I really liked Resogun. Like, in an unhealthy way that those arcade-style shooter games have never really hit with me before. I mean, sure, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX was super incredible, and I got into the score chase a lot there, but between the launch of the PS4 and the then dearth of games, Resogun quickly became the thing everyone was playing and competing to top the charts with. I’m happy to say, Housemarque’s new game is astonishingly similar to that title in all of the best ways.
As someone who missed out on Alienation, (I never really get exposed to Housemarque’s most recent twin-stick shooter title) I did like Dead Nation quite a bit at the time, but Nex Machina was almost all fresh. Nex Machina seems to take the best from Resogun and that twin-stick shooter genre, and blend them into a new concept that is both challenging and beautiful, just like Resogun before it.
As you might imagine, what comes with this comparison is the voxel-explosion style that made Resogun so visually intoxicating. There was a sense and explosion to every brick-based enemy that made fighting and blasting things apart oh-so-satisfying. Voxels, as they were called, would explode in all directions as the music blasted, lasers fired, and your score climbed. I’m happy to say that Nex has a very similar feeling, with enemies blowing up in almost the exact same way, only this time you’re not a ship, you’re a little humanoid figure running around blasting things with an arm cannon. There is a bit more of a tactile feel to it, which makes it feel grounded, where ships in shooters typically feel a bit floaty; this is par for the course with twin stick shooters, and as always, Housemarque kills the feeling to a T.
The movement and pacing of combat is in waves, but in two ways: there are the waves of enemies, but also your character moves on to new areas of the map after completing one section. On face value, it was cool because it moves you into new boards with new challenges, but occasionally the game would play with perspective, moving you to the side of the landmass you’re on, turning a top down shooter almost a behind the back one.
That running theme of smooth gameplay was here all the while. Bullets flying, dozens of enemies on screen, voxel explosions, constant movement, gorgeous particle effects, and not a single drop of a frame. Silky smooth.
Where the Resogun ideas came in was mechanically: there are humans spread throughout each board you can rescue for points. Each level in Resogun had 10 humans to save, and by saving all of them you’d get a massive bonus to points. Instead of killing certain swarms of enemies to release the humans from their prisons, the core of that mechanic in Resogun, they’re wandering back and forth across each of the different boards in the level, and just like before, specific abducting enemies will creep their way toward the humans to capture them, or in Nex Machina’s case, completely murder them, adding a bit of a time-pressure to saving them. Most of my demo was spent getting super-murdered trying to save the humans for points, much like most of my time with Resogun.
There were interesting power ups, like a better gun, a sword as a secondary, close-range weapon, and a shield that would take a hit for you preventing instant death. Nothing too crazy, but the best part was the dash that you had to use to get through lasers in the level, and could use to get past blockades of enemies. Upgrading that to a triple dash was probably the best power up.
I really liked what I played, which I think goes without saying. Remembering how good a game Housemarque makes is a huge boon to Nex Machina. All you really need to know is Housemarque is making one of those games again, it’s a cool blend of their ideas, and I’m really excited to play it. No word on release yet, but it’s another leaderboard I hope to climb.