You know that feeling you get when you play a game, and you think to yourself, “man this game is noiceeee… “? Well that’s the simplest way to sum up the feeling you get from playing Next Machina. I kid you not I’m writing this review and thinking to myself how good it would be to just stop right here and go play it a little more. Maybe, just maybe I can get my score up a bit higher….
Nex Machina is an epic twin stick shooter that reminds me so much of Geometry Wars, a game that I played the hell out of back when it first released on PC. The game at its core is fast paced, intense fun, arcade style twin stick bullet-hell goodness.
Oh, and before we continue, I feel I should mention now that I have ‘NOTHING’ bad to say about this game. It’s gooood, and I want more of it every waking moment of the day.
Nex Machina is developed by the Finnish video game studio, Housemarque, with the game designer Eugene Jarvis serving as a creative consultant. Jarvis is known for his role in designing arcade shoot ’em ups such as Defender (1981), Robotron: 2084 (1982), and Smash TV (1990). At the 2014 D.I.C.E. Awards, Housemarque’s founders Ilari Kuittinen and Harri Tikkanen met with Jarvis and asked him if he would be interested in collaborating on a game. Jarvis’ games, particularly Defender, were a source of inspiration for Housemarque’s 2013 game Resogun. For the design of Nex Machina, they combined elements from Jarvis’ previous shoot ’em ups and Resogun. The development team experimented with different setups for the game’s firing mechanics. They followed a different design philosophy than their 2016 game Alienation by choosing not to incorporate character progression systems in Nex Machina.
Bla Bla, insert shameless wiki, Bla Bla Bla…. So where the guns at? HAHAHA…
The game doesn’t have a story, plot or any real contextual drive in the modern sense. What it has is good old fashion bravado, lots of it. And don’t be fooled by its modern looking 3D character models and environments, this game is classic twin stick shooting at it’s best. My first time with the game I selected the Arcade mode, and prepared my mind for whatever basic storyline that they were gonna toss at me to try and justify the gameplay… there was none of that. I hit Arcade, the stage loaded with my character riding a tron-like light cycle till it crashed in a small clearing, then I was immediately rushed by a horde of enemies. For a moment I was stunned, unsure of what I was expected to do, then my gamer instincts kicked in. My left thumb started guiding my character away from the incoming horde, while good ole righty started offering up some SUPPRESSING FIRE!
After clearing the first wave of the horde in front of me, I proceeded towards their point of origin, pressing at the enemy as I attempted to get a grasp of my surroundings. This all happened in under a minute, less that 30, maybe 20 seconds. At that moment I could feel the adrenaline pumping to my brain. The game didn’t need to hold my hand, or teach me anything. It gave me tools, and like a caveman with a club, I just knew what needed to be done. Clear the area and keep moving.
As you progress through the game you will be able to save random humans, as well as collect powerups, and defeat a boss at the end of each world. The powerups include shields, triple dash, a rocket launcher, Lasers, charged shots, smart bombs, and some other cool gadgets. Some of these can be stacked on each other like the spread shot and the laser, while others will replace another powerup occupying their assigned slot. Using all these tools you are able to build a multiplier which affects your overall score at the end of each world. This is 100% a score based game, no story, no plot, just your score, a leader board, and bragging rights baby.
The game has four playable modes including Arcade (the main mode), Arena (A mode used to unlock in game credits), Single World (play in one of the 5 worlds), and local Co-op. The game allows you to customize your character with credits earned from scoring high in certain modes, as well as the ability to view replays of other players on the leaderboard, a feature that is very useful if you’re planning on learning how some players got such high scores.
This game is just simply epic….
I haven’t found myself enjoying a game simply for its mechanics alone since the release of Hue last year, and I wish there were more like them. Nex Machina reminded me so much of the simpler times, when being able to play a game was mostly reliant on muscle memory tied to trial and error. Which is why I can’t stress enough how much this game begs to be played.
I’m gonna say it right now. Unless a sequel, or spiritual successor to Hue is released between now and November the 21st, this is more likely than not going to be my personal Game Of The Year for 2017, if not it’s definitely making my top 5, and I’ve only spoken about the gameplay so far.
I’m already singing its praises, which is hard not to do when a game not only plays as well as this, but also looks as good as it does. Nex Machina is a very stunning looking game. The stages are vibrant, colors pop, and the particle effects are as beautiful as they are abundant. Hitting enemies, and items in the environment just to see their particles explode into hundreds of other particles is simply satisfying.
The game also shines in the the audio department, featuring a nice assortment of catchy electronic beats that accompany you throughout each of the game’s 5 worlds. This audio mixed in with the sound of your weapons firing, enemies exploding, the announcer and other miscellaneous sound effects lend themselves well to the look of the game. It’s so satisfying to listen to, that I’m playing it in the background while I’m writing this review.
As for it’s performance, the game was well optimized, and ran perfectly on my workstation which uses a 3rd generation i7 3770, 8GB of RAM, and a GTX 1050Ti, running at 1080p. If you get the game and notice occasional screen tearing, but otherwise smooth gameplay, then I suggest enabling the V-sync. The game is also available for the PlayStation 4, and we assume it performs just as well on that platform.
Get this game, get it right this instant and challenge my highscore. If watching or reading this review has not convinced you then you’re very likely a walker (The Walking Dead), or maybe it’s just not for you. If not then get it, get it without a second thought.
The copy of Nex Machina used for this review was provided to us by it’s publisher, Housemarque.