Nex Machina Review

Nex Machina

The machines have us by the belt, and there is nothing we can do about. Computers, smartphones, and tablets have changed our lives for the better, but we have abused them, forming a dangerous addiction in plain sight. Machines, seeing humans using themselves for their grandeur and selfishness, have taken advantage of this moment, seizing control of humans. It appears the Earth will belong to the machines and human extinction is all but certain. But, one thing that the machines haven’t calculated on is you. Diving headfirst into cyberspace, you are the hero, a laser-toting combat warrior who comes into the computer system like a bat-out-of-hell to wage war and save the human race. When the Earth is on the brink of mechanical madness, only you, the hero, will fight with a raging desire and burning aggression to rid the world of mechanized ruin. This is Nex Machina, a twin-stick arcade shooter from the brilliant mind of Eugene Jarvis, developed by Houremarque games. Nex Machina will put players into a digital hellscape, run over by AI’s and machines. There are no reinforcements or support. Only you, or another player, are what stands between humanities salvation and termination. Nex Machina is a golden action experience, ripe for everyone.

Nex Machina is an isometric twin-stick shooter that puts players in the shoes of a video game warrior, hell-bent to save the world from the clutches of the evil machines. As a twin-stick shooter, your job is to move fast and shoot faster, dodging various obstacles and enemy fire headed your way. The machines are cold, calculated, and have unerring accuracy, making your mission an extreme difficulty from the start. The machines will come in various forms, from mechs to turrets, to tanks, and so-on. Along the way, players will need to rescue humans stuck in the crossfire, as well as unlock hidden areas and secrets in an attempt to survive the cybernetic warzone. If players are quick, focused, and know what to expect, they will have a chance to survive. However, it will take patience and skill to make it, especially on higher difficulty settings. Players will battle across several zones, from digital jungles to the depths of outer space. This mission is designed to be undertaken by the very best.

While the market has seen its wide abundance of twin-stick shooters, Nex Machina is very different as the game is a collaboration between the Polish studio, Housemarque, and famous video game designer, Eugene Jarvis. For older gamers, Eugene Jarvis is a history-making designer in the industry, responsible for the creation of classic arcade titles of the Golden Age of video games, such as Berzerk and Robotron 2084. Robotron 2084, in particular, introduced the video game world tot he twin-stick control setup, where the player uses the left stick for movement and the right stick for shooting. This control setup, coupled with a remarkable and memorable presentation, lead to Robotron 2084 not only being one of the biggest arcade titles of all time but a game that fundamentally changed the video game industry. This same controls scheme was adopted into a future classic, SMASH TV, which made it’s way tot he SNES in the early 90’s and leads to a game that created millions of memories. Housemarque has been making arcade games for years, creating stellar titles such as Alien Nation and Super Stardust. Naturally, with these two talents come together, it makes for an action arcade experience unlike any other in video games today.

Nex Machina is challenging. Players will find themselves dying continuously if they are reckless. The enemy comes at all sides and angles, leaving no room for error. Players need to be careful and continuously fire in all directions. Players are not defenseless as they have a reliable blaster mounted to their arm. Additionally, players can dash, leaving them invincible for a few precious moments. Players will discover the ability to acquire upgrades and sub-weapons, which will allow players to gain the upper hand. The longer players stay alive, the more their multiplier builds, giving them a better chance at weapon upgrades. These will allow for longer range, stronger rounds, and more sweeping spread shots to take down groups of enemies. Players will come across secondary weapons at various points in each level, such as a close-range sword, mines, and a laser cannon. Knowing which one to use, especially for the boss fights, is also important for survival. Each level ends in a wildly imaginative boss fight, some taking inspirations from arcade classics as a tip of the hat for the creations that came before them.

Nex Machina is a euphoric, scorching gameplay sensation, with the speed, shooting, and challenge wrapping into a cohesive arcade experience that triumphs and excels. From the moment players begin, they will know that they are the lone video game warrior that refuses to be put down by soulless machines. The lightning-fast shooting and the enemy aggression will keep players constantly on their toes, dodging enemy fire and obstacles. Later in the game, the player will encounter challenges from the levels themselves, ranging from ice to molten lava. Being able to dodge and shoot in rapid succession provides unbelievable player feedback. Further compounding this is a  fantastic electronic soundtrack by composers Ari Pulkkinen, Tuomas Nikkinen & Harry Krueger. this trio has created a symphony of electronic carnage, with a soundtrack that combines, drums, organs, piano, and a heavy dose of synthesizers. Each track is unique for the level and boss fights, emphasizing the player’s emotions and ferocity in combat. It’s a soundtrack unlike anything I’ve ever heard and an experience that cannot be found elsewhere.

Nex Machina is about challenge and replayability. Players are encouraged to play the game on a variety of difficulty settings, searching for secrets and hidden shortcuts. Players will die repeatedly, but each new playthrough invites a new opportunity to learn and master the game. An arena mode, with a series of missions and customizable options, will keep the experience going. Of course, players can play with another player and go through the carnage together as well. While I would have wanted online multiplayer and perhaps some kind of a co-op campaign, what is available for players is exceptional, especially if they are willing to work to master it.

Nex Machina is an exceptional arcade video game. Its presentation is wildly sharp with a pulsing synthwave soundtrack. The gameplay is extraordinarily polished and will keep players coming back for more, especially with another player. Nex Machina is a celebration of everything that arcade games and twin-stick shooters stand for, and I’d encourage everyone with a PlayStation4 not to miss this one.