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

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.

The post Tales of Arise vs Scarlet Nexus: What to play first? appeared first on GadgetMatch.

Tales of Arise vs Scarlet Nexus: What to play first? Tales of Arise vs Scarlet Nexus: What to play first? Reviewed by Telenor Editorial on October 12, 2021 Rating: 5

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