately recognisable.
The game itself takes place in a fictional country called New Himuka, which is said to be so big that “overseas doesn’t exist”. In this world, brains are basically your new smartphones, connected to a big network called Psynet. It’s the internet of things gone into overdrive, and honestly, it sounds like a hellscape to me. Imagine it in reality. I’d hate it. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be alone with your own thoughts, you know?
Speaking of being alone, one of the quotes from the developers during the keynote was: “In a society where everyone’s brains are forcibly connected, what is real loneliness?” The developers want players to ponder on questions like what it means to be connected or alone while playing the game, but again, those aren’t necessarily the main themes.
While this technologically advanced society might sound lovely on paper, there’s still threats to deal with in the form of the Others. The Others were described in detail as part of the keynote, and honestly, they might be the most interesting part of the entire game, particularly due to how the developers discussed their influences and comparisons, along with how they’re utilised in-game.
The Others are the game’s main enemies. They’re monstrous creatures who pose a threat to humanity, and won’t rest until they kill you and take your brains. Again, it’s all about brains.. There’s no consciousness there, just the instinct to hunt and kill for brains, so in that way they’re like zombies, except one of them looks like a bouquet of flowers, weirdly enough.
They rain from a fog-like substance in the sky called the Extinction Belt, and the developers likened them to the earthquakes in Japan, like a natural disaster that’s become part of everyday life. The OSF try to use forecasts to predict when Others will fall, but they’ll also send soldiers like Yuito to subdue the monsters. The citizens of New Himuka have sort of come to terms with the Others as it’s become rare that people die from the Others, so they attempt to coexist.
It’s interesting to see real world inspiration for what is essentially giant monsters falling from the sky. I’m not sure about you, but if grotesque monsters from another world started falling from the sky and tried to eat my brains, I’m not sure I’d be able to coexist with them. I’m also not sure I could trust the government to sort it out, but that’s another debate.
Throughout the game, you’ll control Yuito Sumeragi, who joins the OSF to help out after being attacked by an Other when he was a child, forgoing an expected career in politics and bureaucracy. Eventually, Yuito begins to question OSF’s intentions and comes to discover a huge secret, which of course wasn’t divulged to us. They’re not going to spoil the game before there’s even a release date.
As for the gameplay, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Scarlet Nexus was created by PlatinumGames as opposed to Bandai Namco, as this game looks faster and more dynamic than the likes of Code Vein or the Tales of series. There’s plenty of big combos, huge bosses and a decent level of upgradability to play with by the looks of the gameplay demo.
In combat, Yuito uses a sword and psychokinesis to fight the Others, with the developers wanting to create a superpowered experience based on Yuito’s psychokinetic power. Aside from your usual light attack, heavy attack, jump and evade controls, players can hold RT to pick and throw different items found in the landscape at their foes.
Players can easily mix this ability with their core combos. Pressing X/Square after launching an item will allow players to perform a step-in attack, following up for massive damage. Using psychokinesis after performing a combo will allow players to put a little bit of distance between themselves and their enemies.
You’ll be taking on quests with parties of up to three members, and there’ll be plenty of fully explorable locations (there’s a mini-map for a reason, right?). The gameplay footage shows that you can change your party member’s battle tactics, allowing for a more customised party, and you can use BP to upgrade your own skill tree.
The footage shown was representative of Xbox Series X gameplay, with the developers mentioning that the game will run at 30fps on Xbox One and PS4, with full 1080p graphical resolution. For Xbox Series X and PS5, it’ll be 60fps and they’re shooting for 4K, so it sounds like it’ll just be 1080p even for Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. Personally, I hate to think how it’d run on your base hardware. As you’d expect, the PC version will support 4K/60fps, if you have the specs for it.
It’s rare to come away from a gaming event more excited about a game’s world and enemies, but that’s the case with Scarlet Nexus. Perhaps that’s due to the COVID restrictions ensuring that I couldn’t get hands-on with the game, but it’s certainly not a knock on the gameplay either, which looks fast and fun; two things you’d want from an action RPG. Let’s hope Scarlet Nexus lives up to its potential when it finally launches.
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