Is “Nex Machina” worthy of its legacy?


You’ll see this thing in between worlds.

As fall approaches and the avalanche of all the big budget games draws near, it’s nice to play something simple and fun, even if it’s unforgiving. “Nex Machina: Death Machine” models itself after classic “shoot ’em up” arcade games like “Robotron 2084” and “Smash T.V.,” which makes sense considering that industry veteran, Eugene Jarvis, served as a creative consultant on this game.

Like those classic shoot ’em up games, the game-play mainly consists of running around various levels, shooting enemies and bosses, and collecting upgrades along the way. You also rescue humans for score multipliers. “Nex Machina” brings in some rogue-like elements. If the player dies, an upgrade is lost but can be recovered from the place of death. If all lives are lost, so are all the upgrades. This can make the more challenging parts of the game even more frustrating, as it can become nearly impossible to beat certain sections with just your base weapon.

“Nex Machina” is great to kill 10 minutes with, but it’s also a game to play for hours at a time by trying to discover all of its secrets or beat at a higher difficulty. The game-play is fast and addictive. The controls feel great. Every time I died, it felt fair, instead of it being blamed on an unresponsive command or an overpowered enemy.

It took me about 40 minutes to beat the game for the first time on the easiest difficulty. That seems low for a $20 game, but beating the game for the first time is more about learning how to play than anything. “Nex Machina” is full of little-hidden secrets: secret paths to take, humans to rescue and exits to find. It’s the kind of game that’s meant to be replayed over and over again, and the game-play has the depth to justify that.

Visually, the game is very creative. It goes for an 80s-style aesthetic with bright neon colors and voxels. The screen is often filled with neon pink and green lasers and bullets. The style can be overwhelming at times, but it pairs very well with the game-play and retro sound effects.

Adapting classic arcade game-play into a modern game is something that a lot of game developers attempt, but few get right. “Nex Machina” offers something that I can see myself going back to every couple of months or whenever I want to challenge my reflexes.


Shoot ’em up: Games where the main thing you thing you do is shoot at waves of enemies with unlimited ammo. Usually on a 2-D plane.

Rogue-like: refers to rogue-style games where you lose something every time you die.

Voxels: You ever watch something and a thing blows up into a bunch of small cubes or other shapes? That’s a voxel.

[Final Score 4/5]

Ulises Duenas can be reached at [email protected] or @OrionUlisesD on Twitter