Gaming

Tales of Arise vs Scarlet Nexus: What to play first?

Animé game showdown!

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It’s been a rather good year for BANDAI Namco and its single-player animé-style games. In mid 2021 they launched the all-new, all-original Scarlet Nexus. A couple of months later, they released the latest in a long-running franchise, Tales of Arise. If you’re on the fence about which one to play first (let’s face it, if you’re a fan of this type of game you likely want to play both), hopefully this will help you decide.

Before everything else, let’s get a few disclaimers out of the way. I’ve yet to fully complete both games. Well, in Scarlet Nexus I’ve finished my first playthrough with Kasane and I’m currently in the very early stages of my Yuito playthrough. Meanwhile in Tales of Arise, I’m about 20+ hours deep and have a 6-member party. I feel like I’ve played enough to give my thoughts on both games.

This exercise is specifically aimed at those who can’t outright buy both games. Also, if you’re a long-time Tales of fan, you’ve likely made your decision already so this may not be for you. Lastly, this is in no way a definitive assessment of either game. I’m just a dude who wants to share his thoughts on two games he enjoyed (enjoys?) playing. And I genuinely can’t decide which one to recommend first, thus, this exercise.

Tales of Arise

Point system

Here’s how we’ll do this. We’ll score each game on the following pillars:

  • Visual presentation
  • Music and soundtrack
  • Combat
  • Story
  • Fun Factor

I’ll discuss my thoughts on both games for each pillar and give a score from 1-10, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Towards the end, we’ll tally scores and highest total wins. Sounds simple enough, yeah?

Let’s dive in!

Visual presentation 

The general art style for both games is very similar. At this point, BANDAI Namco and their partner developers have pretty much mastered cel-shading graphics for the plethora of animé titles under their belt. There are a few differences though.

For instance, both games have this comic-book style cut-scene where the characters exchange dialogue to mostly add to character development. Another cool thing about this style is that it carries over whatever cosmetic equipment your characters have on. It’s a nice cool execution that visual enthusiasts will definitely appreciate.

Scarlet Nexus

While at first glance, they look the same, there’s actually a slight difference. In Scarlet Nexus, the images in the panel are mostly still. Only a handful of scenes are really animated. Meanwhile, in Tales of Arise, the panels are actually animated. There’s minimal but noticeable movement making each panel feel more alive.

Tales of Arise

Next is the overall look and feel of the visuals. I think both games do a good job of showcasing their respective worlds. Scarlet Nexus is this post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk-ish world that feels rather empty, but that’s because of the story and the setting. Tales of Arise, on the other hand, feels more alive and is generally bright and charming like most high fantasy titles.

Tales of Arise

When it comes to the menus, I’m partial to Tales of Arise because there are enough spaces left to let elements on the screen breathe. In contrast, I felt Scarlet Nexus had a really busy-looking menu that can be a lot to take in even after having spent hours on the game.

This design looks busy to me

Verdict: 

  • Tales of Arise — 9 points
  • Scarlet Nexus — 8 points 

I think both games look great and have a definitive visual identity. There are just little factors here and there that, for me, Tales of Arise does better.

Music and soundtrack 

Unlike the visual presentation section, I don’t think I can say as much about the music and soundtrack. Unless it’s extremely good or bad, music and soundtrack is generally something I notice last.

For instance, the sound design in Returnal is something I absolutely gave praises to. Persona 5’s “Last Surprise” still rings in my ear to this day. And of course you have iconic and memorable soundtracks like Utada Hikaru’s “Simple and Clean”, and Faye Wong’s “Eyes on Me.”

Tales of Arise

For me, there’s nothing of this sort on either Scarlet Nexus or Tales of Arise. Don’t get me wrong, I think the soundtrack and music are good. Just nothing immediately memorable.

Scarlet Nexus blasts a variety of genres throughout your playthrough. There’s a mish-mash of electronic, pop, punk, and even EDM (electronic dance music) in there. Meanwhile, Tales of Arise has this more traditional mix of animé pop-rock intro and fantastical soundtrack. Its opening song, in particular, is an absolute banger.

Verdict: 

  • Tales of Arise — 7 points
  • Scarlet Nexus — 7 points 

Evenly matched because they’re good for different reasons but don’t exactly stand out in the greater scheme of things.

Combat 

The combat of both games are fun and have interesting levels of depth in different ways.

In Scarlet Nexus, you play as either of the lead characters Kasane or Yuito in a single campaign. Each one will have a party of characters but they are mostly supporting casts in battle. They attack independently and you can use their unique abilities for a limited one at a time or all at once to aid you in combat.  The level of depth comes in the multiple abilities you can combine to take down enemies and a variety of ways. Most of which are pretty satisfying.

