If I say “Shonen Jump”, you’ll either think I’m making up words again like when I asked for shoeggestions on footwear, or you’ll immediately think of the magazine that has been home to some of the biggest anime over the course of multiple decades. You think your big three–One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto–and you follow that up with other legendary series such as My Hero Academia, Black Clover, and Jujutsu Kaisen.
The vast majority of Shonen Jump’s best-selling manga have all followed a simple formula: A chosen kid with powers, thrust into a dangerous world, supported by a colourful cast of pals. Drama! Action! Romance! By the anime gods, that idea simply works no matter how many times I see it, and I’ve got to wonder…
…How come a video game has never managed to pull this off?
Enter Scarlet Nexus, a game which does pull it off. I’ve gone hands-on with the game, and once I’d finished exploring a very chunky amount of content I was left with one main takeaway: This is a very anime game. Let me break the plot down for you.
It’s some undetermined point in the future, and humanity’s entire civilisation has been structured around the idea of a psionic hormone. Technology has been created from the stuff and humans can in turn use incredible psionic abilities thanks to advances in a science so advanced that it might as well be magic. That’s good! Monsters from another realm descending onto our plane of reality and hungering for our brain bits while being highly resistant to the usual forms of attack and defense? That’s not good!
Fortunately, having an army of psychic-powered super-troopers to save the day, means that all is well again.
So what does that mean for you, the player? Well it boils down to you stepping into the boots of one of two characters, Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall. Each protagonist has their own range of skills in terms of physical aptitude, with Yuito being a deadly swordsman and Kasane having an endless supply of throwing knives.
What makes each character especially effective though? Their psychokinetic abilities which turns the battlefield into a deadly weapon for them to use. When the monsters appear, it’s up to players to close in for the kill, weakining these nightmare creatures with melee attacks and finishing them off by absolutely flattening them with whatever is nearby.
For example, you can throw nearby rubble at an Other, or you could step things up a notch by tossing an entire car at them. Using psychokinesis isn’t an instant-win gameplay mechanic though, as there’s an art to it, a sense of timing that has to be observed and pounced on to get it working fluidly. Once you’ve nailed that rhythm though, it’s a fantastic power that flows organically in battle.
With a number of monsters trying to smash you, being able to outwit them and bring structures crushing down on top of them makes for a pretty exhilarating experience. In one of the bigger boss battles that I played through, I could trick a rampaging Other into a corner, daze it, and drop a selection of pipes down on its head while adding a damage boost from one of my comrades for extra attack power.
And that’s something else that needs to be talked about!
As a team, you’ll be able to not only set the behavior of your comrades in battle but also use their abilities to your advantage. Teammates such as Shiden, Arashi, Kagero and Kyoka for example are skilled in Electrokinesis, Hypervelocity, Invisibility and Duplication respectively. Those powers don’t just create buffs for Yuito or Kasane, they can be used to creatively wreak havoc on the battlefield in fascinating tag team combinations.
But beyond that, Scarlet Nexus is a game that wants you to treat your teammates like actual allies and friends. Between missions, there’s a chance for some downtime and bonding that leads to character episodes. Completing one strengthens the bond between the player and their fellow psychically-gifted soldier. leading to new abilities to use in a fight.
And once again, that’s a very anime approach to telling a story. If that’s the approach that Scarlet Nexus is taking, while fleshing out an original story of its own, then it’s being original by not being original. I know, it’s weird but I think it makes sense and I’m definitely down for more of what the game is selling. Which at this point, is the fusion of Devil May Cry and Fire Emblem: Three Houses that I didn’t know I’d been yearning for.
Action, romance, and characters wielding powers that can rip entire cities apart if they’re left unchecked, all visualised by a ton of anime style and attitude. What’s not to love?
Last Updated: May 12, 2021