Scarlet Nexus was released last year and was met with fair critical and player reception. The game boasted a fun and nuanced action combat system that relied on using telekinetic abilities with the environment around you. As well as synergizing with your teammates and a stylish god-mode to boot. The combat, as a result, was the best part of the game.
Sadly, the story of the game suffered from this. As everything in the combat had to feel natural in the game’s setting, this made the writing prioritize explaining every little thing over having a condensed, easy-to-follow story. It tries to do so much with so little time. As well as an inconsistent presentation with its cutscenes. All of this I wish I could’ve elaborated further in the review I wrote for the game last year.
As it did have some genuinely good ideas, I’m going to elaborate on them now. Seeing as the game has multiple DLCs and even some free updates that actually enhance the overall experience.
The Two Sides of the Story in Scarlet Nexus
In the aforementioned review above, I only played through the game once as Kasane but only did the opening chapter of Yuito’s story in Scarlet Nexus. I rectified this by completing Yuito’s story and going through all of the character stories to get more of a grasp on the world and its characters. I like the dual-narrative system they have with the two characters. Kasane’s story was more interesting compared to Yuito’s story. But seeing all new areas and events did feel rewarding, but Yutio got the short end of the stick.
However, seeing both sides of the story didn’t change my overall opinion of it being weak. I got all of the contexts, paid attention to the subtext I was equally ignorant on, and still felt like it didn’t have an emotional hook. In Kasane’s story, you get to experience the distant future and witness some grim stuff. While with Yuito, you experience time skips and only get further information on stuff explained by the end of the game for both characters. It feels like a waste of time mostly if you’ve experienced one story before the other.
The game does step it up in the “Bond Episodes” for characters and your team. Where you learn about each character in staggering detail. These I had no problem watching and paying attention to. Each episode is isolated, unique, and adds the emotional hook the story should have.
What the DLC has Added
Everything I’ve elaborated on above is the day one experience. Scarlet Nexus has added multiple DLCs and free updates to this day, including a recent Tales of Arise crossover.
For the DLCs, they added a ton of cosmetics, new weaponry, and Bond Episodes. The weapons feel different as they have passives modify certain stats other than the “attack” damage stat. The cosmetics are hit and miss and the Bond Episodes allow for more upgrades for the combat system.
The free updates added a myriad of stuff to the game, like challenges, and an all-you-can-eat combat simulator. So if you’re over-leveled in the game and want a genuine challenge, you can fight as much as you want. While also completing challenges for different rewards. They even added a transmogrification system for weapons, so if you want to use Alphens fire blade from the crossover and don’t want to reduce the damage output you can.
There’s a lot of love poured into the game past the day one experience that is easily recommendable. But the final DLC for the game did present something very promising for the future.
The Potential of a Sequel
Thanks to an interview from Inverse, where they sat down with the director of Scarlet Nexus Kenji Anabuki. The director broke down a lot of things that they learned from all of the feedback surrounding the game. One keynote is that they envision a “more mature” sequel. Kenji had this to say:
If there is a sequel, I would personally want to utilize the “superpower” theme in areas other than battles. The world and settings of the story could potentially be created to suit an even more mature audience; by exploring themes like the dangers of having or using superpowers.
All of this sounds great to a fan of Scarlet Nexus, like me. But if Kenji aims to make a more mature story, there is something to point out that I think could be very helpful. In the game’s story, you play as teenagers that have telekinetic abilities, killing grotesque designed aliens with a story that is centered around government control and time travel with info detailing that the aliens are former humans that are what they are because of a betrayal of the colony on the moon.
That being said, in the bond episodes for Tsugumi, a character with the physique of a child. She expresses her will for affection as a friend by stating: “I want to water you” like a plant. Pick. A. Lane.
In the final DLC where they went into detail about Karen’s story, they did show a massive shift into more mature writing. But I hope if there is a sequel, there won’t be as much tonal whiplash. Because what they have in the Scarlet Nexus IP is special with huge potential moving forward.
One Last Look at Scarlet Nexus
Scarlet Nexus is a really good game. I gave plenty of praise for the combat but sadly didn’t give a proper look at the story overall. Even though my opinion of it is unchanged until I saw the potential from the Karen DLC. Despite how I feel, I really do want to see the sequel for this game. I want to see Kenji and his development team fully explore the potential this game has. I just hope they get the chance to.