NEXOMON: NEX(t) O(f) (poke)MON
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Simulation
Developer: VEWO Interactive Inc.
Publisher: PQube Limited,
VEWO Interactive Inc.
Release date: Aug 28, 2020
I have been playing Pokemon since Pokemon Red except for the latest 2 mainline entries, Ultra Sun/Moon and Sword/Shield. I don’t support their recent decisions. However, I do still consider myself to be a fan of the series. Perhaps it is because of this newfound gap as I foolishly wait for an installment with something more, that I am nudged toward Nexomon: Extinction to fill that proverbial void. I’m glad I took the leap as Nexomon: Extinction is a more than competent singleplayer-focused Pokemon-style RPG that isn’t afraid to make some changes to the formula.
Nexomon and Pokemon
As you have already guessed, Nexomons are equivalent to, well, Pokemon’s Pokemons. That’s the bottom line. The best thing to look forward to in this type of game is still that feeling of anticipation of encountering the monsters and their evolutions for the first time. This is something that has been lost from the mainline Pokemon these days. The franchise is so big that it is impossible to avoid all the leaks unless you go on a complete media blackout…but back to Nexomons.
Nexomons can be encountered in the wild, and they are also captured and trained by tamers to battle. Nexomon: Extinction shares many similarities with the Pokemon series as a whole. No surprise there considering that said series is the main inspiration that Nexomon builds its core gameplay on. As such, one can expect many of the main elements of Pokemon to be present.
About the Story
If there’s anything that Nexomon: Extinction has over Pokemon, it’s the story. The gist of it without any major spoilers is that in a world where Omnicron (no relation to Transformers!), the king of Nexomons has died, its children wage war against one another to become a new king. Humanity and our civilization being collateral damage. You are one of the orphans recruited to become a guild tamer to join the guild’s effort to prevent and stop the spreading damage of this war. The plot resembles more of a fantasy JRPG rather than a typical Pokemon. Unexpected? Get used to it! The game likes to play with your expectations and it’s quite effective!
Nexomon: Extinction also touches or allude to some of the heavier subjects. “I harbor no Nexomon slaves” is a direct quote example that is said by one of the characters in this game. Can you imagine Nintendo or GameFreaks letting something like that fly in Pokemon? Not in a million years. Alternate serious moments, 4th wall jokes, and occasional jabs at the dubious premise of what a J/RPG game entails and you get something special. I cannot attest to the original Nexomon but I can say with certainty that the story of Nexomon: Extinction is like a breath of fresh air and its strongest asset.
Exploring Nexomon: Extinction
The world of Nexomon: Extinction is vibrant and filled with colorful characters. Visually, it looks decent. Although I must confess I am not a big fan of the anime eyes on a top-down chibi character but that’s just me. Nexomons can be encountered in the wild but unlike its source of inspiration, it’s not a random encounter. They can only be fought if you walk into rustling grass save for some really specific areas. This means that you can choose whether or not to fight wild Nexomons at your own pace. An interesting thing to mention is that both the levels of wild Nexomons scale with you. To what degree, I cannot say for certain. In all areas, including parts that I am revisiting, they are often within a similar range of my entire party. The same also applies to the Nexomons of defeated tamers that become battle-ready again over time. The scaling makes it so that you won’t wander into an area where you are severely out-leveled so exploration is encouraged. This is great news as Nexomon: Extinction offers a greater level of freedom to explore places not currently relevant to the main quest. They are usually not restricted by Pokemon’s Hidden Machines style story locked abilities.
Minor Improvements That Go a Long Way
It not a monster-catching game without the ability to catch ’em all. Well, that’s not a usable catchphrase for Pokemon anymore, I suppose. In Nexomon: Extinction, the Nexomons can be captured when a Nexotrap, triangle-shaped Pokeball, is thrown at them. However, the process doesn’t end there. You will be prompted with a QTE circle made of buttons that, if executed perfectly, will improve your odds of capture. In addition to this, you can also see the percentage of how likely the Nexomons will be caught if the attempt is made which can be influenced by various factors share with the Pokemon series. However, the addition to the formula is that Nexomons can be fed and all influencing factors will show you in exact numbers how much they are affecting the percentage. The capture QTEs and feeding mechanics can be ignored if you find them to be tedious. Nexomons can be captured just fine regardless although it may take a couple more Nexotraps to get the job done. The option is there.
A similar improvement is that move descriptions give you an actual percentage of accuracy/effect/critical chance and speed modifier. No more vague description like the ones you’d find in pokemon. Quest system and a journal to keep track of all active ones that you have accepted is also a plus!
Nexomon battle is largely the same as the Pokemon battle but on a bit weaker side due to mechanic changes. One of the deviations is the stamina system. Instead of having Pokemon’s PP system in which a move can only be used a fixed number of times, all moves in Nexomon: Extinction has a stamina cost requirement. This may seem like a big change but all this does in practice is that your Nexomons will run out of moves to use fairly quickly. This will force you to invest in stamina recovery items or having to go back and forth between the healing center. I wish the devs would make it so that either a little bit of stamina would recover each turn during battle or a good chunk post-battle. As of current, stamina recovery is only accessible when your Nexomons do not have enough to use any moves. I feel that this system change has potential but just not implemented well.
Another thing to note is that Nexomons only have one offensive, and consequently, one defensive stat. There are no special attacks or defense values. This lessens the variety of moves and Nexomon individuality in general. It feels a bit strange to see that ghost or psychic type Nexomons deals the same damage type as the visually physical-oriented ones. Also, I wish that the game battle narration would better convey the effects of moves that the opposing Nexomons use. For instance, I still have no idea what no damage moves like Snake Eyes does as the game would just go “…use Snake Eyes!” and just ended there without proper clarification on what it does. This is also the case with some of the less obvious status effects like Provoke which your past Pokemon experience may add more to the confusion.
This is not to say the battle isn’t fun. They are quite enjoyable in the same manner as Pokemon but understandably more limited. Still, there are almost 400 Nexomons for you to raise. They are all unique but not as in-depth as Pokemon where sub-types, nature, and passive abilities exist. This may sound strange but I believe that it is a blessing that Nexomon: Extinction does not have PVP battle. I might be completely off but I do not think PVP would go over well due to the aforementioned mechanical changes. Best to keep it offline for now.
Nexomon: Extinction is a great singleplayer-focused alternative to Pokemon. Its strongest point is the story that serves as a stark contrast to the increasingly sterile and formulaic that Pokemon has become. The battle is indeed not as in-depth as Pokemon but there are still various other things that make up for most of it. This includes the quality-of-life improvements and the greater degree of freedom by exploration. Even if these are still excluded, I would still say the story is worth diving in. There’s also the fact that this game only costs a third of Pokemon Sword and Shield. Whether you are on a shoestring budget, tired of the direction that Pokemon has been heading, or just looking for a good story that can make you smile with, give Nexomon: Extinction a try and see how far passion and gumption can take a game!