From the creators of Resogun comes Housemarque’s latest twin stick shooter. I absolutely loved Resogun for its high intensity, stunning visuals, and unique take on the arcade genre. So when I started up Nex Machina, my excitement and expectations were pretty high. Thankfully, Nex Machina continues the benchmark set by Resogun.
You play as a generic soldier who simply wants to shoot all the aliens on the screen. As an arcade game it doesn’t need a story or fully-fleshed out characters. All it needs is frantic action and fun gameplay, and Nex Machina delivers this in spades.
Nex Machina plays out in a kind of wave mode where enemies will keep pouring out and charging at you. To survive you basically have to keep moving while constantly shooting at the enemies. To give you relief, there are upgrades scattered about each map.
You’ll find shields, weapon upgrades (like scatter shots, longer reach, etc) and even the more powerful abilities like bombs and laser beams. Once you’ve cleared out the map, you’ll be taken straight to the next map to start again. Within each world there are 15 stages, and there are 5 worlds in total. At the end of each world, you’ll fight that world’s boss.
I really enjoyed each and every boss, as they’ll have their own unique attack patterns that you must learn to avoid. During the boss battles, once you’ve dealt enough damage they’ll go through another phase where their attack patterns change, and you’ll be forced to relearn their attacks.
Being an arcade game, it wouldn’t complete without multipliers! The longer you can kill enemies without dying, the higher your multiplier will go, so you achieve a higher score. This adds a lot more to the intensity because you’ll want your score to go as high as possible, if that’s your thing of course.
You’ll also be needing to save humans at the same time if you get the chance. It’s satisfying to save every human in each stage, though it can be difficult when other aliens are trying to kill them. Trying to juggle up your constant movements and shooting, collecting upgrades, and saving humans, you can see just how intense this game can be.
The visuals to this game are pure eye-candy! You’ll see a smorgasbord of colour, lights, and those beautiful particle effects Housemarque is well known for. Whether you’re destroying enemies or the environment, there’ll be pieces flying galore, and it’s such a treat to watch.
But there was also thought behind some of the visuals, this being the colour and brightness of the enemy attacks. Every beam or laser fired at you are all a bright pink colour, so you can easily distinguish what you need to avoid. There’s already enough to worry about in each stage, so this was a much appreciated design choice from Housemarque.
As pretty as this game is to look at, it’s brutally hard! I’ve already mentioned how intense the game is and how much you need to look out for, but dying is something you’ll do often. Unless you have a shield, you’ll die in just one hit, even on the easiest difficulty.
This can put people off, but at the same time can lure in people who relish the challenge. I’ll admit I lost patience a few times, but still eventually came back to try again.
There are a few modes you can take part in. There’s the Arcade mode which stays true to its name. There’s no saves and you must complete all 5 worlds in one sitting. The Single World mode allows you to take on one world at a time, but is mostly for practicing and mastering each world.
The self-explanatory Local Co-Op mode is for whoever wants to play with friends. Then there’s the Online Arena, which seems to be the mode you’ll be spending most of your time on. Here you’ll earn some kind of gold currency, depending on how you do within each world.
Once you’ve saved enough, you can unlock more worlds, or even different variations of the same worlds. There’s also a ranking system which is something of a badge of honour to show off how far you’ve come.
In terms of replayability, I do wish there was just a bit more to it. Some kind of progress or upgrade system to make your character stronger over time to stand a better chance would have elevated this game and created a whole new level of addictiveness.
Yes you can collect upgrades during each stage, but a XP and levelling up system would have been great. Of course this would make the more traditional arcade gamers unhappy, so I suppose it makes sense Nex Machina doesn’t go the way I suggested.
It would have kept me more motivated to keep playing, but after having a go at all modes, I didn’t feel the urge to keep going.
While this game was extremely well made and fun to play, I’d still pick Resogun over Nex Machina. Resogun was a breath of fresh air and a unique take on the genre. Nex Machina to me feels like another twin-stick shooter but with a Resogun coat of paint.
If you’re into difficult arcade games, and also like chasing high scores and leaderboards, then you will love this game. I still enjoyed it, but it just wasn’t long before I lost motivation to keep going.