Scarlet Nexus is pretty darn fun, once it’s up and running

A screenshot of Scarlet Nexus

Scarlet Nexus
Picture: Bandai Namco Studios

Every Friday, AV Club Staff members kick off our weekly thread for discussion of game plans and recent game glories, but of course the real action is in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What are you playing this weekend?

I’ll be honest: I approached my opening hours with the new game from Bandai Namco Studios, Scarlet Nexus, with some trepidation. It was, after all, a studio that latest The anime-inspired action RPG was Vein Code, a game I tried to love so much that I ended up taking it as some sort of personal insult when the last bursts of my enthusiasm collapsed into a hail of poorly explained systems and overly repetitive fights. True, Scarlet Nexus was clearly inspired by something more like Square Enix Deny, rather than Vein Codeit’s obvious Dark souls influences – with fast-paced combat and the use of flashy ranged attacks and spells. But still: Once bitten (by anime vampires), as they say, twice shy.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Scarlet Nexus turned out to be, not only significantly better than Code Vein, but a legitimate blast to play, full of charming characters and a combat system that steadily overlaps with rich new mechanics as the player progresses. The few opening hours are a bit slow, admittedly, and its opening gameplay sections are rotating. (There is no reason, for example, for gamers to spend as much time as they do wandering around his generically cyberpunk town Suoh; when the fast travel finally arrives, it can’t come fast enough.) But once I got to the heart of the game, I was thankfully shocked to quickly find myself switching from “Hey, let’s try” to actively wanting to not put it down, slipping into a groove that has seen me blow away the game’s other monstrous ones with a gradually expanding pool of engaging powers.

These powers, or their early absence, are the main reason Link suffers from this aforementioned slow start. Friendship is power in this universe (aw!) And the game takes its time to allow the player to accumulate a full group of teenage sci-fi soldiers who make up their playable roster. (Again, it seems the onus is on the most mopey and hormonal in the nation to save the world.) Once that’s done, however, your chosen protagonist – either standard anime dope Yuito. , or the standard anime standoffish person Kasane – has access to all the special abilities of their teammates, shaped by which the characters decide to accompany you on both paths of the game.

A screenshot of Scarlet Nexus

Throwing Cars: Pretty much always fun.
Picture: Bandai Namco Studios

These powers, like pyrokinesis, clairvoyance, teleportation and more, all combine in engaging ways, letting you create new combos on the fly, and all complemented by your main character’s basic stone-throwing ability. and streetlights like a big- looked at Jean Gray from X Men. (Which is actually a pretty good point of comparison, now that I think about it.) Being able to choose which powers to deploy makes for a surprisingly robust decision matrix: Do I supplement my teleportation strikes with fire? for extra damage, or swapping in clairvoyance to make it easier to dodge enemy attacks? When should I deploy my powerful, slowly recharging damage shield? Should I now go into passive power mode or save my teammate’s power for a sudden burst attack? These are the kind of decisions that a fun fight is made from, and Scarlet Nexus offers them in abundance, finally.

All that, and it features a refreshing lack of some of the more frustrating tropes that can creep in when such an obvious set of anime influences prevail. (That is, it’s depressing to have a cast in a game like this where all The female soldier appears to be wearing a full set of clothes.) Of course, the writing (and especially the team building side quests) has their fair share of romantic drama and obvious crushes, but that can be forgiven. when so little creaks. And while the plot itself is pretty catch-all – don’t trust the government, the kids, especially when they’ve outfitted you as child soldiers with superpowers – it all unfolds quickly enough not to burn out. his welcome. Frankly, Scarlet Nexus gets the biggest compliment I can usually deploy in this space: As soon as I send this column to our editors, I’m going to go back and play about an hour before I go to bed.

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