Scarlet Nexus Introduces 2021’s Most Complex Characters

Bandai Namco successfully sold Scarlet Nexus as an anime-inspired action RPG with a unique brainpunk world, satisfying hack-and-slash gameplay, and an adorable cast of characters. Even with the focus on the characters, I didn’t realize how complex the casting was at first glance. It wasn’t until I watched the game’s many “bonding episodes” that I really appreciated how each arc truly realized.

Moment of complicity

The Bond episodes, aka the side stories that take place between the main chapters of the game, flesh out the relationships between the characters outside of the plot. These are basically side quests that give players rewards and flesh out each character with additional dialogue. While optional, playing with them is highly recommended as link levels empower team members with unlockable skills.

There is just one problem. Bond episodes aren’t that special – at least, not at first.

hanabi and yuito bond episode 1

Some scenes are just awkward or don’t make a lot of sense. One of my characters once called another to speak and then insulted them outright before leaving in a way that can only be excused in a B-level anime. seemingly unnecessary conversations. At one point in the plot, two teams split into two opposing camps where one of them tries to kill one of the two main characters. But characters from separate teams, even when fighting to kill each other, act like there isn’t a grudge during the bonding episodes. “Sorry my friend tried to kill you, but let’s relax in a cafe together.” Eh?

In short, these cringe-inducing interactions didn’t leave a good first impression. I judged them as a bad attempt to copy social links from Persona or support conversations from Fire Emblem a slightly duplicated trend that has gone awry. However, after a certain point, bond episodes actually start to become Well. The themes of the episodes began to tie together.

yuito activates the gemma sas ability

Yuito and Gemma have one of my most favorite bonding episodes. Their relationship begins with mild attempts to help Gemma feel younger again and deal with her conflicted feelings about retirement. These scenes evolve into a larger story that addresses feelings of loss and grief, then adds some world-building to boot. Gemma discovers that a retired friend was dispatched and shot because he was no longer seen as useful after retirement. In a bittersweet finale, he finds out that he helped his friend find peace before his death and decides to enjoy his own retirement for the two of them.

Bond episodes also differ between Yuito and Kasane for the same characters they interact with, so you get to know them through two different lenses if you play both lanes. After all, the backgrounds and personalities of these protagonists differ enough that they have separate relationships with everyone in the cast. In Kasane and Gemma’s bonding episodes, Gemma addresses the guilt he feels about her sister’s death and her failure as a leader. This is just one example of many satisfying bonding episodes that come after seemingly rehashed shots and an odd pace.

hanabi and yuito in their latest bonding episode

Do not give up

Gifts are also linked to bond episodes. For example, Shiden enjoys photography and lightning, which his bonding episodes address directly with his take on his powers and his admiration for Captain Seto. It makes sense that one of the gifts Kasane could give him would be a photograph of a love at first sight. Meanwhile, Hanabi gladly accepts gifts that aren’t necessarily related to her affair episodes, but nonetheless make her come across as a multi-faceted character. She loves fashion magazines, candles and gym bottles, which implies that she has a range of interests like a real person. More importantly, they don’t strictly adhere to a character archetype.

The care that the developers have taken in creating these characters is finally showing. That makes the few bumpy episodes in the middle almost forgivable. Almost.

Make no mistake: Scarlet Nexus could have done better with his bond episodes. However, he managed to build his characters beyond surface clichés. If you dropped out of the game due to the tedious linkage episodes, this reminds you that you may need to try again. There is a hidden depth that makes her characters shine at the end.

Scarlet Nexus is available for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X / S. It also offers two DLC packs for sale, in case you’re interested in even more bond episodes.

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