Housemarque is a developer who knows their craft, with the release of some incredibly popular twin stick shooters such as “Super Stardust”, “Dead Nation”, “Alien Nation” and the legendary “Resogun” this talented team of developers continue to create challenging, addictive and fun arcade shooters. Their latest game “Nex Machina” is another notch to add to their repertoire of fantastic games and with the support of industry veteran “Eugene Jarvis” as the creative consultant, “Nex Machina” is an absolute beast of a game.
To get straight to the point “Nex Machina” is phenomenal, it’s without a doubt on the same level as Resogun in terms of challenge and quality, it’s a game where you’ll spend hours perfecting your runs and chasing that high score for the number-one spot. In the spirit of Smash TV, you go through small arenas eliminating countless enemies while you save “humans”, uncovering secrets and building your multiplier, all the while trying not to die at break neck speed, while the lower difficulty might seem simple.
The later difficulties might cause an onset of alopecia, as they’re not for the faint of heart. It’s an arm extending a challenge to those who can demonstrate true skill, and if you wonder just how the hell someone got such a high score you can watch a replay of their run, learn from their awesomeness, then put it to practice. Which is an ingenious way to confirm whether scores are genuine, and I welcome this wholeheartedly.
“Nex Machina” has five arcade levels, and each level can be played back to back or independently for high score runs (these levels can also be played with unique challenges that change with each season). As for bosses, each level has its own unique boss. Furthermore, there is a local Co-Op too. In other words, you can buddy up for some fast-paced carnage. What makes “Nex Machina” so special isn’t the quantity of modes or extras but the quality, levels are littered with secrets and extras to help boost your score, it’s down to you the player on how you go about it because you also have to focus on “not dying” and keeping your multipliers high.
So it’s a “risk vs reward” kind of thing. As the secret rooms provide more humans to save but also their own challenges. So it will take a few runs or watching another players replay to eventually perfect your strategy, then it comes down to speed, your aim, and keeping your multiplier and not dying! It’s not all an uphill struggle though, as your progress you collect various power-ups such as triple boost, shields and a variety of secondary weapons that have an unlimited use. It’s also worth noting that leader-boards are shared with PC so you can truly see where you stand.
Gameplay aside, the visuals are gorgeous, especially on the Pro with HDR (playing this on a 4K TV is glorious!). The particle effects fill the screen with color, levels all of their own themes such as Jungle, Ice or fire and they all look great. The neon colours of your character suit also stand out amongst the carnage and can also be changed (including the suit) in the customize menu. There’s so much going on during battle it’s hard to take it all in! The music at a good standard but not to the same standard as some of Resogun’s tracks, I just feel as if they weren’t as iconic or memorable.
I don’t have much to complain about personally when it comes to the negatives other than a bad headache I got (don’t sit close to the TV kids) and really wanting some kind of endless survival mode. I thoroughly enjoyed the novice and experienced skill levels setting some high scores for each. However, it’s the Veteran and above that. So it truly does push you to your limits, I’ll need some practice in the meantime but Nex Machina’s difficulty might be a slight bump in the road because it’s not noob friendly. There’s no hand holding or tutorials, it’s a skill-based game that requires you to be extremely precise and focused, and one mistake can screw up everything. At times, it can lead to outbursts of anger and frustration, but take it from me, keep calm have a break and try again (because the angrier you get, the more you die).
Simply put, this is a game for people who are looking for a classic arcade twin stick shooter. Sure, the days of Robotron and Smash TV might be in the past, but they are not forgotten and to an extent. Because they live on in “Nex Machina”. So there is a thrill to be had here, an adrenaline rush when you have gone through four stages without dying with a score rapidly growing. So when you just seem to dodge nearly every damn thing on-screen (the moment when you just keep your human chain alive for that extra score) it all comes together in a ballet of organised chaos. So I am also hopeful that the game will be supported with more content in the coming months, whether it’s new challenges, levels or a survival mode (“wink”).
“Nex Machina” is one of the finest crafted Twin Stick Shooters to date, while Housemarque are no strangers to these games, they continue to perfect and refine their craft offering gamers with challenges and staggering gameplay. This is a game people would gather around an arcade unit watching a player show his/her stuff. If you’ve heard of Housemarque and enjoyed their games then this should be a no brainer, if your new be warned a challenge awaits you. However, with enough practice who knows where you’ll end up. During the time of review, I took the top spot on a few levels, and I will look forward to seeing who beats those scores. As I will attempt to take that position back!
+ Visually stunning
+ Excellent Twin Stick shooting
– No Survival mode (yet)
– Can be very difficult
– Those thumb sticks will get worn fast
Replay value: 5/5
If I had the money, I’d buy an arcade cabinet of this game. Why? Because I bloody adore it to death. As “Nex Machina” is the must own twin-stick shooter of the year with no doubt. Despite the music, this game deserves a perfect score and your attention because it’s brilliant, well done Housemarque.
Title: Nex Machina
Genre: Arcade Shooter
Resolution: 1080p upscale to 4K on PS Pro
Release date: 20/06/17
Difficulty: Medium to Hard as hell
Spent time: 6 Hours
Average grade internationally: TBA% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: 16+
Price: £16 (it’s currently discounted for PS Plus pre orders only)
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
More by Sharn Daniels: