I’ve been playing Scarlet Nexus — and it’s refreshingly straightforward

scarlet nexus
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Scarlet Nexus is a new JRPG from Bandai Namco and it’s a very good one. In my Scarlet Nexus review, I talked about the engaging combat and the characters, both of which led to many enjoyable hours. As I wound down from the review, I had some time to think back on my time with the game.

I came to the conclusion that part of what I loved about Scarlet Nexus was how straightforward it is. The game tells you how to use its mechanics, introduces its cast of characters, and then tells you a story while letting you beat up some baddies. There’s no turn-based combat to bore you — I realize I might burn at the stake for saying that — and the plot doesn’t require your utmost attention to sift through obscure references.

Many JRPGs get trapped in complexity for complexity’s sake. From gargantuan rosters of characters to obscure references to previous entries in a series, some of these games can be quite overwhelming, especially if you struggle with attention issues. Not to mention that some are needlessly long-winded — I can think of a few that take over 60 hours alone, not to mention sequels.

And for those of you who enjoy these games, more power to you. They certainly have interesting stories to tell, relatable characters, and impressive worldbuilding that rivals a lot of Western fiction. But you cannot deny that many games of this nature are also serious time investments and some are slow burns before the action really picks up.

Scarlet Nexus enthralled me for the entirety of the campaign

Unfortunately, this can turn off a lot of people to this genre. Some players don’t have the time, energy, or willpower to sit through an hours-long prologue before anything starts happening. For example, I had to put down Trails of Cold Steel because after 30 hours, it still really hadn’t gotten going.

Scarlet Nexus, meanwhile, enthralled me for the entirety of the campaign. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, and I was excited for the combat sequences because, unlike many turn-based games, I wasn’t bored by a core part of the game.

Scarlet Nexus doesn’t dance around the bush. It tells you what’s going on and leaves you to power through bad guys to get to the next piece of dialogue. This game shows how a developer can tell a JRPG-quality story without making it convoluted. I love deep lore and rich worlds to immerse myself in, but I know that I have a limit before my brain checks out and I move on.

scarlet nexus

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Scarlet Nexus and Nier Replicant are two recent examples of JRPGs that give you the tools to succeed and then focus on telling a story (partially through the game mechanics themselves). You don’t need to understand the political machinations or delve deep into the history of the world to enjoy what’s going on. There’s enough depth there to keep you interested with some breadcrumbs to help you sort out what’s actually going on. And then the game leaves you to create your own head cannon about events in the past.

We all have our own preferences when it comes to what stories we like. The traditional JRPG as we know it has fervent fans. However, I find it refreshing seeing a game like Scarlet Nexus bring a lot of the genre’s core strengths to a different stage. It’s a fantastic JRPG for long-time fans and for newcomers, and I think many of you out there will enjoy its candid delivery.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.