Game director Kenji Anabuki invites us into this brainpunk world filled with psychokinetic style and mutated horrors
Led by former members of the acclaimed team behind the 'Tales of' series, Scarlet Nexus is an action-RPG arriving with a futuristic aesthetic, flashy real-time combat, and a high-concept science-fiction story.
Game director Kenji Anabuki tells me that the shift away from a fantasy aesthetic – the kind that helped to define games such as Tales of Vesperia, Abyss, and Symphonia – is something the studio has been considering for a long time now. "We have been thinking of using 'superpowers' as one of the main angles of a game, which we have never used before. In fantasy games we can use 'magic', but to fit into a more futuristic setting we decided to use superpowers," says Anabuki.
Set in a distant and visually vibrant city of New Himuka, Scarlet Nexus will throw you into a futurist Japanese landscape inspired as much by western science fiction as it is classic anime. Oh, and it's also undeniably weird.
"Scarlet Nexus takes place in a world where the power of the brain is very much developed," Anabuki explains. "In our current world, people use their fingers and voices to interact with various technological devices, but in Scarlet Nexus people use their brains to control them.
As a result, those with "acute extra-sensory abilities, known as psionics" are called up to fight by the Other Suppression Force. You'll take on the role of Yuito Sumeragi in this sprawling RPG, a young recruit with a talent for psychokinesis – you know, the ability to hurl objects with the power of his mind.
The development team is leveraging its experience of working on iconic RPGs like Tales of Vesperia, but Anabuki stresses that it's working to create something faster and heavier, a spectacle of otherworldly abilities.
"Both games are RPGs with action elements, which enabled us to use our game development experience on Tales of series into Scarlet Nexus. For instance, it has an impact on the way we envision the battle system, the character development, the progression, and the balance between the story and the gameplay."
As Yuito, you'll be able to turn the world itself into a weapon. Elements of the environment can be lifted up and broken apart, launched at enemies to build attack combos and crowd-control mutant hordes. It's a slick looking system, where everyday objects – telephone poles, postboxes, cars, a moving train – can be wielded with precision and ease, integrated directly into your attack patterns and routines without overwhelming you with inputs or meters.
Anabuki is committed to balancing psychokinesis and conventional weapon attacks so that you'll feel empowered to experiment, playing around with its systems to find new and entertaining ways to take on Scarlet Nexus' variety of enemy types.
"We feel that Scarlet Nexus, as an action RPG, must provide the exhilarating feeling from using weapon / melee attacks," he says. "On top of that, the psychokinetic attacks, when used alongside weapon attacks, will create a very special combination unique to Scarlet Nexus
The studio is particularly focused on that last point; it really does want Scarlet Nexus to look exceptionally cool in action. While it's working to create a weighty real-time combat system, it's also keen to strip unnecessary complexity out of its systems in an effort to maintain spectacle, as Anabuki explains. "In battles, the psychokinesis ability Yuito possesses can be easily controlled by simple button sequences.
Scarlet Nexus has heavily stylized combat within its contained arena spaces. The evocative enemy types come at Yuito fast and furiously, forcing you to consider your opportunities. To survive encounters you'll need to effectively switch between normal weapon attacks with your blade and psychokinesis
Bandai Namco is yet to give Scarlet Nexus a release date, although with the action-RPG in development for PS5, Xbox Series X, PC, PS4, and Xbox One there's still some time to go yet. For now, the creative director is only willing to tease just how Scarlet Nexus will utilise the power of the next-generation consoles.
"Thanks to the high processing powers of the hardware in the next generation, the game will feature high frame-rates, while having very demanding processes related to character representation we wanted to achieve. Moreover, the shortening of loading times will definitely give the player a more immersive game experience than ever before."
Long article/interview, tried to pull the choice bits