Scarlet Nexus, tried the new action from Bandai Namco

Scarlet Nexus, tried the new action from Bandai Namco

Scarlet Nexus

It is almost a sort of automatic defensive mechanism, but when a title with a distinctly anime look appears on the market, there is a tendency to perceive it as a product of a lower category than other video games of the same genre. The nature of all this is probably a trauma, which must be sought in those dark years during which the Japanese gaming industry was unable to adapt to the times, with some of the most significant houses in disarray and a mass of products " made in Japan "with ridiculous production values ​​filling store shelves.

Now, thank goodness, the situation is very different, and the Japanese developers have returned to churning out big games with an enviable constancy ... yet Faced with the choice to abandon the glossy photorealism in favor of a more basic look (and predictably easier to manage for programmers), many players tend to approach certain ads with suspicion.

The fact that the Scarlet Nexus reveal trailers did not create huge landslides is to be linked to the above: at first glance the game seemed the usual jumble of fourth category shonen manga clichés and there didn't seem to be any elements capable of elevating it above the competition. After a test of over three hours, however, we can tell you that these preconceptions have almost completely disappeared and if on the one hand the clichés are actually not lacking, on the other we were positively surprised by many of the characteristics of the new little boy from Bandai Namco.

Psychic or Psychic?

One of the first interesting elements of Scarlet Nexus is the possibility to choose between two protagonists, Yuito or Kasane. Both are two Psychics, new recruits of the ESF, a military force committed to the elimination of monstrous creatures called strangers, who in the world of the title represent a constant threat. The nature of these monstrosities is not explained (or at least, not during the early stages of the campaign), but it is discovered almost immediately that their appearance is linked to an unspecified apocalyptic event which is responsible for the approach of a mysterious " extinction ring ": a kind of alternate dimension from which the White Walkers sometimes manage to reach the real world. Considering their favorite dish is the human brain, clearly, that's not good news.

Curiously, the prologue as the two characters is slightly different. The events faced are very similar for what we played, however the plot changes, and it is quite clear that the choice of one's alter ego does not only affect the gameplay - given that Kasane is a medium distance fighter while Yuito favors the body. a body - but the entire unfolding of events. It will undoubtedly be interesting to see where all this goes ... for the moment the idea of ​​an extremely replayable action base with partially separate campaigns teases us.

An identical element for both storylines, however, is there : Regardless of the choice made at the beginning, in the introductory hours you will be submerged by a sea of ​​supporting actors, partly due to the clear desire of the developers to offer a rather colorful cast, and partly because of the "team structure" of the Bandai game Namco. It is a solution that could have been handled with a little more grace but we understand it, and it must be said that, if initially the plot made us turn up our noses, we changed our mind after a few hours due to the rather inspired narrative background and of the choice not to hold back the twists for too long. It is impossible to assess at the moment how valid the finished game will actually be, yet there seems to be potential here too (on the other hand there are some of the creators of Tales of Vesperia behind the project, and this gives us hope).

Will is power

At the base Scarlet Nexus is an action, as mentioned, and the fulcrum of its system is linked to the nature of the ESF agents: they are all individuals with more or less powerful psychic powers, and for the accuracy of the two protagonists have the gift of telekinesis, closely linked to their skills in battle. The underlying mechanics, however, are extremely accessible, and both Yuito and Kasane have pretty basic streaks, quick dodging, and the ability to use their powers in combination with basic attacks.

It is the latter that is the most interesting fundamental mechanic, because telekinesis allows you to hurl map objects at enemies, but it requires psychic energy to be used, and leads to variable maneuvers based on its use inside a combo. To explain better, if you throw objects at opponents before a combination it is possible to approach with a lightning fast attack with a decent invulnerability, while the use of powers in the middle of the slashes throws an object after a graceful backward dodge , where the energy required to use these abilities is recharged with normal hits.

