Nex Machina is an insanely fast-paced bullet hell game. There’s no story, and the game revolves entirely around its action-packed gameplay. There is little to no downtime while playing, and the gameplay is extremely addicting.
You’ll be constantly running, and gunning down the enemies spawning all around you. Your main weapon stays the same throughout the game, but it can be upgraded to have longer range and spread-shot via pick-ups you find while playing. Other items you can discover are five different secondary weapons, two different modifications to your dash ability, as well as shields and extra lives. The secondary weapons are all unique and fun to use, but only one of them may be equipped at a time.
You’ll need to avoid taking damage from enemies, lasers, and projectiles, all while trying to save the humans and discover secrets. Using dash gives you iframes making you invulnerable for a brief period. The iframes are an excellent lifesaver. The ability does have a short cooldown though, so using them properly will make a difference between life or death.
Taking any damage causes you to lose a life, as well as drop one of your upgrades where you died. You can retrieve the upgrade as long as you don’t die again before picking it up. Lives are finite though, and if you run out of lives, you’ll be asked if you want to continue the game. Depending on which difficulty you play on, you will only be granted a certain number of continues before you lose the game and need to restart completely.
Saving all the humans in each level nets you a nice score bonus, and encourages you to fight quickly, and prioritize the enemies that are posing a direct threat to them. Stringing together several levels where you saved all the humans is even more rewarding. I really like that there is an objective beyond just clearing each level, and that trying to accomplish it does prove to be more of a challenge.
As far as the challenge goes, Nex Machina definitely has a lot to offer. There are four difficulty settings, as well as score attack challenges where you can compete on the leaderboards. The game consists of five worlds, each with several levels and then a boss level at the end. Boss fights are well choreographed, and you can learn fights and enemy spawn patterns on each level with a good amount of practice.
- fun, fast, fluid, and challenging gameplay with finite lives, and limited continues depending on the difficulty setting
- iframes are reliable and effective
- great replay value with the main arcade, as well as score attack modes (there are lots of objectives i.e humans to save and secrets to find)
- a variety of enemy types, and the intense boss boss levels
- movement and controls feel responsive and precise when using a controller (full controller support, and you can tell that the game is designed for a controller, thus, playing with a controller is an absolute must if you hope to do well)
- the game looks amazing – the vibrant colours, the distinct environments, and the unique enemies are all great, and the awesome enemy death animations, and how they break up into bits
- the audio is impeccable: the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic throughout the entire game, the sound effects are excellent, and the voice that tells you when you have a power up is great
- some serious issues with the mouse cursor that may make the game unplayable on higher difficulties – the mouse cursor is always present on screen, and more often than not, where the cursor shows it is, is not where you’re actually shooting, which it makes aiming extremely difficult (an accurate mouse cursor needs to be patched in for those who want to use the mouse and keyboard)
- (nitpick) mouse cursor still shows up on screen even when playing with a controller, but it’s not too distracting
I’ve played nearly 7 hours so far. I completed the game on rookie difficulty, and made it up to the final boss on normal difficulty before running out of continues. There is a lot of replay value, and fans of the genre will likely get a lot of enjoyment out of it. There is also a local co-op mode, but I haven’t gotten a chance to experience it yet.
Overall, Nex Machina is an immensely fun and addicting game. My only complaint about the game is that it is practically unplayable with a mouse and keyboard due to the broken aiming and mouse cursor issues, so if you prefer playing with a mouse and keyboard, hold off on buying until it gets fixes. With that being said, the game is clearly designed for controllers, and if you love playing bullet hells with controllers, then Nex Machina is a sheer blast to play, and well-worth the purchase.