Housemarque continues to prove that games don’t always have to include the deepest narratives, most compelling characters, and biggest open-worlds possible. Sometimes a game can understand what it does, and then do it at an exceptional level. The studio has produced game after game that doesn’t just suck you in, but it provides endless hours of what seems like simple fun, while remaining quite nuanced and challenging.

The latest experience to come from Housemarque is their top-down, twin-stick shooter Nex Machina. This game is yet another colorful, explosive and addicting experience. Nex Machina will entertain you for hours, through its five levels and different gameplay modes.

Games don’t always have to be super complex, as sometimes being straightforward with its mechanics and systems can generate the most fun possible. I’ll just come out and say it, Nex Machina is the most fun I have had playing a video game in 2017.

Those who have played previous Housemarque games like Resogun will quickly become familiar with how Nex Machina works. Gamers blast their way through five different levels that are filled with challenge, intricacy and plenty of rewarding gameplay. Generally speaking, your main goal is to try and attain the high score for each level.

Beware of the lasers, they can be the end of your legendary round (Courtesy of Housemarque).

Each level is packed with unique enemies that are diverse and add different variables to how you’ll play. Levels evolve and become more difficult as you progress through each stage, and all culminate with an intense boss battle. The game employs the “easy-to-learn, hard-to-master,” technique and it fits wonderfully.

Gamers will battle to rack up the highest score possible in Nex Machina. To do this, that means staying alive, accruing bonus lives, destroying enemies, increasing your multiplier and picking up special weapons that’ll aid you throughout battle. Weapons you can pick up along the way are things such as the Detonator, Laser, Powershot and Rocket Launcher.

My personal favorites are the Laser and Powershot. These two allow you to take out bigger enemies who try and steal humans. That is another core element of gameplay, saving humans. As you save humans, your multiplier will increase, granting you the ability to rack up a high score. Dying drops the multiplier down, so stay alive as long as you can.

It is important to find the special weapon that works best for you. What’s great about picking up special weapons is you can just wait for the right one to pop-up. After you destroy a special weapon box, it’ll rotate through the six weapons. Once you see the arm you like, run over it and its yours.

Achieving a high score is one of the most rewarding things in Nex Machina (Courtesy of Housemarque).

It is thrilling once you can attain a high multiplier, like a 10 times multiplier. By this point, you’ll be able to snatch multiplier icons that boost your multiplier even further. While this means gameplay stakes are being raised, it provides all the more fun and rewarding gameplay.

I found each of the levels in Nex Machina to be fun and they all provided unique takes on gameplay. For those who just wish to unlock all of the levels right from the start, there’s Arcade. This mode allows you to play straight through the five levels of Nex Machina. Of course, achieving a high score is a priority, but Arcade a great way to get to know each level. I spent plenty of time playing Arcade, simply to enjoy a lengthier playthrough of all the levels.

Boss battles can be more challenging for one type of player versus another. I feel like if you’re skilled at circling a boss and maintaining precise fire, then you’ll thrive when battling the first boss. Those who aren’t as strong in this area may struggle.

That said, one of the game’s latest bosses is quite easier, provided you can dodge and dash your way around incoming support infantry, while maintaining fire on the boss who remains stationary. It is interesting to me to see how different levels embrace certain gameplay strengths versus others. I really enjoy Arcade and think those who want to discover each level will too.

What gameplay strategy will you employ to master Nex Machina (Courtesy of Housemarque).

Switching gears to Nex Machina‘s second mode, Arena. This is an experience in which you’ll work to complete certain achievements. In order to take them on, gamers accrue currency by snatching collectibles throughout gameplay. These will help you unlock new challenges, which you can then try to complete.

These can range between things like achieving a high score on Techno Forest, playing through a round with the speed of enemies turned up or trying to achieve the highest score possible in four minutes. Those stipulation challenges can be taken on for the four other levels in Nex Machina.

Playing Nex Machina with the speed of enemies turned up is crazy and crazy fun. You really have to be on your toes in order to survive, and it’s quite a rush when you successfully complete a level on the increased speed.

What is true of all Nex Machina gameplay is how you’ll become familiar with its worlds. Single Worlds is a great way to familiarize yourself with each level. Once they’ve been unlocked through Arcade mode, you can battle through each level, one at a time. This is the perfect way to try and master a level. Understanding where the secret humans, secret stages and special weapons are is important to mastering a level.

Dive, dodge, duck, dip and dodge…or something like that (Courtesy of Housemarque).

Unlocking a secret stage will mean a string of new phases to fight through. This is meant to be a great way to increase your multiplier and rack up a higher score. However, be careful with the additional stages because dying will only cost lives and your multiplier.

There are a number of different Feats for players to accomplish, should they wish to truly complete Nex Machina. These ask players to achieve tasks like finishing a level without saving a single human, something that is easier said than done.

You might think this is a simple thing to do, but it’s excruciatingly difficult. You are always taught to save humans, so much so that it becomes a reflex. This makes not saving them all the more difficult, but in a very entertaining way. Feats are a fun way to dive deeper into its gameplay and I highly recommend giving them all try.

Housemarque is a favorite developer of mine, particularly given the fact that they continuously put out addicting, simple, yet deep experiences. This game doesn’t try and fool you with magnificent looks or complicated narratives. It is straightforward fun and is an experience anyone can dive into.

Whether you have 15 minutes or five hours to spare, Nex Machina is an absolute blast, and is one I’d recommend to anyone. This game is a perfect 10/10. Nex Machina is available now on PS4 and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Housemarque. Housemarque provided We Write Things with a PS4 review code of Nex Machina for the purposes of this review.

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.