Nex Machina Is Damn Good Fun

GIF: Kotaku

Over the weekend I picked up Nex Machina, and hot damn is this game good.

There's a good chance the name Housemarque doesn't ring any bells. You might have heard of Resogun, however, and there's a good chance you might have also heard of Robotron and Smash TV.

That's the combination of talent that went into Nex Machina, a top-down coin-op twin stick shooter. Which is really just a neat way of saying you control a dude in a motorcycle helmet who dashes around levels trying to save trapped humans from their robot overlords.

There isn't any real plot; it's just a series of connected levels and you, the player, trying to frantically dodge the sea of bullets coming your way. I could keep explaining things, but it's better seen in action.

The tricks to remember with Nex Machina is that it's not a procedurally generated schmup. The idea is to start out on the lowest difficulty, get used to the layout and some of the attack patterns, where the special weapons are. Along the way you'll learn bits and pieces, like the bonus you can get at the end of each level for dashing at the last second. Or the destructible bits and pieces that reveal secret levels. Or the timing where you capture one human and shoot as many enemies as possible before the combo timer ticks down.

Speaking of the levels, the transitions are great.

Much like the creators' previous games, Nex Machina isn't the sort of game where you'll be playing new levels after 20 or 30 hours. You'll see all of the enemies, attack patterns and weapons within a couple of hours. The replayability lies in ramping up the difficulty, leveraging the brief windows of invulnerability you get through with triple dashing, and finding the most optimal path through the level to maximise your score.

It also helps that the soundtrack is banging, and you can listen to the full OST on YouTube:

You can either playthrough levels individually or in a traditional arcade style, with a total of six lives (plus any you pick up along the way). There's also separate arena challenges with different modifiers. Some are time-based - get the highest score possible in four minutes - whereas others might change up the patterns by increasing spawn rates and bullet speeds.

There's leaderboards for everything, of course, and local co-op if you have a friend. Nex Machina is pretty playable using a mouse and keyboard as well, although you'll get the best experience with a gamepad. It runs like an absolute dream on PC as well, although there's no support for ultrawide resolutions and the game doesn't completely support borderless fullscreen at the time of writing.

But those are minor gripes. The game's a blast. You can pick it up for $US16 ($NZ19.19) on Steam thanks to the Summer Sale. It's on PS4 as well, albeit for a good deal more at $29.95.

WATCH MORE: PC Gaming News


Comments

    I want to buy this but after dozens of hours playing local co-op on Alienation I can't help but feel like making a similar style game without local co-op seems like a mistake.

    That was the first game where I felt Housemarque went from a developer that critics loved to a developer that made a game that was actually fun past the first "wow look at the graphics" impression.

      It does have local co-op.

      I think it might be local only, actually, no online, although I've only been playing the single player so I can't say with absolute certainty because I haven't actually tried it.

        Oh damn how did I miss that? Only two player though. Alienation's 4 player local is so good. Will probably get this now.

          This game is utter chaos with only 1 player. I reckon it would be pretty hard to keep track of what's going on with 2 players, never mind 4!

            And it doesn't have the RPG like progression of Alienation? Weapons dropping that you can permanently equip and levelling up stats?

              Nah, this is pure arcade game being injected directly into your veins.

              This basically does for Robotron what Resogun did for Defender.

                This basically does for Robotron what Resogun did for Defender.

                I think we're both showing our age here when I say I have no idea what you're talking about.

    I'm really really bad at it but its super fun. Highly recommend unless you really hate bullethell style games

    Oh wow.....this looks rad. Will definitely give it a shot given it has local multi!!

    Thanks for the article, definitely appreciate this sort of thing.

    Fantastic game, but it's a real kick in the nuts for older gamers such as myself. It's rare these days for games to rub my nose to this degree in how badly my reflexes have declined over the years :P

    I can barely keep track of what's going on!

      As a 50 year old, who's been gaming for more than 40 years, I totally get this. What hurts even worse is having your ass handed to you by your already cocky, 12 year-old nephew. I don't think I'd dare offer to play this with him.

      Fortunately, I could still destroy him in EU4 (if I wanted to. I don't, he's only 12, but I could).

        Nah, do it. You've got to take whatever you can get! :P

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