Housemarque’s latest game Nex Machina isn’t just a superb twin-stick shooter that combines tight action with lightning-quick bullet hell stages: It’s also more addictive than a cake made out of heroin. Nex Machina is a short game, but its longevity lies not in its initial 45 minute (give or take) run but rather in its Arena mode.
You’re given a chance to not only replay the superb stages again, but to also do better. To score bigger and work your way to the top of the charts. Which is easier said than done. Struggling to keep up and wondering how to crack that magical five million points barrier? Here’s a few tips to help you max the numbers on your attempt to be the best.
You’ve got a dash ability: Use it. Tapping L1 isn’t just a superb way to avoid danger at the very last second, but also a crucial component towards mastering Nex Machina. Once upgraded, the dash is a force to be reckoned with but it’s also incredibly value as a stage-ending move to earn a few extra points. Hit the dash just as you find yourself enveloped in some blue light and you’ll earn an easy 1000 points for your efforts.
Easy stuff. Once added up over the course of an entire level, that’s a chunk of points that you’ve earned for being quick on the trigger. If only real life worked that way.
With around five main levels and over a dozen stages in each of them, Nex Machina looks like a pretty clear-cut game. Look a little deeper, and you’ll spot quite a few secret stages that’ll throw tougher and more devious combinations of enemies at your ass. Did I say enemies? I meant point-sponges, as these extra arenas are perfect for racking up even more points than usual.
You can find these stages scattered across Nex Machina, hidden in arcade cabinets that need you to blast the tokens out of them. Complete your stage, dash away and you’ll automatically be dropped into a more hostile zone to kill your way to bonus point glory.
Save the humans!
Nex Machina’s greatest combo-streak all boils down to those helpless humans that you’re risking digital life and limb to rescue. Grabbing all of them isn’t just a method that’ll drastically increase your score once you’ve wiped the floor with an end-stage boss, but also the best chance you’ll have at earning the big boy points.
See, every time you grab a human you’ll start a combo chain that increases with each homo sapien saved. This chain can be extended through other stages in a level, making rescuing humans not only a priority but also one that has to be accomplished with a certain rhythm and flow. Grab all of them too soon and you risk losing the combo chain. Wait too long and chances are high that they’ll be forever lost to you, thus killing your score-streak attempt entirely.
Adding another wrench to the dilemma are the secret humans, people cowering away in more inaccessible spots that you’ll need to battle through the secret levels to find. But for the chance to battle a boss with a score multiplier that reaches higher and higher? Totally worth it.
While Nex Machina has an unlimited supply of ammo attached to your wrist, it also hands out a few extra weapons of mass destruction once you’ve found and earned them. A secondary attack that takes the form of personal bomb shields, lasers and remote control explosives are part of your arsenal, as is a more powerful dash that detonates on impact.
You combine all of those extra skills into an unstoppable force of carnage and you wind up with one hell of a system for pushing back the mechanoid menace. It’s risky to master and use these skills in battle, but the gamble is well worth the potential payoff. Plus it looks as stylish as can be.
Here’s the bit that rubs some salt into any fresh wounds that Nex Machina’s brutal gameplay may have inflicted on you since it was released: You screw up once and you can kiss the biggest score-streak of your life away. You miss one human, one secret stage or die even once, and it’s game over man game over. It’s fine to experiment and pay the ultimate price in pursuit of excellence, but when you’re looking to earn a top spot in the rankings then you cannot settle for second-best ever.
At its very core, Nex Machina has a groove and flow that can’t be matched. It requires concentration and a rhythm that is entirely without mercy. You mess up once and you might as well restart entirely. Something that you’ll have to get used to plenty as you tick the hours away chasing the top spot. It’s all worth it in the long run of course.
Nex Machina is out right now on PC and PS4. You should play it, because it’s rather chuffing good.
Last Updated: June 29, 2017