Monday 19 October 2020

Nexomon: Extinction ★★★☆☆

Welcome to our review of Nexomon: Extinction, available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Nexomon: Extinction is a monster-catching RPG from developers VEWO INTERACTIVE (we can only assume the caps mean you have to shout their name). In it, you have to explore a vibrant world collecting Nexmon, as you hope to become a legendary Nexmon tamer for the Guild of Tamers. But your quest won’t be easy, as you have to contend with powerful rogue Nexomon called Tyrants.

If this all sounds a little Pokémon-esque, you may be on to something. However, the game promises enough differences, both thematically and mechanically, to help it stand out from its iconic forebears. But is it any good? Read on to find out…

Firstly, the most impressive thing about this game is the sheer scale of it all. Once you complete the tutorial, you’re free to go anywhere you’d like (with the exception of a few buildings significant to the story). This itself might not be anything new, but Nexomon includes an intuitive feature in which the difficulty of enemies scales to your own experience. This means you can explore without fear of falling foul to a beast that can bite your head off before you’ve summoned your first fighter.

Speaking of the combat, fans of the Pokémon series will find the turn based mechanics pretty familiar. You take turns pitting your Nexomon against wild ones in the hope of defeating or capturing them. With that being said, there are a couple of notable differences. There’s a stamina bar that wears down after each attack, with more powerful moves draining it faster. This means you’ll often have to rest or switch out one of the 6 Nexomon you’re allowed at a one time to ensure victory. While this can allow for some deeper strategy than found in Pokémon, it does slow things down a lot, and battles can be exhaustingly long. 

To make matters worse, the XP system also leaves a lot to be desired. You seem to earn the same amount regardless of the enemy you’re facing, whether they be a jacked up Tyrant or a low levelled wild Nexomon. This removes any real incentive to tackle the more challenging beasts, outside of narrative progression, and feels like a hugely avoidable oversight. 

In better news, the tongue-in-cheek tone of the game is a delight, and really helps to set it apart from its contemporaries. It’s based much more in high fantasy compared to the more grounded Pokémon, which allows it to get away with more silliness. Fourth wall breaking jokes, a sassy cat sidekick and even an overt nod to the Power Rangers (Go, Go… Nexolords?) can’t help put a smile on your face, and truly make up for some of Nexomon’s shortcomings.

A special mention must also be made for the stunning visuals. Take inspiration from the classic 2D art style of the classic Pokémon games, it’s vibrant, charming and has enough animation to help it feel alive and organic. The almost 400 monster designs are also largely fantastic. Some might have more than a striking resemblance to certain Pocket Monsters, however most are truly inspired and fit the aesthetic of the world brilliantly.

To wrap up, Nexomon: Extinction might be a Pokémon clone, but it’s the best one we’ve ever played. It follows the tropes when needed, and offers enough thematic and mechanical variety to prevent it from ever feeling like a straight rip off. We just wish the combat was a little snappier, as it unfortunately proves to be the weakest part of the whole experience. With that being said, it’s still the best ‘Pokémon’ experience you can have on a non-Nintendo console, and that alone makes it worth picking up. Unless, you know… you have a Nintendo console. In which case, why aren’t you playing Pokémon?

Tom Baker

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