Sitting down to complete the survey following the PC beta for Housemarque’s newest title, Nex Machina, I was greeted with mixed feelings. Ones that had me kicking myself for not carving out enough time to play more and others that consisted of an appreciation for not overplaying so not to ruin the upcoming full game experience. Although realistically I don’t think either scenario would have resulted in an issue. Housemarque has done what they do best and that’s craft a visually impressive, precise and addictive fun twin stick shooter. This has now become a calling card for the Finnish developer and they aren’t breaking suit with the outstanding Resogun follow-up. But could they have actually outdone themselves?
Nex Machina is a collaboration between Housemarque and Eugene Jarvis, the man behind Defender, Robotron, and Smash-Tv. So it is no surprise that the title they are creating is an excellent arcade experience. Resogun, which I consider to be the best arcade game available today, may have a strong competitor. Unlike Resogun or even Super Stardust, where both had you maneuvering across a cylinder and spherical plane, Nex Machina takes place within well designed areas detached from each other but still somewhat connected if that makes sense. And therein lies the star of the gameplay. Of course the controls are tight, graphics amazingly vibrant with their signature art style and the competitive nature addicting to an obsessive fault. But the level design is what steals the show. With each playthrough of the available arenas I was finding more secret humans to rescue or secret areas hidden behind destructible environments. Aside from just surviving and destroying all the enemies on screen and rescuing the humans finding these secrets became part of the objective. These are the types of design choices that makes good arcade games great, and Housemarque are masters at their craft. The pace and difficulty of each area ramps up from manageable to frantic and adrenaline pumping quite fast. Forcing you to utilize all pickups and make precise moves that leave you feeling, “how did I survive that?”. All the while after each death you’re left with the same conclusion, replay. As is the point of arcade games. To always be looking to go a bit further and stretch out that score a bit higher. Be prepared to lose hours Nex Machina, as most of us did to Resogun. But because of the fabulous levels and gameplay as the result of them I feel like Resogun may be dethroned from its arcade ivory tower. Only right it be another Housemarque game. The one thing that wasn’t clear in the beta that I hope will be available on the full release is cross platform play between PC and PS4. Although since some of the play areas are a little tight I’m not sure co-op would be doable, unless the developers have something up their sleeves in the multiplayer department.
Word is that Housemarque is shooting for a summer release window, which is not that far off. So hopefully we can all be filling up the leaderboards very soon. From what I’ve played in the beta this will be another top notch release from Housemarque.