Have you always wondered what a world interconnected by red strings that is regularly attacked by terrifying creatures that are hauntingly animalistic and inanimate at the same time would be like? Well that is a specific and odd question but Scarlet Nexus has brought you the answer.
Two sides of the same string
One thing I have always liked about anime series is they have the power to do some truly weird and unique things. Anime games tend to take the style of anime but not always the substance. Well Scarlet Nexus has bucked that trend by making one truly weird story.
The game has two protagonists Yuito and Kasane. You choose the one to play and you experience the story from their perspective. Their story is tightly woven so the characters interact and are central to each other’s journeys but spend a lot of time away from each other. This means that to get the full story you can play the game twice and see what happened while the other character was away.
The story can travel quickly so there are times you will wonder how a character has changed or wonder what caused something. This actually gives some serious value to a second playthrough. The tough thing is the game is quite long, so my full second playthrough will need to wait for another day.
Don’t let go of the strings
Scarlet Nexus is set in a post apocalyptic world where there is a mysterious Extinction Belt that covers the sky. From this comes the mysterious alien-like creatures called the Others which attack humans to eat their brains. You know, nice light hearted action stuff.
Kasane and Yuito are our two protganists. They have joined the team super powered soldiers called the OSF. This team are the only ones with the ability to fight back against these creatures. These skill types vary from being able to duplicate, go invisible, use lightning attacks, and fling objects with your mind. These soldiers need to protect the last groups of humanity from these attacks.
I don’t want to touch too much on the story because there are a lot of interesting developments and shifts in the story that you should enjoy yourself. Also the vast majority of the story I only experienced from Kasane’s side. Basically though it starts with the new recruits accidentally finding themselves fighting others and then they get thrown into a bigger story they didn’t expect.
Groups of OSF soldiers fracture, other groups of people are discovered, and a heap of interesting story moments unfold. The story can fly so much I had to go back to check the journal a few times.
One thing the game does well is in between chapters you spend some time at a safehouse. Here you get some time for your protagonist to chat to the supporting characters, buy them gifts, and go on little side missions or cutscenes with them. This is useful as it does allow each supporting character to build a personality with your protagonist. That while building their relationship gives them abilities and perks for combat.
String here, string there
Combat is an interesting one. A lot of the time it is a relatively generic hack n slash action game with some cool hooks. The first is you can whittle away at an enemy’s shield and then that opens up a weak spot which you can use the left trigger to do an instant kill attack on. Thanks to the resistance on the Dual Sense controller, this feels so satisfying to land on PS5.
The other major aspect is the use of your team. Depending on who is with you character in that stage of the story, you will have teammates fighting but you can borrow their powers. As you upgrade skills you can use even more at once. This means you can be hitting the enemies with three Kasanes using fire attacks with time slowed down. It can be super OP at times but it is fun as hell.
The other thing I adore is the game’s aesthetic. It‘s a beautiful game in a haunting way. The Others can be absolutely horrifying to think about, when you have vases of flowers with legs in high heels, or Goats with mechanical bodies. The use of living creatures, mixed with inanimate or mechanical objects, is so damn unnerving and creepy. Super creative, but creepy.
Added to this is the use of comic panels at times separated using red strings, with some still objects, some with movements, and then actual cutscenes. This gives the whole game so much flair and with the fully english voice acting I was all in. Scarlet Nexus decided it was going to be stylish, and it frickin ‘is.
A bit strung out
The only problem is the game can get a little repetitive. The combat can be super awesome at times, but there are some levels where you run through fighting the same enemies over and over again. That and some of the environments can get a bit samey. But in the end when I returned to an environment I was a bit gutted. They could have cut some of the dialogue or some of the map sizes and the game would have flowed better. This is what has me wanting to wait a while before the second playthrough.
Despite this, I adored this game. Sure it is a bit long, but the story is weirdly cool. Then there is the creepy yet stylish enemies and combat that is actually fun to play. Scarlet Nexus is a genuine banger of a game that should not be overlooked.