Prepare for trouble! Make it double! Nexomon: Extinction, a monster-capturing and battling adventure burst onto the console scene in 2020 to try to take the genre in a new direction and challenge a juggernaut to a duel.
So let’s address the Pokemon-shaped elephant in the room. There are some very obvious similarities with this title and the Pokemon games, not only in its monsters but also in its camera angles and battle system. Nexomon: Extinction, a sequel to Nexomon, takes those aspects and aims to differentiate itself with a more complex offering than its wildly popular counterpart with cute visuals, a suggestively apocalyptic story and humorous characters to appeal to a larger demographic, one including children and adults.
Your customizable character steps out of an orphanage to become a tamer within a guild set on reclaiming a world terrorized by tyrants, huge monster Nexomon, despite realizing they are way out of their depth. Working their way up through the guild’s ranks, you learn that the world isn’t simply black and white, with allies and enemies with similar motivations shifting alliances as the plot thickens. The game’s insistence in showing you that your actions are likely immoral combined with its amusing characters and presentation make for an enjoyable experience.
As your character doesn’t speak, your companion – a highly memorable cat – does all the talking for you. Hardly unique for the RPG genre, this feline makes up for it by sarcastically shooting down enemy retorts with as much ease as complaining about the ‘lack of effort’ the developer has put into the game and is just one example of a unique cast of characters full of charm and personality that exist in the story’s dark tone and setting.
Contrasting with said tones are the game’s effective visuals that combine clean and vibrant environments with silky smooth monster-fighting animation making it the best showcase of the Unity engine’s capabilities that I’ve ever seen. The cutscene stills, character avatars and chibi-characters further add to a great visual presentation while the soundtrack is the catalyst that brings everything together, the jet fuel that gives each area character, while each section of the story is boosted by tracks that convey the scene’s importance and emotional weight perfectly, giving the feeling of a truly epic adventure. The upbeat and high tempo Egyptian and Japanese-inspired tracks for their corresponding maps, in particular, are highly addictive and are constantly on loop on my Youtube playlist.
Despite my playthrough of the main story only lasting 17 hours, it’s quite impressive how much content the developer VEWO Interactive included. It actually would have been shorter if it weren’t for me getting stuck for embarrassingly long periods in the game’s puzzle sections. The large cast of entertaining and exaggerated characters entice with just enough backstory without feeling overwhelming and provide context to a story with depth and heart. It’s executed so well that you’ll wish the game was longer.
Every single NPC has something to say and that conversation changes throughout the story, referring to your most recent actions in the region. This is also true with other tamers who you can challenge again after a period of time, which is where the majority of your experience will be gained, giving a real sense of a malleable and living world. In addition, there is a great mixture of things to do, with a large list of side quests, even extensive ones that start immediately after the main story game has been completed, extending the game’s life considerably. So enjoyable is it to just explore this world, and the desire to learn more about it, that completing side quests feels as rewarding as the main story.
The battle system differs little to others in the genre but does include a system of cores – or buffs – assignable to your monsters. Working as percentage increases to your stats, they can be created with materials that you mine throughout the game and are essential to aid your progress. Ironically though, they are actually too useful, removing much of the challenge from the battles.
Despite having the standard amount of 6 Nexomon in my team, I managed to defeat 95% of all the main story enemies with one character, even with elemental differences, and only used the others to occasionally heal and revive it. Another disappointing aspect with the battle system is that aside from the high-level Nexomon in the story, there is a complete lack of interaction with and information about most of the 300+ basic level beasts, which makes them feel entirely separate from the story and a necessity only for the gameplay mechanic. The Shin Megami Tensei series, while far darker in tone to Nexomon: Extinction, allows the player to communicate with its demons, linking them to the story and its world excellently and I can’t help feeling that Nexomon: Extinction could have benefited greatly from a similar approach during battles, whether that’s through general conversation or negotiations. Even the trading function currently in the game could have included Nexomon and would have been a welcome addition.
Rather than feeling like a rip-off, Nexomon: Extinction is a great little title that pushes the genre in a story-driven direction while also providing the freedom and addictive gameplay that it’s known for. With a custom-mode on the horizon that’ll allow players to completely change the parameters of the game in New Game+ capacity, it will address any issues with the game’s difficulty and adds yet further value to an already feature-rich game.
As such, this is an easy recommendation for fans of the genre and with a focus on humour and storytelling, it also comes recommended for those wanting to test the monster-infested waters for the first time.