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What The Critics Are Saying About Scarlet Nexus

The highly anticipated "Scarlet Nexus" describes itself as "brain punk," a newly coined term that refers to the game's psychic abilities and its sci-fi-centered plot. Players choose between Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall, two protagonists with distinct personalities and reasons for joining the Other Suppression Force (OSF), for two different playthroughs of the game. Yuito, the cheerful, optimistic son of a politician and brother of an OSF commanding officer, volunteers to join out of admiration for the organization. Kasane, the cool, confident ace, ends up in the force after being scouted for her talents.

Similar to its older IP, "Code Vein," Bandai Namco's newest title resembles many other hack-and-slash anime-style RPGs, but with a unique combat system that separates it from the rest. Critics have overall agreed that the mind-bending combat and dual protagonist tale offer a compelling experience for RPG fans. However, the story is cheapened by the game's shallow side quests and dependence on anime tropes to define the characters. Overall, critics seemed to approve of the title, but agreed that its shortcomings prevent it from reaching "game of the year" status.

Here's what critics are saying about "Scarlet Nexus."

Combat system and storytelling are worth it

Both Yuito and Kasane blend blade work with psychokinetic abilities for devastating results. More specifically, Yuito engages in close-range combat with a katana and Kasane stays mid-range with knives. Their psychokinetic abilities allow them to throw cars, dumpsters, and other inanimate objects to chain together creative attack combos. Players also gain access to teammate abilities later in the game. Game Informer praised the cooperative combat that lets players take advantage of pyrokinesis, invisibility, and other superpowers for both assaults and problem-solving sections. 

Choosing between Yuito and Kasane might seem like little more than deciding if you want a male or female avatar, but there's much more to them than that. According to Polygon, each of their stories differ enough that players experience separate events depending on the character they choose. They experience different events, meet different characters, and learn different pieces of information about the world. This fork in the storyline ensures that players can enjoy more than one playthrough without it feeling stale.

Side quests and Bonding events need work

"Scarlet Nexus" isn't without its flaws, especially when it comes to its side content. Compelling combat and twists don't make up for an abundance of fetch quests and emotionally lacking Bonding missions. These particular events are meant to help enrich characters' backstories and dynamics with one another. However, Polygon's review says that the characters in Bonding events behave "like strangers" when compared to more emotionally fulfilling games that incorporate similarly structured side content, like "Persona."

Side quests also tend to fall into the dreaded "fetch mission" category. If not a fetch mission, then it's a similarly simplistic "go here, kill this" type of mission. GamesRadar writes that the game "reduces side activities to a slate of objectives for accruing XP for your protagonist in Scarlet Nexus' leveling system instead of being enjoyable missions for relatable people." Other reviewers seem to echo this sentiment toward side content, with RealSport101 calling out the "trivial stories and meaningless rewards."

"Scarlet Nexus" officially releases on June 25, 2021 on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.