Classic arcade shooters like Robotron 2084 and Smash TV pride itself on its frantic and frenetic gameplay. They overwhelm you with an onslaught of enemies, which provides a sense of instant satisfaction as you destroy every last one of them. Developer Housemarque’s newest arcade shooter Nex Machina: Death Machine exemplifies its roots with these concepts in mind.
The objective of Nex Machina is simple: destroy the enemy incursion in each phase and defeat the boss at the end of each level to accumulate the highest score. However, within its simplicity is an arcade shooter with immense depth and unique features. Integral for obtaining the highest score possible is to keep your multiplier active. As you shoot enemies, it will not only keep your multiplier intact, but will increase it helping you garner more points. On the other hand, getting hit will restart it, as well as strip you from any power-ups you attained.
Similar to Housemarque’s previous title, Resogun, saving every human in each phase awards you additional points, making it intrinsic for attaining the highest score. This provides a risk/reward system that challenges your skills to the utmost ability. Grabbing them garners an immense amount of bonus points, but at the risk of your life, which restarts your multiplier.
The control scheme is also quite easy to pick up. Like most dual-stick shooters, the left joystick moves the character and the right one shoots. A dodge mechanic allows you to phase through certain environmental obstacles and the plethora of enemies as they surround you. At the end of the dodge, it emits an area-of-effect attack that eradicates any foe caught in its bubble. It also expends energy, making the ability unavailable for a short period of time. This facet of combat encourages players to take a strategical approach rather than “run n’ gun” their way through a level.
Nex Machina: Death Machine is the modern equivalent to Robotron 2084. Housemarque’s collaboration with the legendary game designer Eugene Jarvis shines through this incredibly joyous dual-stick shooter. Boasting tight mechanics, gorgeous visuals, and fun mechanics in just a single stage, Housemarque’s next entry will be amongst their best.