Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Nex Machina
Housemarque has been long known for their excellent arcade-style action games. Their name has been cemented at top of the list of those responsible for creating these types of games thanks to their many successes with the likes of Alienation, Dead Nation, Super Stardust and of course Resogun. On the other hand, there’s Eugene Jarvis, a man renowned for his work on the likes of Defender and Robotron: 2084, some of the oldest and most respected games in the genre. 2017’s Nex Machina is the product of two extraordinary minds colliding, Jarvis’ along with the collective mind of Housemarque, and every pore of it oozes with quality, respect and a great deal of forethought.
Nex Machina, is, much like most of Housemarque’s works, a top down, twin stick shooter. In the case of the majority of their past works you just push through wave after wave on the same map until you’re victorious, in Nex Machina, you tackle shorter waves of enemies in more self-contained levels, and after you’re successful you quickly push onto the next level. Each of these levels is smaller than a typical Housemarque level but have a great deal more variety to them, throwing up constantly evolving threats. After completing the necessary levels your progression is halted by a powerful boss who throws all but the kitchen sink at you.
The action is frantic no matter what level of ability you are, and no matter the difficulty level you’ve selected. There’s often a sea of bright purple lasers flying to all corners of the screen as you duck and weave through them attempting to land some shots yourself. Some of the bosses fights can become quite lengthy encounters as you’ll spend a large portion of time avoiding their fire before finally executing on an opportunity to unleash your own unique brand of pain. That pain can take multiple forms courtesy of a variety of different upgrades and secondary weapons that you collect as you progress. Pickups will see you boost both the spread and range of your standard shots, while your secondary weapons range from a charged shot that takes out all enemies in the line of fire, to swords and energy shots that explode when triggered.
There are many ways to inflict death upon those who previously considered you prey, and knowing how they act is pivotal to any prolonged success. A few consecutive failures will see a loss of both momentum and power-ups so regaining your composure, taking advantage of your opponent’s weaknesses, or even taking advantage of the many secret levels or other hidden perks will assist you in finding your feet once again. You’ll also (as in Resogun) be looking to save a few stranded humans along the way, who all too often find themselves the target of some nasty machines looking to exterminate them; saving each of them will result in a nice score multiplier.
For as beautiful as Nex Machina is, and it truly is a stunning wash of technicolour most of the time, one of the major problems that occur as a result of this is that it’s easy to get lost in all the explosions of vibrant colour. With bullets spraying everywhere, enemies spawning and power-ups dropping left right and centre, it’s quite easy to lose yourself in the crowd, something that typically results in a loss of life.
The core premise possesses enough depth to keep any player engaged but then Nex Machina keeps going. With Humans to save, secret exits to find, beacons, disruptors and visitors to destroy, there’s a continual hill to climb for any player looking to master the game. Even on the lowest difficulty level, there’s incredible challenge to be found in Nex Machina, a game that delivers just as much substance as it does style. Despite the many classic games over their years, Housemarque, with a bit of assistance of an industry legend may just have produced their finest work yet, and one of the finest twin-stick shooters ever created.
Born and bred on the Super Nintendo era, Paul relishes any opportunity to sink his teeth into an RPG, action or platformer. Despite being an owner of all major platforms, Paul does have a particular love of the Playstation family of consoles – take only a few minutes to skim through his Twitter and you’ll see him ranting about the next big thing on PS4. We swear he’s sane.