Going to Brain Drive mode in Scarlet Nexus is pretty satisfying

Tales of Arise gives you a little bit more or a variety in a single campaign. All party members are playable and have very distinct fighting styles and abilities. Naturally, you’ll spend more time with leads Alphen and Shionne, but the rest of the crew: Rinwell, Law, BEST GIRL Kisara, and Dohalim offer new dynamics to combat that help keep the gameplay feel fresh.

Tales of Arise

Combat encounters are also a little different. Scarlet Nexus feels more like an actual action-JRPG with how you can jump at an enemy as you’re traversing an area. Meanwhile, in Tales of Arise you encounter an enemy in an area and get transported into somewhat of a battle arena section to go into combat. The controls itself still feel action RPG-like once you’re in combat but the difference is how you get there.

I think Scarlet Nexus offers a little more precision when it comes to combat. From my experience, I feel more in control during fights with who I’m targeting despite the busy screen with everyone in the party fighting.

Maybe it’s because I just haven’t spent as much time with Tales of Arise yet that I haven’t completely figured out every nook and cranny of its combat. Around my 10th to 12th hour playing, the visuals and gameplay still feel like, in the words of Girlfriend Reviews, “diarrhea Christmas lights.” There’s a hefty amount of splash and color going in that it’s easy to get lost in it. That said, the finishing moves here are especially entertaining and never get old despite the repetition.

Tales of Arise

“Diarrhea Christmas Lights”

Verdict: 

  • Tales of Arise — 8 points
  • Scarlet Nexus — 8.5 points 

Both have their strengths but I like having the feeling of a little more control that’s why Scarlet Nexus gets half a point more than Tales of Arise.

Story

Personally, this is what makes or breaks a game for me. I put a lot of weight in a game’s story and overall narrative. I don’t look for anything too unpredictable or too out there. Just something that’s engaging and satisfying.

As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t completed the story for both games. With Scarlet Nexus, you have to go through both campaigns to get a full picture and I haven’t done that yet. Meanwhile in Tales of Arise, I’ve only just completed the 6-member party.

So far, I’m enjoying both for different reasons. Scarlet Nexus gives a “Yo, what the hell is happening right now” vibes. It’s filled with twists and mysteries and a pretty way out there revelation despite its setting.

Tales of Arise tackles a heavy topic of what it feels like to actually be free and so far, in my gameplay, has seemed like a more traditional and linear story. It can get predictable especially if you’ve consumed plenty of stories like I have but it’s still exciting nonetheless.

Tales of Arise

To give you a better overview idea, I asked Chris Garcia of One More Game to describe the story. Here’s what he said:

“Tales of Arise is bolstered by a strong cast of characters that undergo a journey of realization that sees the typical JRPG narrative formula with stakes that get grander at every arc.”

Meanwhile, our very own Gab Orlina describes the story of Scarlet Nexus as “Twisting and turning, but not overwhelming. [You’re] in search of the truth about stopping a world-ending event that shapes the future of the nation.”

Verdict: 

  • Tales of Arise — 7 points
  • Scarlet Nexus — 8 points 

I really had to pause and grit my teeth over this one. I’m personally enjoying Tales of Arise more but that may just be recency bias since it’s what I’m currently playing. But looking back, there are more “WTF” moments in Scarlet Nexus that’s why I gave it a slight edge.

Fun factor

While this whole thing has been an exercise of subjectivity, it doesn’t get any more subjective than this. What each of us consider fun is different. So, I’m just gonna hang my hat on that as I point out what I really thought was fun for both games.

I really enjoyed the combat and the WTF moments in Scarlet Nexus. If anything’s gonna want you to keep playing, it’s wanting to find out exactly why the world is the way it is. And the revelations get really outrageous but with still missing story threads with just one playthrough. This makes going through the second campaign with a different character enticing because you want to be able to paint a full picture of what happened.

This was a heartbreaking scene.

However, getting through the story sometimes felt like a chore because of how you move around areas. Honest Game Trailers described it as like going through one long hallway and it was so on point. Some parts of the game, while they aren’t bad, just didn’t feel as polished.

When it comes to Tales of Arise, I’m all the way in. There isn’t a story beat so far that I haven’t been able to predict. Despite that, it remains enjoyable every step of the way. And I’ve always really liked this kind of high fantasy setting. It also helps that overall, this game just feels more polished than Scarlet Nexus. But I guess that’s what you get with a long-running franchise versus one that just started.

Tales of Arise

This high fantasy look is totally my jam.

Verdict: 

  • Tales of Arise — 9 points
  • Scarlet Nexus — 7 points 

Tally 

Tales of Arise

Scarlet Nexus

Visual presentation

9

8

Music and soundtrack

7

7

Combat

8

8.5

Story

7

8

Fun factor

9

7

Total

40

38.5

There you have it, that’s my completely subjective and unscientific showdown between Tales of Arise and Scarlet Nexus. I think the scores really reflect how I feel about each game as of writing.

