With the release of the PS4 the options for games was minimal to say the least. That being said Playstation + members were given a nice treat with a couple freebies one of which was Resogun. Even having enjoyed Super Stardust HD on the PS3 I didn’t put two and two together that Resogun was also made by Housemarque until booting it up. I had so much fun with this electronica light show of voxel mayhem that I barely put it down until I had earned the platinum trophy.
Fast forward a few years and the fond memories of Resogun still sitting in the back of my mind Housemarque releases Nex Machina. Again I didn’t put it together that it was the same creator until booting up the first level and heard those bumping techno tunes as I blasted alien robots to the fireworks display of voxels and neon lasers.
Nex Machina follows the very formulaic style of shoot ‘em up with some added niceties. As with Resogun, on top of surviving the barrage of enemy fire you’re tasked with rescuing humans. This is done by simply running into them which is much easier than in its predecessor. There are still robots that also try and collect these pedestrians and if left for too long you’re left with the announcers “Human Lost”.
Progressing from zone to zone is done by destroying all enemy robots on the screen. Once you do you’re rocketed off to the next area which after a few of these confusing transitions you wonder if M.C. Escher was their inspiration for level design.
Like its predecessors Nex Machina makes you take advantage of the space around you, managing where you can move next is core to survival. It’s rather easy to back yourself into a corner and have to choose between a laser grid of insta-death and a hard place. On top of shooting you’re given the ability to dash which allows you to get out of some of those tough spots by going through laser or enemies unscathed. There are also power-ups which can improve your primary weapon, dash, or provide a secondary weapon such as a rocket launcher. These secondary abilities are extremely powerful and great for clearing swaths of enemies quickly and effectively.
Bosses are pretty cut and dry like any SHMUP with recognizable movement and shooting patterns. They are far from easy though as with any bullet-hell there is usually little room for error and the slightest miscalculation can leave you with the push x to continue screen.
I say push x to continue rather than game over simply because if you play on the first two difficulties you’re given either 99 or unlimited continues. It’s not until at least veteran that you’re relegated to only 30. I chuckled a bit when booting the game up at the ridiculous number of second chances you’re given but honestly unless you’re a twin stick shooter god you’re probably going to use a few. I myself am far from this and managed to use 30-40 continues before bumbling past the last boss.
The game has an odd way of punishing you for dying even though they give you literally a ton of continues. Dying causes you to lose some of your power-ups which after a few you might be stuck fighting a boss with the most basic primary weapon when you had trouble and were losing with a maxed out one.
I also found that the power-ups themselves were a little boring when compared to some other SHMUPs. You really only had a shield, spread shot, and a couple dash upgrades. Along with a selection of secondary weapons it doesn’t give a wide variety of play style. That being said it really doesn’t need to. Nex Machina plays phenomenally at its core and even if the power-ups are boring it didn’t detract from my enjoyment.
I guess I should talk at least a little about graphics and sound. The visuals are filled with oversaturated neon colours and voxel style landscape. I think the most impressive part about it is there is no lag when explosions result in massive amounts of cubes flying around the screen. The techno beats fit the genre perfectly with getting your blood pumping while all of this is going on. I think if a rave could be turned into a game then Housemarque has hit the nail on the head.
All in all this game is fantastic and if you like twin stick shooters then it’s a must have. Now if only I can get Housemarque to replace my thumb sticks everything will be good.