(Image: Bandai Namco)

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Bandai Namco is known for making great action RPGs based on popular anime, with titles such as Sword Art Online, The Tales of Series and Dragon Ball seeing mainstream success.

A lot of these games already belong to an existing franchise, so it’s been a while since we’ve seen something fresh. But Bandai Namco’s latest offering of anime action comes in the form of Scarlet Nexus.

Scarlet Nexus is a brand new action JRPG from Bandai Namco, that draws inspirations from past games to create a new experience. Scarlet Nexus’ story takes place in a fictional country called New Himuka, where the OSF protects civilians from the Others.

Cutscenes are well crafted and brilliant to watch
(Image: Bandai Namco)

The Others are creatures that fell from the sky as part of a phenomenon and haven’t left. The Other Suppression Force or OSF is an old organization that protects civilians from the Others.

They scout humans with special powers known as “psionics,” to join their ranks. The story features two protagonists Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall who are young cadets in the OSF and have just graduated.

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Their stories follow similar narratives but from different perspectives, focusing on a different cast of characters.

The highly energetic cast of characters are utterly filled with anime tropes, however, they are an entertaining bunch and it's great to see their interactions.

Scarlet Nexus manages to tell a great sci-fi story filled with wild twists and turns, with each character’s story being varied enough to warrant a separate playthrough.

There is a huge cast of characters
(Image: Bandai Namco)

Scarlet Nexus is set in a dystopian world where characters and level designs are based around Bandai Namco’s new take on the CyberPunk genre. This new sci-fi genre ‘Brain Punk’ takes inspiration from neo-punk anime such as Akira and Ghost in the Shell.

Characters and levels are bold and colourful, mixing intricate mechanical details into their design. This style may not be hugely original within anime, but this Brain Punk take has certainly given birth to a well-crafted world that's stunning to look at.

Combat is constantly evolving
(Image: Bandai Namco)

Creatures called The Others have very eerie designs which do their job at unsettling the brazen heroes. There is a bit of repetitiveness of the enemies you can fight in the early stages, but overall variation in design is grand.

The game has cinematic cutscenes that are gorgeous, there just needs to be more of them. Other than the major moments and some special attacks, a lot of the dialogue takes place on nicely drawn pictures.

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As these scenes can be long, it can get boring just staring at pictures when you know the game can do so much more.

The voice acting is enjoyable in both Japanese and English, the actors have done a great job in capturing each character's characteristics.

The music feels right at home within the Brain Punk Genre, from heavy bass dubstep tunes to funky hip-hop beats they always hit the mark.

There is a huge amount of depth in the customisation
(Image: Bandai Namco)

There is a lot of depth to Scarlett Nexus’ gameplay and although the two character playthroughs differ slightly, the gameplay mechanics remain relatively the same. Players will only really have to learn different attacks and abilities.

Most missions will consist of clearing out areas infested with the Others and taking down the boss. Scarlett Nexus main appeal lies within its combat and it’s very in-depth.

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Players will control Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall who differ greatly from one another. Yugito is more of a close-range fighter whilst Kasane is long-range.

They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Each character can perform melee attacks, choosing from a wide range of weapons. They can also use Psychokinesis attacks, which allow them to throw objects at the enemies.

There is a a huge emphasis on character bonding
(Image: Bandai Namco)

Players won’t be able to spam psychokinesis, as its energy bar will deplete over time. One of the main combat strategies will be to mix up melee and psychokinesis together.

The melee attacks will replenish the psychokinesis bar, allowing for more attacks. There are cool special attacks that allow you to use more of the terrain once the psychokinesis bar is full.

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Players main defensive feature will be dodging and if timed right they can execute a perfect dodge.

Another key part of Scarlet Nexus is the Struggle Arms System or SAS. This mechanic allows the main character to use their allies abilities in combat or during levels.

These extra abilities will generally be based on an element, improving your combat strategies and exploration skills.

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Characters can learn skills through the Brainmap system. There's a good balance between combat abilities and passive effects. These can be purchased by Brain Points which are rewarded from missions.

There are many more amazing abilities to unlock such as Brain Drive and Brain Field which really add an extra layer to combat. The real-time combat comes with a steep learning curve, but once players get familiar with the system, it becomes an amazing experience.

The characters look great
(Image: Bandai Namco)

The game does a good job at helping players to learn each and every move. The combat is fun and flashy, enemies do present different strategies but these are easy to overcome.

The boss battles are visual spectacles and where the combat really shines using all elements within each level. A major part of Scarlet Nexus is how it encourages players to learn about each character through Bonding Events.

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These are small skits where the main characters learn about members of their team. These events can also be triggered through the in-game chat service, Brain Message, so don’t leave your allies waiting.

Improving character bonds allows the main characters to borrow more abilities for the SAS to be used in battle. I think it’s a good little system that serves as some nice downtime between missions with great rewards.

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Exploration slightly falls behind, being very linear and restrictive which is such a shame as New Himuka looks great. The game doesn’t really let you explore the world as much as I would’ve wanted.

The side quests become very repetitive and fast, they tend to be fetching specific items or killing a certain amount of enemies. As there is a vast number of characters and locations it would have been nice to have more engaging content outside the main story

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Verdict

Scarlet Nexus is all about its combat which Bandai Namco have crafted very well, the sheer level of depth poured into it is amazing.

The story will please anime fans, but it's not the most original tale, however, the writing during the character interactions is always entertaining and helps players to engage with each character.

Bandai Namco has an excellent new series under their belt that really redefines the genre, especially with its stellar combat mechanics.

Scarlet Nexus is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X and Series S

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