We have some new information for Bandai Namco’s upcoming RPG Scarlet Nexus: gameplay, character creation, story, companions, RPG elements and we will be delving into the development concepts of the game. If you enjoyed Code Vein, the “Tales of” series, and similar titles, you will probably love this game.
Scarlet Nexus Gameplay Preview: More Nier Automata than Code Vein
- Name: Scarlet Nexus
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X
- Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Release Date: Unknown
- Genre: ARPG (JRPG)
What is Scarlet Nexus
Scarlet Nexus is an upcoming RPG developed by the Bandai Namco team. It’s produced by Keita Izuka, who also produced Code Vein, and directed by Kenji Anabuki, famous for his involvement in the “Tales of” series. The game features a very unique art style that will initially baffle many players, but has a rather well-suited world design explanation.
Describing the game as a “Brain Punk Action RPG”, the developer team hopes to distinguish their originality from the “cyberpunk” or “steampunk” genres. Brain refers to a central power and punk to a “rebellious” streak. The two come together to form a vision of 1990’s Japan, where something changed and history as we know it deviated and went its own way.
The World and Setting of Scarlet Nexus
The game is set in a world where, in the 1990’s, humanity discovered psychic connections. This led to completely different technology advancements versus what the real world has. For example, in Scarlet Nexus, you don’t need to control your electronics with your voice – you simply do it with your mind. Therefore, the world of Scarlet Nexus looks like a familiar but different Japan with augmented reality, since all of its inhabitants are part of “Psynet” and connected to the “internet of things”. This extreme connection is observed as “red lines” and these “red strings” are an important factor of the game, one that the Bandai Namco hopes can be observed as a critique on modern day social media.
The developers are seeking to convey a somewhat “retro” feel to the game, much like how the Fallout series evokes the 50s, but have also worked to ensure there is uniformity among characters while still showing their uniqueness. This resolves into a character team that matches the look and feel of the game, making it familiar and cozy while ensuring it is still distinctive.
The Story of Scarlet Nexus
It is about the year 2020, and players will be residing in the fictional country of New Himuka, founded 2000 years ago. In this world where people control their surroundings with their minds, a new and unfathomable enemy has appeared, the “Others”. Represented as the bizarre mixes of organic and inorganic materials, these creatures hunt down people in search of their “brains”, or perhaps the connection that has linked them to all things. The design choice behind these enemies is purposeful, as the developers wanted to find something that would indeed be “scary” and “incomprehensible” in a world were just thinking about something makes it so.
The “Others” are a danger to everyone, but they aren’t an existential threat to humanity. Much like an earthquake or tsunami, they are simply a strange “force of nature” that humans have learned to somewhat predict, and thus can work around to continue to lead normal lives by forming the “Other Suppression Force” – a group of elite soldiers that identify the locations the creatures will spawn and are dispatched to deal with them.
Yuito Sumeragi, the protagonist, is a descendant of the founders of the nation and surprises his family by opting to join the “OSF” rather than following his expected path into politics. The reason behind Sumeragi’s decision is his admiration for the force, who saved him from an encounter with the Others. The protagonist is confirmed to be a fixed male character, who was designed with simplicity in mind so that he may be relatable in a world that introduces a lot of strangeness. His tools are psychokinesis and a sword, which means he can concentrate energy into a sword-shape and use the world around him to further his actions.
Yuito’s journey from joining the 567th class of the OSF will focus on his growth within the force, and his eventual questioning of the benefits of the over-connectivity that humanity enjoys: can you be lonely in a world where everyone is interconnected? The developers promise to apply their techniques from the “Tales of” series to deliver an engaging story arc focused on character development.
The Gameplay of Scarlet Nexus
Scarlet Nexus has fast paced action gameplay based around combos and well-timed use of environmental objects. During enemy encounters, Yuito will alternate between slashing away, stepping back and then ramming an object into the enemy to jump back in and take advantage of the openings. You can also connect to your teammates to create powerful effects, a special connection gained by joining the OSF.
Players will engage enemies with a modern RPG-like UI featuring lock on, that displays enemy levels and health, as well as offering options for healing items and the like. The game has a party system, and your party members will regularly banter in the background as you explore. On this note, the Japanese Voice Acting is superb, as is to be expected from quality anime. The English voice acting is about as would be expected from a dub. Hopefully they’ll have options to mix and match subtitles and voice overs so you can have your favored choice.
The pace and modernized sci-fi UI made me think of Nier Automata, where your UI is simply an augmented reality of the character’s view. The overall structure of the levels are very RPG like, with a map signaling destinations and items to be found along the way, while story related chatter happens over voice comms. The battles themselves are tailored so that the player can feel their character’s progression and growth, allowing players to clearly see that they have improved as the game goes on.
For RPG elements, Scarlet Nexus is showing promise beyond that of what Code Vein delivered. While the builds aspect of Code Vein was superb, other RPG elements like quests were not easily tracked or displayed, making them more of a souls-like take. Scarlet Nexus has full quest menu tracking, not only main but also side quests, and showing itemization and skill options for you and your party. Yuito has his own skills and a “Brain Map” that goes into three distinctive trees; and there are special connection skills for your “teamwork attacks” with your companions.
I was originally excited to learn more about Scarlet Nexus due to the development ties to Code Vein, but when dwelling deeper I have found myself thinking more of Nier Automata. This is by no means a bad thing, as Nier Automata is one of my favorite games. The reason for this new distinction comes mostly from the game’s overall look and feel, as well as the tempo of the combat. The key elements that stood out for me were:
- Set Character. Yuito is male, and purposefully designed. This mean there won’t be character creation.
- Single Player. The game is clearly listed as one player on the developer website.
- Party Interactions. Your party talks over comms as you walk around, much like Pod and The Bunker did in Nier. This also adds dragon age-like side banter which I very much enjoy.
- The UI is futuristic Augmented Reality, and very RPG. This means you’ll have lock-on, health bars, etc, but they’ll feel like the view your character gets, not the view the player gets.
- RPG Questing. The menus had specific categories for quests that tracked the main story and side quest objectives. I like ticking off such tasks and keeping track of what has happened so it’s very welcome
- RPG Skill Trees. The Gift system of Code Vein was amazing fun, but it did feel very free and therefore action-focused. Introducing specific trees for character and party gives the game some extra rpg points.
- Bestiary. The game features a bestiary that shows “Others” design and details, much like Nier Automata did.
- Combat. The combat is faster and more engaged than Code Vein, that was more of a souls-like in this regard. You will be chaining special combos and bringing in elements from your environment and special party powers together, which is a different experience.
- Specs. The game will run full HD but cap at 30FPS on current gen consoles. PC, PS5 and Xbox One X will enjoy 4k at 60FPS, however.
All in all, I am very excited for Scarlet Nexus, and I am very much looking forward for further updates. Whether the game will deliver on its promises of deep and satisfying storytelling and character development remains to be seen, but anyone who played the Tales series will likely know the team leads are very good at it and likely have high expectations.
So, what do you think of the new info? Are you looking forward to the game? Disappointed about Character Creation? Let us know in the comments.
If you enjoyed this preview be sure to check out more in Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars Preview (Turn-Based Strategy) and Last Epoch Patch 0.7.8 Early Access Preview. You should also check out Alaloth Champions Of The Four Kingdoms First Look: Isometric Souls-Like RPG Indie.