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Decent concept, bad price

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    DarkSymbiote
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    Nex Machina: Death Machine

    Rating: 2.5 – Playable

    Decent concept, bad price

    NOTE: If you are wondering about some of the more harsh criticisms for an small indie title, then scroll down to the bottom for the price of the game.

    Finnish developers Housemarque is known for mediocre to fairly good indie games. Whether you like them or not, you have to admit they do try to diversify their catalog. Nex Machina: Death Machine is yet another twin stick arcade shooter. But is it as complete as Dead Nation, or a sub par fleeting experience?

    Story

    The story is nonexistent. Judging by the gameplay alone there is some sort of alien invasion and humans are being captured. You get a poorly made cutscene at the end of the game leaving room for interpretation.

    Design and Gameplay

    Nex Machina is a twin stick shooter. Meaning the left analog stick moves your character (whoever he is) and the right one shoots at your preferred direction, with an overhead camera. You get a dash feature and you can dash through most threats, and you also have access to a special weapon. Going through each zone you’ll get upgrades dropped by your enemies, and objects, that enhances your firepower, evasion prowess, a shield, and the super weapon. Now, the improvements to your character is immediate and you wouldn’t consider twice before picking them up. That is aside from your special. There are a handful of them, some of them useful and appropriate, and others a mistake. Who would want the close-up sword over the laser? But you can’t wait for the drop to change. More on this later.

    So the way stages work is interesting. The game recommends the Rookie difficulty and pretends that is the default choice. This is completely false since you won’t get the sixth stage if you do decide to take the game on this setting. Veteran is the ideal option. As soon as you being the game you’re thrust in this completely flat surface with some minor obstacles here and there. Then you realize you’re facing off against an alien horde. And you will be facing many, many aliens in each and every area. What you do is kill enough enemies and the game barely gives you a second to breath before you’re whisked away to the next small space. By the looks off it, gravity is entirely artificial as the world feels like a Rubik’s cube. But Nex Machina is focused on arcade style high scores. So you need to find humans to rescue before an alien can get to them. There are multiple hazards; laser beams, undodgeable plasma, ground based energy, etc., and of course, the horde. The only real break you get are with pauses at the end of each boss, some of which are decent but most are unimpressive.

    The gameplay is fast paced almost chaotic but the specific colors differentiate between what’s what. Although this doesn’t always work out properly. The intensity will dazzle you when you’re on a streak and the thrill is something special. There are a total of six stages (make sure to play on Veteran) and are greeted with a score screen at the end of each. Not an ideal way to reward players in this day and age. The advertising claims there are a 100+ levels. But that means variations of each area of each stage. Now, there is a secret final boss nestled within the game. But for that, you have to complete the entirety of Arcade mode on Veteran without using a single continue. That is asking for too much and without question something most players will want to ignore. A single playthrough last about 60 to 90 minutes, depending on skill level. Once you’re done however there is little reason to go back for another run.

    Visulas

    The game uses voxel graphics so expect a multitude amount of cubes scattered about when enemies explode. It’s part of the charm but beyond that it isn’t impressive. Looking at a still image, you’ll wonder what is so special. Unless the game is in motion you won’t find much joy in the visuals, but when you do the feeling is almost out of this world. ‘Dazzling’ might be the correct term to describe this flashy dance. The biggest gripes are that enemy models don’t looks anything impressive and sometimes, bright colors like pink and white have a habit of almost melding with each other. This will lead to your downfall many times.

    Audio

    Unfortunately, aside from the lack of story and length, this is probably the weakest aspect of the game. The heavy bass laden techno definitely sounds appropriate but it isn’t anything worth downloading for a listen outside from the game. Compare this with Furi which had one of the best soundtracks in the current generation.

    Pros:

    - Gameplay can get energetically fervent
    - Vivid visuals
    - Smooth and simple to play

    Cons:

    - Way to short
    - Lack of a driving narrative
    - Lacks content in general

    Final verdict

    Nex Machina: Death Machine is decent, short ride. It isn’t very memorable and is hard to recommend to someone looking for a deep adventure but players can use this to scratch that old arcade itch. That is if you manage to purchase this a very low price. See, the game is audaciously priced $20. That is an outright offensive amount to ask for an undersized title. Get this at a massive discount or ignore it completely.

    Rating: 5.0

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