Video games have often pulled inspiration from predecessors, whether it be flatout thievery of ideas or a refinement of gameplay mechanics that were pioneered in a breakout hit a few years prior. After Batman: Arkham Asylum arrived, every third-person action game suddenly included a dedicated button for countering attacks. Once Dead Cells hit the scene, roguelites became obsessed with giving players one of three incremental upgrades for health, damage, and special abilities.
On and on the list goes, but surprisingly, Pokemon doesn’t have that many imitators attempting to flatter the pocket monster powerhouse of Nintendo. That core gameplay loop, lightning-quick RPG battles that combines knowledge of elemental advantages and growing your favourite critters into region-conquering titans, was brilliant more than 20 years ago and is still fantastic to this day in every core addition to the series.
While the most recent example of a challenger to Pokemon’s throne would be the delightful Temtem, there’s another contender waiting in the shadows by the name of Nexomon: Extinction. On the surface, it looks like it’s a single lawsuit away from being confused for a Pokemon game. The visuals are bright, the gameplay looks massively familiar and the idea of adding new allies to your menagerie does ring a few bells.
What Nexomon has going for it though, is something that Pokemon games have rarely featured: A story that actually grabs your attention. While the tale of a young orphan learning to tame Nexomon and harness their power to prvent a global extinction event at the claws of deadly ancient Nexomon sounds like your usual Friday night Dungeons ‘n Dragons session, the game manages to realise this early on and plays out its story for laughs.
Are there serious moments of absolute peril where the fate of the world is at stake? Absolutely. Are there frequent moments of fourth-wall breaking and characters realising the pedantic nature of their world and the adventure they’re on, engaging in petty squabbles and one-line zingers? Double-yes, and having that layer of comedy helps give Nexomon a distinct personality.
As for the gameplay, there’s a certain joy to the unfamiliarity of Nexomon’s world and the almost 400 critters you’ll be able to encounter, capture and grow into mighty battlin’ beasts. A successful Pokemon clone in this section, Nexomon also relies on a handful of attacks whose effectiveness is dictated by elemental strengths, stats, and strategy. On a more innovative note, battles also require you to manage the stamina of your Nexomon, lest they become demotivated in a fight and fail to land any successful blows on the opposition.
It’s a neat touch, and it adds a layer of realism to the wildlife you throw into conflict with rival trainers and random encounters. Every Nexomon also looks fantastic, boasting imaginative designs and a hand-drawn art style that 3D pocket monster models simply can’t compete with.
One other interesting addition to the Pokemon formula that Nexomon improves on, are the mechanics for catching one of the monsters. While you’ll still need to chuck something directly at a Nexomon because that’s how science works (in this case, science-powered pyramids that can store them between battles), there’s a bit more work to be done beyond just giving your pitching arm a stretch. Once the capture process has begun, you’ll need to dial in some quick-time prompts so that your chances of a successful catch can increase.
Baiting Nexomon, taming them in battle, and frantically slapping buttons adds to the experience, and you’ll be doing the edge-of-your-seat shuffle when you see your tiny capture pyramid struggling to contain the Nexomon within it. Other than that, there’s not much that Nexomon does that stands out from the Pokemon formula. Its vibrant world is reminiscent of classic JRPGs and looks like a sharper version of Pokemon Black and White, the campaign will take up over 20 hours of your time easily and the Nexopedia makes for some fascinating reading.
Last Updated: September 25, 2020