Scarlet Nexus: Hands-On Preview
Walking into the Bandai Namco office in Sydney, I was confronted by a PC that was roughly the size of a VW Beetle and it had more lights than an 80’s disco. This PC was connected to a monitor that roughly triple the size of my first TV and it seemed its primary duty was to yell at whoever walked into the room “THIS IS FOR GAMES!” As I saw this beast I momentarily forgot the purpose of my visit. Thankfully though, once I sat down and pressed start on the controller, all thoughts of gigantic PC’s and how good they would look in my office disappeared because the game I came to play had my complete and undivided attention. That game was Scarlet Nexus and it surprised the hell out of me.
Kicking things off, I had a choice between a female and male protagonist. Choosing the side of all things blokey (and because I will probably choose the opposite when the game is released) I went with a strapping lad who has just graduated from the local military training school. The purpose of this military? To fight a group of invaders referred to as “The Others.” From there it is a tale of his rise through the ranks, tackling greater mysteries and uncovering conspiracies. It is all wonderfully “anime” for the lack of a better term, so much so there is going to be an actual Anime series released in conjunction with the title.
But the story is not what I want to talk about here. What has my attention in a big way is the fantastic combat. Scarlet Nexus has a unique and engaging combat system that feels like something that Platnium games would have come up with, which, as you all know, is high praise. There are basic heavy and light attacks, as you would expect from a 3rd person action RPG like this, but this is all mixed with a very cool telekinesis (TK) power that really shakes things up. TK can be used to hurl concrete, cars, signposts or just about any object littered around the battle arena at the enemies. The power meter for this move is charged by using basic attacks and they both can be combo’d together for mighty damage. So in an ideal situation, you bash the enemy a few times, followed quickly by smashing in the face with a flying car, with a dash attack soon after to begin charging your TK power once again. It all moves with a wonderful flow and is immensely satisfying to use.
The TK power can also be used for bigger moves in the arena, involving larger items. These moves take longer to activate, leaving the player vulnerable during the charge time, but deal high damage if successful. A pile of metal pipes can become 6 spinning metal pipes of death, a phone booth can be ripped in half and the two pieces smashed into either side of the enemy, a giant pulley attached to a crane can become a pendulum of pain. It pays to be aware of your surroundings and using these massive moves is really quite the treat.
The final piece of the combat puzzle I got to experience was a great ability to pinch a companion’s powers. In this world, all the members of the military have some form of “special” power. Pyrokinesis, clairvoyance, super speed, you know the drill. These different military members tag along for most missions and help out. In my time with the game, I almost always had a companion, which is good news because they are more than just cannon fodder. I could actually pinch their powers for a short period and combine them with their own. So instead of flying cars of death, they became flaming flying cars of death. If an enemy turned invisible, I could pinch the clairvoyance power to locate them. An enemy has a week spot on his back, super speed to the rescue. There has been a lot of balancing done here because every power felt like it served a purpose and didn’t feel out of place.
All of this has come together in such a way that has me surprisingly excited for the release of the game. The crazy anime-inspired look showcased in early trailers put me off initially, but after going hands-on I can confirm my interest levels have risen significantly. There are a host of RPG elements in the game too, though it was hard to see how they affected things in a major way in a three-hour demo, but should it all pan out Scarlet Nexus will be a game that surprises and delights many, especially those longing for a similar experience to something developed by Platnium because while this may not be a Platinum game, it certainly feels like it and in my mind that is pretty high praise.
You can now play the demo of Scarlet Nexus on the Xbox, Playstation and Steam platforms. Head to the appropriate store to download.