Usually, when I cover a game that is reminiscent of another iconic experience, I typically touch on how these things are more complicated than you might think. Where Nexomon: Extinction differs is the ongoing battle between players on whether or not that is acceptable. At first, second and even tenth glance, it’s clear Nexomon: Extinction has a lot in common with Pokemon, yet some people argue whether that matters. Pokemon didn’t invent the style of gameplay that is commonly associated with it, instead, it just so happened to be the most popular one and kind of just controlled the market. More competition is always welcome, as it forces businesses to be more creative, yet that assumes you have a viable product. With so many things happening at once, is Nexmon: Extinction the multiplatform Pokemon game players want, or does it get crushed under the history of one of the most successful franchises of all time?
There is a fine line between being copying something and being reminiscent of it, one that I’d say Nexomon: Extinction often falls on the wrong side of. It took me a whole 20 minutes before I started looking at this experience less as its own thing and something closer to a student who changes a couple of words and claims it as their own work. For example, you could actually give a rather detailed overview of the core gameplay mechanics and honestly, most people would assume you mean Pokemon.
Essentially you play a younger kid who wants to be a
trainer tamer, is given their first monster, and needs to learn the ropes. During fights, you can have up to six monsters that each have a maximum of four attacks, with the option to attack, flee, use items, or swap them out. Each monster has specific advantages and disadvantages based on elements, along with other factors. As you progress, certain monsters will evolve into more powerful versions, adding certain distinct advantages and disadvantages. Based on your tactic you will either be successful or unsuccessful, with the best teams featuring a diverse range of monsters.
Even basic things like giving monsters more attacks or fewer allies would go a bit further than an experience that is so reminiscent of its inspiration that even items feel uninspired. Nexotraps, their version of Pokeballs, feel less like their own thing and instantly make you go triangular Pokeballs. All this being said, Nexomon: Extinction attempts its own ideas with mixed success.
Instead of doing damage and using aliments to increase your likelihood of capturing a monster, you’re given a rather simple chart calculating your odds of success. Getting a monster to critical HP will make things more likely, though you’re going to need to feed it, use the right nexotrap or get lucky if you want to actually capture it. It’s a rather obtuse way to elongate battle and make things a little more complicated than hit, stun, throw, catch, train, win. The downside is this can be a drain on resources and time, not to mention tedious but it also makes it easier to catch highly desired monsters.
Another interesting change is how information about Nexomons is displayed. Instead of Pokemon telling you basic information about them, you’re given a rarity, be it common, uncommon, and then entirely too many different versions of rare. Unfortunately, just though random chance, I didn’t get the impression these were entirely accurate, as some ultra-rare monsters appeared as often as uncommon. Still, the idea of telling you which monsters are worth using resources is extremely helpful.
Among the biggest differences is the story. Thankfully, you’re not going from town to town defeating gym leaders, collecting badges and overthrowing a criminal organization, you’re growing and ultimately trying to stop tyrants, which are something of a super-powered Nexomon that are in a battle with other equally powerful monsters in pursuit of the title of king. Now, there are badges and people controlling them, plus you run into some people who want to steal your monsters but it still stands on its own. That said, it isn’t particularly interesting.
Like a lot of the games in this pseudo-indie category, Nexomon: Extinction relies heavily on weak jokes and silly characters. When done correctly this can be a lot of fun, yet here is it is a bit of a slog. When you have characters (Coco) making sarcastic remarks every three to five lines of dialogue, you run into a situation where a lot of them fall short. Characters need to develop beyond these things to stand out, especially when there are a good number of roadblocks.
Fairly early on you learn two things, this is a grind-heavy adventure and combat isn’t the most fun. Unlike Pokemon, where you can use each attack a finite amount of times, you’re instead given a finite amount of, let’s just call it stamina, that replenishes when you choose an attack but lack the stamina to do it. Unfortunately, it only returns a small portion, meaning a tired monster will basically die in a couple turns but it makes fighting feel tedious. Either you invest in something to avoid this or you hang out near a healer to get around it. Unfortunately, bosses tend to be fairly powerful and you need to progress to have a shot. Against my first tyrant I was so weak, I would summon a monster and lose it before I could even elect to do something. It wasn’t until I went back and leveled a couple of monsters to level 15 did I actually have a chance against it.
Art is another weird shortcoming in Nexomon: Extinction. It’s clear what they were going for, yet a lot of the creatures look less like their own thing and more like a Chinese knockoff of something Pokemon would do. Even looking at the full chart there aren’t many that stand out, though I’ll give them credit for at least making some designs stand out.
Nexomon: Extinction Review – Verdict
While a lot of this review pokes fun at how much of an overlap there is between Nexomon: Extinction and Pokemon, it really isn’t a bad game. Unfortunately, a lot of the changes made are for worse, not to mention the designs not being as pleasing, but it does fill a hole on other non-Nintendo devices. It would be nice if there were other things to help it stand out or one stand out feature, but instead, we have a heavily inspired RPG that struggles to find a voice.
[Editor’s Note: Nexomon: Extinction was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]