Nex Machina – Review
Follow Genre: Twinstick Shooter
Developer: Housemarque
Publisher: Housemarque
Platform: PC, PS4
Tested on: PC

Nex Machina – Review

Site Score
8.3
Good: Faithful arcade recreation
Bad: Soundtrack may be disruptive at times
User Score
8.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Nex Machina is the newest title from Housemarque. With more than two decades of experience under their belt, and games in a multitude of genres from sports games to point-and-clicks, they’re trying to make the next big hit in twin stick shooters. Feeling confident in their abilities they’re making a documentary mini-series about their work routine from first thought, up until its release late last month. In the series, we follow the highs and lows of the studio, through bugs and builds, thick and thin.

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Story

In keeping the game as close to an arcade title as possible, there is no discernible story in the game. There are no text boxes, no in-game dialogue, no hidden easter eggs telling you about the backstory of the world. And that is, in a sense, the point of the game too, no complicated features like in-depth weapon modding, no long, drawn out stories, no character creation, and the game is better for it. You open up the game, you select your game mode, and you’re shooting baddies. With the arcade feel needs to come that rush of being close to finishing the level, dying, and quickly having to get that quarter in the machine to keep your high score going. By not including any story whatsoever they have faithfully recreated that feel to the point.

Graphics

Nex Machina features a bright, somewhat cartoon like design. There are a lot of bright colors and shapes. This gives the game good contrast between enemies and the background, making it a lot easier to distinguish between bullets and enemies. The game is aiming for a retro-futuristic look from the 70, which you can see coming back in the enemies, bullets and environments too.

The environments are vibrant, with the possibility of some destruction here and there. The enemies are all diverse and interesting, especially the bosses at the end of each level, which range from giant floating skulls to raging robotic apes and more.

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Sound

When playing a twinstick shooter, what you normally expect is very upbeat, high energy music. With Nex Machina this is not the case. The music is slow and light, which makes playing the game a lot less aggravating. It’s a beautiful example of subversion. Because of the softer music you get less angry and annoyed at your deaths and mistakes, and you’re calmer when you play your next life. This not only makes you play better, but also play longer.

The music does seem to drown out the sound of your shots, and the announcer at times though. This makes it so the real visceral feeling of killing an enemy is not there at all times, which may be a problem for some people who want to be able to hear where the enemies are coming from or if they’ve killed them, but who also want to have the music there. For people that don’t mind missing the music, or want to play their own music, there are always two separate audio sliders to be found in the game’s menus.

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Gameplay

Nex Machina plays as a twin stick shooter. Left stick moves, right stick shoots. With twinstick shooters there are always a couple of standard flaws due to the mechanics, one of the big ones is circle strafing. Housemarque has tried to combat this by way of making the maps shaped in non standard ways, but Also in the way how other elements are shown on the map such as bridges, lasers, and walls. Bonus points can be obtained by collecting stranded humans, and killing certain rare enemies that randomly spawn on each level, with each level guaranteeing a certain amount of those rare enemies.

When booting the game you’re greeted with three game modes, in our testing they all play very similar, with a classic arcade mode with never ending levels and boss fights every so often, online arena matches, and a single world mode. The online mode seems to be unclear at the moment, as in our testing we could not get any players to play with us online, and single world mode does still seem to scroll between worlds as in our time with the game it did still switch from forest to snow and lava levels in the normal arcade order.

When you’re on a roll, bonus point multipliers are available, as well as some weapon upgrades and shields. These weapon upgrades range from the special rocket launchers, lasers and bombs, but can also just be more projectiles on your laser based weapon. When you lose a life you’ll lose some or all of the upgrades you’ve acquired, and if you don’t have any upgrades left you’ll lose some of the spread on your weapon. They will drop, and you will be able to pick them up giving you a chance to recover your streak.

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Conclusion

Housemarque went for that classic arcade feel when they were making Nex Machina, and they hit all the right notes. Back when video games were mostly arcades or black and white shapes, games were very limited. That did not stop Housemarque in creating Nex Machina. When playing, it feels the way it should, with the tight controls you want from games in this genre, and no complicated systems to drag you out of the game, and the maps are tough but fair. Do you like the adrenaline of defeating that tough, big pack of enemies? Or are you just looking to relax and fight your way through the maps in a fury of shots? Then Nex Machina is the game for you.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Nex Machina - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Brustenhoven
Brustenhoven


Bryan, Dutch, gamer, metalhead. 24, and been playing games for as long as I can remember. Pokemon gold for life!

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