We have been waiting for Scarlet Nexus for a long time – since the release of the surreal trailer, where mad monsters in heels and with vases instead of heads were parachuted onto a squad of esper fighters. It should have turned out, at least, beautifully, as a maximum, and also interesting. The guys from Bandai Namco usually delight with non-standard ideas. Did it work this time?
The game takes place in an alternative future codenamed “brainpunk” (brainpunk – “brazopunk”, an appropriate name for the setting, which is based on the fact that all or almost all people have some kind of psionic ability). In this world, science has reached the point of unleashing the full potential of the human brain, therefore, almost all children are born with super-capabilities: telekinesis, pyrokinesis, telepathy, and so on.
It would seem that everything is fine, but no. The planet suffers from the raids of aggressive mutant monsters, falling naturally from the sky from the Extinction Belt surrounding the Earth. Most of the territory is abandoned and at the mercy of monsters, the remaining population was evacuated to several large cities equipped with shelters and protective systems – and then mutants periodically break through. To fight the monsters called Others, the OSF (Other Suppression Force) squads were created, which recruit the most talented psionics. Adolescents, because at a young age, abilities are manifested most actively. And so that these units do not have to be renewed every couple of years (because children grow up), young soldiers are fed hormones that slow down aging, so they look sixteen at forty-five.
It is in such a gloomy situation that we find ourselves – as the main character, a brand new OFS cadet. More precisely, one of the cadets to choose from: Yuto Sumeragi, a noble, brave and honest dolt (such a classic jRPG protagonist) and Kasane Randall, silent and always serious, thinking only about the well-being of his beloved sister. They are diametrically opposite in character, even the guys have different weapons: Yuto has a sword, Kasane has throwing knives. But the special ability is the same – a very strong telekinesis, allowing you to throw yourself at enemies even with cars and pavement debris. You can go through the game as both Yuto and Kasane, it is recommended to go through both routes in order to understand the plot completely.
What’s great about the Scarlet Nexus is the fast-paced action game. Oeeeee! Thanks to the aforementioned telekinesis, each battle with a group of enemies (they, of course, do not go alone, except for the bosses) turns into a cheerful “I kicked your house a pipe.”In the subway, we can demolish a couple of train cars and ram a crowd of mutants with them, on the highway, we can jump on a truck, perform a spectacular somersault with it and bring down the transport at full speed on the monsters that interfere with the passage. Magnificent, stunning in every sense, only with us, many, many times! In the meantime, the scale of psionic energy is restored, you can kick the enemy with ordinary weapons, which is no less pleasant.
Of course, Yuto and Kasane do not fight alone – they are run by their squadmates, adding to the battle spirits. By default, they just kick monsters at themselves, acting as a support squad; but by pressing one button, GG and any of the partners can “combine” forces. So we get, depending on the party members, a lot of short-term buffs: super speed, teleportation directly to the enemy, damage by electricity or fire, the ability to see in the fog, invisibility … Of course, all these effects must be monitored, because they expire rather quickly (and, if you have not taken special skills, you cannot activate more than one synchronously), but while they work, it is only for joy to fight.
Special Skills? Yes, we’re talking about Brain Map, the RPG part of Scarlet Nexus. You need to put the points you get after leveling up somewhere! Especially considering that there are directly vital skills, like a double jump (where in an action RPG without a double jump?), Air dodge and an increase in the psionic energy scale. So, as you move further along the storyline, the GG is pumped accordingly, and the battles become (although how much further?) More dynamic and interesting.
In general, it’s fun to run and kill enemies here, it’s no question. If only it all took place in an open world, or at least there was an opportunity to more or less freely alternate locations! (After all, the developers have created many beautiful areas – the starting city, and numerous abandoned construction sites and settlements, and … however, I will not spoil you.) We just move in a straight line, like a first-grader’s ruler, the path, not deviating a single step. Yes, and there are no side quests, and those that are, and it’s a shame to consider quests – “kill two mobs in a jump”, “bring me three items”, they surrender by pressing a button in the task menu, without even reaching the NPC.
But there is Bonding Episodes! Those who played Persona 3-5 already understand what this is about. Relations with fellow party members are swayed by the fairly frequent use of SAS Link (the very “pooling of forces”), and, of course, giving gifts to the shelter. You can give the same gift twenty times and not worry – friends are not picky! Raise Enough – Get an episode that includes a heart-to-heart conversation in a cafe, an outdoor adventure, or something else with your chosen character.Raising the Bond Level provides significant advantages in combat. And some interchangeable suits or costume bonuses, which is also a plus. And the donated things are then displayed in the “house” shelter, turning a faceless bunker with a minimum of furniture into a cozy living room.
(Romances, as in Persona, in Scarlet Nexus, however, were not delivered. Maximum – light flirting.)
What do we get? Spectacular surroundings, good fight, partners. Linearity, well, Amaterasu would be with her, in other games we will look for open-worlds. Everything seems to be perfect, but not quite. The main complaint about the Scarlet Nexus is the plot. You could ignore it (I hate doing this, really), but it doesn’t work.
We are not given the power to run and kick the Lovecraftian-mad animals on the ruins of cities, as in the same Nier Automata. We ran a hundred meters – a cutscene (and not in motion, but static, as in visual novels; dialogue – and pictures), another fifty – another cutscene. Usually I am with all my paws and tail for the plot, the plot in the RPG is the main driving force, but in Scarlet Nexus it is rather the force that wants evil and commits … um, some kind of heresy, to be honest. And along the way, he grabs us, that is, GG, by the scruff of the neck, like a kitten, and drags us through history, not allowing us to come to our senses and look back.
Dialogue choices, even consisting of “yes”, “of course” and “as you say”, are not in the game at all (and this is an RPG! I previously played Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth from the same Bandai Namco, so there are quests a hundred times more, and a million dialogues with elections …) Heroes consist of anime stamps a little more than completely; I saw the character once – I recognized him in full, do not worry, no hidden depths are planned. Thanks to classic anime moves, you can predict who will die in the near future and why in the first five minutes of the game. The writers tried to break away from the story, shoving the maximum number of “these twists” in there, and as a result, they got a mixture of cheesecake with vinaigrette: we are constantly being told “and here’s how! but you didn’t expect! ”, as a result, the player quickly gets tired of a fair amount of illogicality of what is happening. If the plot were limited to the dark confrontation between the psionics of the future and insane mutants on a planet on the brink of death, honestly, it would have turned out to be a much more integral and worthy work. And here, except that the space pirates-unicorns were not added as a bonus.
As a result, we get half an hour of pleasant gameplay – and then a lengthy cutscene with a detailed analysis of “what is happening and why everything is not as it seems.” The player no longer seems to think anything, but he wants coffee and so that everyone finally stops giving lectures on history and lets them beat the monsters.
On the other hand, everything except the plot is on the level in the game.Personally, I also have a purely PC-based complaint: the lack of built-in widescreen and ultra-widescreen support. It is clear that Japanese developers consider wide screens to be heresy and demonic intrigues, and that modders with nexus will sooner or later find a way to cram the game into the necessary resolutions, but how much can you do?