There are a lot of mind-bending creatures in Scarlet Nexus, Bandai Namco’s upcoming character action game announced in May. Enormous beetles with pieces of metal scaffolding for legs, and clay masks where their heads should be. Goats and rams with twisting tubing shooting from their bodies. A corset, bursting with flowers where a head should be, propelled on two high-heeled bird legs with a exposed spine tail it uses for whip.
These monsters, known as the Others, helped the game stand out in my mind every time I see more of its drip-feed of trailers. During a virtual preview presentation held by Bandai Namco, the Scarlet Nexus team shared more about their design and motives.
The development team said Scarlet Nexus’ setting, the sprawling city-continent of New Himuka, is designed based on an aesthetic of ‘90s Japan meets some near future technology. But director Kenji Anabuki said the team is “definitely not just making another cyberpunk-inspired world.” They’ve created their own word — “brainpunk” — to describe Scarlet Nexus. The developers also hinted that the game will see protagonist Yuito Sumirage struggle with that always-on, always-inside-your-friend’s-head connectivity.
“In a society where everyone’s brains are always connected, what is loneliness?” Scarlet Nexus’ art director Kouta Ochiai said. “While playing the game, we want players to deeply think of what it means to be alone and what it means to be connected.”
As for the Others, the team found an artist who had never worked in games to create a feeling that mashed up organic and man-made objects.
“By combining the two things that seem to repel each other visually, we were able to effectively express to the players that the Others are kind of incomprehensible creatures,” Ochiai said.
The team shared that the Others rain down on the alternate reality city of New Himuka quite literally, as part of a fog-like “Extinction Belt.” They don’t understand speech, and are driven to consume human’s brains.
Why humanity’s brains are so damn delectable to the Others probably has to do with the crux of Scarlet Nexus’ reality: this alternative timeline has humanity discovering ways to harness our brains in lieu of electronic devices. According to Anabuki, who previously worked on the Tales franchise, humanity’s brains act like their world’s version of smartphones, connecting to various apps or services via PsyNet. (If you couldn’t tell already, this game is very anime.)
PsyNet gives the Others Suppression Force, which protagonist Yuito is a member of, access to a lot psychic abilities for its soldiers. Yuito can combine sword attacks with with telekinetic powers to hurl objects at The Others. The OSF soldiers are also also plugged in to each other through their own psychic network, meaning Yuito can instantly tap in and borrow the abilities of his squadmates in his party. Borrowing those abilities is visually evident by red tubes that appear over a soldier’s back during combat, which is part of the reason behind the name for Scarlet Nexus.
The preview included some gameplay footage from the introductory section of the game, where Yuito layered single-button sword combos with attacks where he chucked construction materials and trucks at the shambling Others, and game menus indicated that using the two techniques together was clutch for increasing damage.
Scarlet Nexus will be a cross-gen game, running at 1090p and 30 frames-per-second on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and 4K and 60fps on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. The game is also coming to PC, though there is no release date for any platform.