Scarlet Nexus, a “brain punk” action-RPG about what happens when you let fungi grow unchecked, features a dual storyline. There’s one story, but you play as one of two young soldiers enlisted in the War on Shrooms: Yuito or Kasane. Both have different abilities, and show every plot beat from different perspectives. When you’re getting started, it can be tough to know who to choose, seeing as, y’know, you’re going into the game totally fresh. The following advice should help you decide.
In Scarlet Nexus, which takes places indeterminately far in the future, earth is beset by brain-loving mushroom zombies called Others. Around the same time, some humans developed extrasensory abilities like super-speed, teleportation, and the all-powerful talent of setting shit on fire with your mind. Those superpowered humans established a military agency called the Other Suppression Force (OSF). Both main characters are new recruits, part of the latest class to join up, and share psychokinetic powers. In terms of character, those are the only spots in which the Venn Diagram overlaps.
Yuito Sumeragi is the heir apparent to the country’s founding father. Though he grew up in the lap of luxury, he’s not at all like the kid from your high school who had a finished basement. Rather, he’s eager, idealistic, driven by the burning desire to help those in need. (In other words: Picture your standard-issue Tales protagonist, if you’ve familiar with that particular brand of Bandai Namco JRPGs.) While younger, he was saved from an Other attack by someone bearing the likeness of the other main character, Kasane Randall—something that seems impossible, thanks to a little thing called time. His storyline grapples with that mystery, and is somewhat more concrete than Kasane’s as a result, since it has a tangible question at its center.
Kasane is the adoptive daughter of a family that runs a major weapons manufacturer. She’s probably somewhat like the kid who always hosted pill parties at your high school: Described as cold and calculating, Kasane keeps an airtight lid on her emotions to the point of social awkwardness. I’ll be honest, some of her scenes are very difficult to sit through as a viewer, especially if you, like me, are the type of person who tenses up with secondhand embarrassment at cringe-worthy moments. She’s plagued by recurrent dreams of “red strings,” which initially mean absolutely nothing. If you prefer your mysteries vague and esoteric, start with her story.
That depends on how invested you are in the narrative, but the short answer is “yes.” At first, it might seem like you’re just looking at two sides of the same coin, but really, the two plots are totally different bank notes—in two totally different currencies.
By the third chapter—or “phase,” to use the in-game parlance—rolls around, the plotlines start deviating significantly. You’ll fight bosses in Kasane’s storyline that don’t even show up in Yuito’s. You’ll learn about character motivations in Yuito’s storyline that aren’t even hinted at in Kasane’s. You’ll also only hear the internal dialogue of each lead character while playing that character’s storyline. (No spoilers, but those moments reveal a lot.)
If you want to catch the whole story, you’ll have to play through both storylines. Each one lasts 20 hours or so. (Tack on a bit of extra time if you plan on tracking down every one of the menial, repetitive side-quests.)
Or, y’know, you could just watch the anime adaptation.
The basic combat structure—light attack, heavy attack, dodge, throw vending machine—remains the same for both characters. They have the same fundamental skill tree, too, although it’s structured a bit differently. For instance, Yuito’s can unlock the ability to equip a second accessory, or to rebound from a heavy hit, at the base of his skill tree. On Kasane’s, both of those are at the second tier. (Yuito gets all the good stuff first. Not fair.)
In combat, Yuito uses a sword, while Kasane twirls a hurricane of purple-colored around her like a tornado. It’s way cooler than a boring old sword. It also might be a touch weaker. Over the course of my playthrough(s), I’ve found that Yuito hits harder and recovers his psionic powers faster, meaning that he’s a bit easier to play as. My death tally so far stands as irrefutable evidence: I’ve died just twice as Yuito. (For the sake of my dignity, I’ll keep my Kasane death count close to the chest.) Curiously, in my dual-playthrough, Yuito has consistently been about four levels behind Kasane the whole time.
Anyway, if you’re looking for an easier game, start with Yuito.
So, who should you play as? Neither! Both! I’ve been juggling Kasane and Yuito’s plotlines in tandem, playing one phase as one before pivoting to the other. This way, I get to test out both playstyles. I get to see the story unfold all at once, rather than trying to memorize what happened hours of gameplay prior. It kind of feels like playing through a riveting TV show; the cliffhangers at the end of each phase have made me hungry to return.
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a minor pain at first. It can initially seem like you’ll have to close and reopen the game to swap between files. Well—and I wish I figured this out from the start—you don’t. Just open up the options, go to the “Others” (no, not like the enemies) menu, and select “return to title.”
One line of advice: Juggle a bunch of saves. The Small Text Force is strong in this one, and you’ll want backups for when—not if—you overwrite your Yuito save with your Kasane one.