I Tried My Hardest To Make A Telekinesis Joke
HIGH Enjoyable combat.
LOW Fairly generic mission structure and combat scenarios.
WTF This is the Force Unleashed iteration we never got.
Scarlet Nexus feels like something of a miracle in 2021 — A major, triple-A game that also happens to be a brand new IP that shakes up an already, over-saturated genre.
As a third-person, action role-playing title, Scarlet Nexus has players select one of two protagonists — Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall. I chose Randall, a confident member of the Other Suppression Force (OSF). This task force is assigned to stop monstrous creatures known as Others.
The story starts out as standard as military fiction can get. Players are introduced to different members of a platoon, each with their own quirks and respective roles in the squad. Nexus’ anime aesthetic pays homage to science fiction/military series like Neon Genesis Evangelion or Mobile Suit Gundam, though it doesn’t feel as unique or fresh at first. However, as the story moves along, twists and revelations elevate this title from its seemingly-pedestrian beginning.
Themes arise concerning the human cost of war, fighting inhuman enemies, and the anxieties that come from living up to expectations set by predecessors, and all are explored brilliantly. One early example came from an in-game text message exchange between two characters talking about the effects of anti-aging drugs they’re required to take in order to make sure their powers don’t deteriorate their bodies. It’s potent stuff.
Speaking of those powers, Scarlet Nexus boasts enjoyable gameplay. Similar to many character-action titles, players are equipped with weapons like short swords, staffs, and even throwing stars. Combat is fast-paced, with players combining different weapon types as well as heavy/light attacks to frantically destroy the Others. It all looks great in motion and delivers flashy visuals, though I would have appreciated a combo counter to help track my progress the way that many hack-and-slash titles do.
The twist in combat comes via the player character’s telekinetic abilities which allow them to launch environmental objects at enemies. This adds variety to the combat while also adding visual flair. For example, as I was hacking and slashing my way through a group of enemies, I telepathically lifted a truck and slammed it into them. Actions like this keep the combat fresh, and allow for experimentation during each battle.
Either protagonist is joined by squadmates with varying type of powers. One utilizes electricity which allowed me to either enhance my melee or telekinetic attacks. Water-based attacks will cause enemies to slow. Regardless of their type, all supporting squadmate powers are mapped to a face button, making it easy to incorporate them into my own attacks and switch between them on the fly.
Occasionally, the player will have chances to deepen bonds with companions, allowing them to activate other abilities and perks, including things like brand new powers or buffs to their current moveset. While most characters conform to anime clichés in these episodes, I appreciated the dialogues and the respective development. It’s a great way to create interesting world-building while also seeing the fruits of that labor translate to the battlefield.
Scarlet Nexus is one of the most surprising releases of the year for me thanks to a bombastic combat style and storytelling. I enjoyed my time in the OSF and look forward to flinging more big rigs into unsuspecting enemies soon.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Bandai Namco. It is currently available on PS4, PS5, XBO/X/S and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 25 hours were spent in the single-player modes and the game was not completed (still playing). There is no multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated T for Alcohol Reference Blood Mild Language and Violence. The official ESRB description reads as follows: This is an action role-playing game in which players assume the role of one of two recruits from a special forces unit. From a third-person perspective, players traverse futuristic environments, interact with characters, and battle mutant creatures in melee-style combat. Players use swords and special abilities (e.g., psychokinesis, electric strikes) to kill the mutant creatures and other enemies (e.g., robotic creatures, humans). Battles are accompanied by sword slashes, large explosions, and screams of pain. Players can also perform brief finishing attacks, highlighted by close-up camera angles and slow-motion effects. A handful of cutscenes depict additional acts of violence and blood: a woman holding a bloody knife; a man lying in a pool of blood; characters bleeding after getting shot or attacked. During the course of the game, players can gift alcohol (e.g., Rare Vintage Alcohol, Famous Select Alcohol Set) to various party members; when party members are gifted these items, they are put on display on various tables. The words “a*s” and “bastard” are heard in the game.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and on-screen instructions cannot be adjusted but audio is not needed to enjoy this game, thanks to the abundance of visual cues. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Yes, the controls are remappable.