A combat system on paper incredibly simple to learn, which transforms fights into a sort of dance without any effort, yet things change considerably for the better when you consider the aggressiveness of the enemies, the presence of branches of development, the need to apply specific strategies to the opponents and the considerable number of "supporting actors" we were talking about before ...

Some of the protagonists of Scarlet Nexus. Even the other characters, in fact, can exploit various powers, and in the demo we tested the game literally made us change combinations every quarter of an hour, putting us in front of sections with steady companions so as to allow us to test almost every possibility. When fighting with partners it is not possible to switch from one character to another, mind you (we have no idea if this becomes one as you advance), but you have the chance to activate their abilities anyway and use them in combination with those of Yuito or Kasane to carry out a devastating offensive.

To give some examples, pyrokinetic characters will be able to elementally charge your weapons and inflict fire status on enemies (elemental weaknesses from JRPG are present, so certain choices are more effective than others), others will be able to locate hidden enemies, or make yourself invisible to execute charged executions from behind, or even make yourself immune to damage for a few seconds. The beauty is that your teammates don't just give you single options - by improving your relationships with other ESF agents you can take advantage of other goodies, such as area attacks or alternative special moves, for an overall variety worthy of praise.

The importance of the hub

The relationships between agents, however, do not develop only through the missions of the campaign, although there are some inevitable chapters linked to certain characters as you advance . You will have to cultivate them thanks to a hub, where your alter ego can select which companions to take with him into battle, or whether to complete some secondary and offer gifts to improve relationships. Unfortunately, we have not been able to explore these options particularly in depth during the test, but we believe it will be a central element of the progression, since the bulk of the fun in battle lies in the careful use of the various skills.

As mentioned before , much of this is due to the monsters, the White Walkers: disturbing creatures that are extremely diverse. Basic enemies, of course, perish quite quickly in the face of a shower of normal and telekinesis attacks, but as you advance you quickly find yourself dealing with more difficult monstrosities, usually thought to be countered by a specific power. Some monsters move at great speed and require a few seconds of time control to be properly eliminated, others have attacks that are impossible to dodge normally and therefore require a few moments of invulnerability to avoid taking risks, and so on.

The whole, then, is accompanied by a resistance bar that can be broken with certain attacks by Yuito and Kasane or some interactive special moves in the map, to activate a stun that guarantees a quick execution. In short, as mentioned above, Scarlet Nexus is deceptive, and several factors are quickly added to its seemingly simplistic system that enrich its impact. Even the challenge level is more than worthy, and we have found ourselves repeatedly having to use a few too many heals during boss battles. We suspect the difficulty will not be a walk in the countryside.

The fights of Scarlet Nexus. All surprising then? Not exactly. The game, as mentioned, struck us very positively, and the various hours of history we faced passed without dead moments or boredom, but there are some problems. First of all, if on the one hand the title is stylistically more peculiar and successful than a first impact might lead us to believe, on the other hand its graphic impact is certainly not extraordinary.

We also noticed an almost immediate reuse of certain maps during secondary missions, a problem that could make these activities rather repetitive. Finally, we would have preferred some more elaborate maneuvers among the basic attacks, if only to further refine the valid combat system, but we understand the desire to make everything intuitive even for newbies to action. Overall, however, we closed the demo with a great desire to play again, and that's usually a good sign.

The Scarlet Nexus test erased our rather cold first impressions. Clearly we are not in front of a title with an amazing technical sector, but the gameplay at the base seems solid and full of possibilities, the narrative - initially banal and full of clichés - accelerates after a very short time, and there seem to be enough brilliant ideas in the mix for a surprising action. . Taken to draw conclusions, of course, but now we are really curious to see if this game will be able to express its full potential.


Solid and more elaborate combat system than it may initially seem La fiction seems to have potential despite the clichés Good level of challenge and excellent pace in the early hours DOUBTS Plot and campaign validity yet to be defined Balance of powers and combinations yet to be evaluated Have you noticed any mistakes?

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