PC RELEASE: June 20th 2017

In the distant future, the world has been overrun by Death Machines equipped with laser weapons and a mission to eliminate human life. Will you be able to rescue those caught in the crossfire while surviving the onslaught of terror?

Do you miss the good old shoot ‘em up arcade games of the nineties? Don’t worry about going back into the past to re-live those moments, because Housemarque has brought a similar game to the present. Setting off bright blue explosions and dashing through neon pink lasers set on an isometric stage, just how high up on the leader board will your name be?

To begin your climb up the leader board, start up the game. Select your mode of play. Then, choose your desired difficulty level. *Blink* You are now in an alien world, surrounded by menacing, hostile machines. Nex Machina wastes no time in letting the players in on the action, which is representative of their adrenaline-filled game pace. Furthermore, the electronic music in the background matches the setting marvellously and only serves to amplify the intensity of the action.

This game is essentially a twin-stick shooter with elements of bullet-hell; players destroy hostile machines while avoiding neon pink bullets and picking up upgrades along the way. Rinse and repeat. As far as we can tell, there is no in depth story line at all. Players literally pick up the game and get to shooting alien robots immediately. While the simplicity in design may appeal to those who are not interested in the frills, it still surprises us that the game offers no tutorial from the get-go. Even though the genre is fairly old and most gamers are likely to be familiar with the controls, it would still be nice to provide some form of prompts or guidance.

That being said Nex Machina is very PC-friendly, with multiple types of game control schemes available in the options menu: Controller only, Keyboard only and Keyboard + Mouse controls. There, however, is a teeny-weeny problem with the Keyboard + Mouse controls; the mouse cursor shows up as your default Windows cursor. Aside from being awkwardly out of place, the cursor practically becomes invisible when brightly coloured visual effects are appearing all over the screen. Perhaps a customised cursor that stands out from the perpetually persistent fireworks would be helpful.

Unfortunately, while this game is pretty good at recreating an arcade-style game set in a futuristic cyberpunk world, it offers little innovation to the existing genre. Even though there are 6 different secondary weapons and 5 different fixed upgrades that you can pick up, there is little variation available. You will eventually pick up the 5 fixed upgrades and will not be able to increase in power any further. You will also come across all the 6 different secondary weapons fairly quickly and pick a few to stick to.

However, that is not to say that Nex Machina is lacking in depth. The limited arsenal also means that players have to become masters of the mechanics to be able to challenge the highest difficulty level (which is incidentally termed as “Master”). Furthermore, high-score junkies will be delighted to know that there are hidden objectives to be discovered, which can give you an edge in topping the charts.

If you are a fan of the shoot ‘em up genre and would like a nostalgic experience, this game could be worth your time. However, if you are not intending to chase after high-scores, the enjoyment from this game is spectacular like a firework, but so is its longevity.

RATING: 6.5 out of 10

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