Scarlet Nexus Preview — Enter a Brain Punk Future

With its gorgeous art style and slick combat, Bandai Namco's Scarlet Nexus is one of the coolest looking next-gen games out there.

By David Gill

August 28, 2020

Prior to my preview of Scarlet Nexus, I’ve been excited to see it in action. It was announced during May’s Inside Xbox and it was one of the highlights of the showcase for me. Its world reminded me of last year’s Code Vein but with cool psychokinetic powers to use. After checking out a new hands-off gameplay preview, Scarlet Nexus is still one of my most anticipated games of next year.

Set in the futuristic city of New Himuka, Scarlet Nexus follows Yuito Sumeragi, a new recruit of the city’s Other Suppression Force (OSF) which defends its citizens. To help fight against the Others, the game’s enemies, Yuito and other OSF soldiers use psionics which grants them special abilities. For Yuito, he uses psychokinesis alongside a sword, letting players wield powerful combos against enemies.

In a keynote before the panel, director Kenji Anabuki said Yuito’s family created New Himuka, which means his family is prestigious. While Yuito’s family expected him be a politician or bureaucrat, he decided to join the OSF and defend the city. As a whole, the concept and story of the game are among my favorite things about it. Scarlet Nexus‘ world is described as “Brain Punk,” a mix between technological advancement and the use of psychic abilities.

While I love the game’s design and story, one thing I’m hoping is that the story is well-paced and flows well. Though these aren’t the same, one problem I had with last year’s Code Vein, which I reviewed for DualShockers, is that game’s story would go from a major boss fight or story moment to a flashback where the player walks around the environment as the backstory is told to them. Moments like these appeared throughout the game and slowed down its momentum. We haven’t seen enough of Scarlet Nexus to judge it though, so moments like these may not appear in the story.

Scarlet Nexus‘ world is described as ‘Brain Punk,’ a mix between technological advancement and the use of psychic abilities.”

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The gameplay preview was broken into two parts: one where Yuito is completing the final trial of the OSF’s recruitment test, with the other being him exploring the city and making his way to a boss fight. The footage was captured from the Xbox Series X version of the game and it looks amazing so far. It reminded me of Code Vein’s art style, but in the best way possible.

For the first gameplay portion, we follow Yuito through abandoned roads and parking lots as he completes the final part of the OSF’s recruitment test. His fighting style consists of short-range attacks with his sword, but he can do a mix of fast attacks across several enemies or go one-on-one. There are different button combos such ass hitting the Xbox’s X button three times to make a sword combo to using the A and X buttons to do a Rising Slash Attack. Your health bar appears at the bottom screen alongside a purple PK bar, which shows how much psychokinetic energy you have. With each enemy you hit, your PK bar fills up. During this portion, Yuito mixes in throwing cars at enemies with his psychokinesis powers and attacking with his sword. One move which was shown off is a Step-In Attack, which lets the player do a sword attack after hitting an enemy with a PK object. Additionally, there’s a PK Object Follow-Up Attack which can happen when you hit an enemy with your sword, and you can follow that up by throwing an object using your PK ability. The only downside of this is it can take up a lot of the PK bar.

The second gameplay portion sees Yuito doing a mission called “Trusting the Path to the Future.” In this mission, we see him with Hanabi Ichijo, a female party member who uses pyrokinesis. During this portion, we’re introduced to SAS, which lets you temporarily use your allies’ powers. The SAS abilities appear at the bottom right corner of the screen and you can switch who to use. Seeing Yuito fight alongside another party member is a cool addition and looks to make fights more fun, especially since each party member has different abilities. Unlike Yuito, Hanabi uses a torch as her weapon. When Yuito uses Hanabi’s powers, his sword is on fire, which deals more damage.

“A consistent thing throughout the demo of Scarlet Nexus I noticed is that enemies don’t seem too difficult.”

Before the demo ends, we get a look at a boss fight. It occurred in three waves as you use Yuito’s abilities to pull heavy objects down at the enemy’s back to bring it down. The boss enemy uses a mic between cannon attacks, charging at you, and spin attacks. For this fight, Yuito and Hanabi did a mix between long and short-range attacks. Whenever the boss enemy is knocked down, both characters do close-range attacks.

A consistent thing throughout the demo of Scarlet Nexus I noticed is that enemies don’t seem too difficult. At no time during the first part of the gameplay demo did Yuito get super low on health or close to dying. Enemies might land a few hits here and there, but there wasn’t any moment where battles got chaotic. Even the boss battle didn’t seem too difficult and doesn’t offer a ton of challenge. With the boss battle in particular, it didn’t land many attacks and would mostly run throughout the entire area. Granted, the enemy’s difficulty could change depending on how hard you play it. Regardless, this isn’t something to be too worried about since the game won’t release till next year.

“Between its cool gameplay, art style, and story, Scarlet Nexus is shaping up to be another amazing game from Bandai Namco.”

Besides gameplay, the demo also gave us a look at the in-game menus. There are different menus showing your party members, your items, equipment, the Brain map (which is the game’s upgrade system), SAS, quests, a library, and the general options menu. Based on this demo, you can have two extra party members with you and you can swap them out. The upgrades are broken up into three categories: Expand, Enhance, and Support. Some upgrades you can earn include enabling a charge attack, adding a shockwave to psychokinetic attacks, and having dropped items automatically pulled towards you.

Between its cool gameplay, art style, and story, Scarlet Nexus is shaping up to be another amazing game from Bandai Namco. The use of melee weapons and powers offers up some potential for fun combat that gets better as you earn more upgrades and gain new party members. Even though the demo was running on an Xbox Series X, there’s no doubt it’ll still look amazing on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The biggest takeaway that I had from Scarlet Nexus is that its story and world are so interesting and filled with potential. My main hope with the story is that we get more variety with its locations rather than the same looking city areas. With other upcoming AAA next-gen games like Horizon Forbidden West, Deathloop, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, there’s a lot of exciting things coming within the next year. Scarlet Nexus is up as there as one of my most anticipated next-gen titles and one to look out for.

Scarlet Nexus will be available next year on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.

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