Overall - 70%
Between the nonstop action and the overall aesthetics, Nex Machina is the most video game-like title you'll play this year. The overall design can get somewhat repetitive, and the odds are often not the most fair, but those looking for a challenge have found their latest addiction.
Known for their stylish shooters, Housemarque is turning their attention to the top-down shooting genre with Nex Machina. Should you welcome these evil robot overlords into your life, or is this title more of a malfunction?
Nex Machina Review
It’s you against the world in Nex Machina. Armed with a blaster and a dash, each stage is broken up into different sections with waves of enemies and humans to save. Clear the section without getting hit and you get to fly to the next section to do it all over again. Do it enough times and you’ll face a larger-than-life boss that spews projectiles and bright, colorful skulls.
It is simple stuff, no doubt familiar to fans of shooters like Robotron 2084 and Smash TV. Its twin-stick shooter design makes sense, and the ability to pick up power-ups changes things up a little bit. Some power-ups are clearly more advantageous than others, and can sometimes leave you at a disadvantage. In addition, mechanics like the dash that utilizes i-frames can take some getting used to, as what is deemed safe can be hard to tell. Everything comes as second nature in due time, and the 99 continues that the player is offered on the “Experienced” difficulty setting will be more than enough to see vetted players through this one-hour game.
If anything, it sometimes feels like the gratuitous number of continues was done to make up for the sheer difficulty the game has. Those looking to one credit clear the game have their work cut out for them, especially since the hero of the game dies in one hit (though there is a shield power-up that allows you to take an extra hit). Enemies often spawn almost right next to you, and the placement of these baddies and their fire can oftentimes feel more random than something that was carefully crafted.
Looking for a high score? Apart from not dying/not continuing, there’s a number of things that will help you rise the ranks. Saving humans before they are killed off can net you a bonus, as can destroying all of the beacons, disruptors, and visitors. There are also secret exits and secret humans that can be found to streamline things and add to your score. Your score gets wiped upon each continue, and dying outside of a boss fight forces you to start a section over, so repetition can quickly set in for those less adept at the game. As most sections have a similar look and objective (destroy them all), Nex Machina can sometimes feel like a grind.
The game does offer some bells and whistles for those searching for more. An Arena mode offers challenges, and local co-op is available. Though online play would be ideal, playing with a second person adds greatly to the game. There is also the ability to unlock a brutal “Master” difficulty setting, but one must test their might in order to unlock it.
Between the nonstop action and the overall aesthetics, Nex Machina is the most video game-like title you’ll play this year. The overall design can get somewhat repetitive, and the odds are often not the most fair, but those looking for a challenge have found their latest addiction.