Tales of Arise

Nobody asked but this is how I dodge awkward conversations.

There’s plenty of enjoyment to be had on both games, but the overall more polished vibe I get from Tales of Arise makes it my pick if you only had to pick just one to play or which one to play first.

In the end, the decision is yours, but I hope this helped even just a little.

Gaming

Kena: Bridge of Spirits isn’t for everybody

And, that’s fine

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Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure third-person video game. The game is developed and produced by Ember Lab. In the game, you play as Kena. She’s a young spirit guide who uses her magical abilities to help people pass on into the spirit world.

The game is stunning and deep dives into spiritual aspects like emotional entanglement with the physical word after passing away.

In case you don’t have a working pair of eyes

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a gorgeous game. Stunning yet scuffed at times, this game is nothing short of eye-candy. The background details and character design is just *chef’s kiss*. But, big butt (Editor’s Note: Not sure if this is a typo but we’ve decided to keep it as is), by the way, this aesthetic might not be to some people’s liking. Hear me out: this game looks and feels like you’re playing through a Disney Pixar movie. And, honestly, that might not be for everyone.

On the scuffed end of things, you’ll find that some things glitch through objects and terrain. But, to that, I think it adds to its charm. The silliness is often welcome and strangely expected in the whole gaming sense. This isn’t the first scuffed game to come across a gamer’s life and it won’t be the last. I think each game has its improvements and patches to develop and incorporate and the glitches make the whole experience memorable and meme-able.

The crutch everyone won’t shut up about

This game is weirdly forgettable for people who’ve played a lot of third-person action adventures. Why? Well, this isn’t the first of its kind. Kena: Bridge of Spirits takes from many games before it and blends its inspirations together pretty nicely without overcomplicating its mechanics.

I would say though, that this can be what I personally found to be endearing with Kena. It unapologetically makes for a good entry-level action-adventure game for people who might not normally gravitate to games like it. With its beautiful visuals and memorable take on grievances, Kena pulls at sentimental heartstrings without the stupidly complicated skill building of most other action adventures out there.

Don’t hate the game

Nor, the player. The game is simple. That can be refreshing for some players or just boring to some. Which, I’ll say now, to each their own. Most games under the same category are far more convoluted and complex. So, if that’s something you like, this isn’t for you. And that’s totally fine.

Most of the game plays on collecting cute Rot along the way. And, on top of the usual skill building, most rewards you’ll find in hidden spots are either more Rot or hats for them. It doesn’t really require that much mental gymnastics to play this game. You can play to relax and just enjoy the journey. Which, for me, is great! Kena: Bridge of Spirits is the perfect game for when you want to play with family watching. I’m sure it’ll feel like a movie to them.

Is this your GAME Match?

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a game worth trying no matter how familiar you are with video games in the same category. The barrier of entry is super friendly and simplistic so, you won’t need that much video game experience to immerse in the story. Plus, you can customize the game for when you want more of a challenge.

I do have to say though, that this game might fight to keep your interest at times but, it sure can lure you back in. As for me, I was happy to play this game. It was challenging at times and, it might not be the best one on my list. But, it gets honorary points for being simple, gorgeous, and family-friendly.

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Gaming

Call of Duty announces a new anti-cheat system, Ricochet

Will this solve all the rampant cheating in game?

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Picture this: you just finished up a good amount of work for the day and you just wanna play video games. Specifically, you boot up your PC or console and play some good ol’ fashioned Call of Duty: Warzone. All of a sudden, even playing this game isn’t enjoyable because of all the cheaters in your server. It’s not fun, but the developers of Call of Duty have a solution for that with their new anti-cheat system, Ricochet.

Basically, Ricochet will serve as the game’s way of tracking and investigating any and all kinds of cheating activity taking place on the server. Apart from this, the anti-cheat system allows for tighter account security especially when playing on your PC. With a dedicated PC kernel driver, the system will assist users in identifying cheaters and cheating software present in their systems.

In terms of rollout, Ricochet will be available on Call of Duty: Warzone later in the year. Meanwhile, the anti-cheat will make its way to Call of Duty: Vanguard at a much later date.

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Gaming

Nintendo Switch OLED Unboxing and Review

Should you upgrade?

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Michael Josh might have forgotten to pre-order the newest Nintendo Switch OLED, but that doesn’t stop him from lining up to the nearest Nintendo Store in New York.

After hours of waiting and shopping spree, he finally ordered not one, but two on the line!

Other than the classic red and blue Switch, there’s also a new white version available.

But should you upgrade? Or do you just need to keep your existing Nintendo Switch for now?

Head over to our Nintendo Switch OLED Unboxing and Review now!

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