When Nexomon: Extinction landed on consoles in 2020, I didn’t expect it to be such a breath of fresh air. Despite following a well-trodden monster-catching path, one dominated by Pokémon, developers VEWO Interactive ensured their take on this formula is an experience which is well worth a look. Before Extinction however, came the original Nexomon and, in a strange turn of events, that’s now been released on console too. Given the unfortunate position of Nexomon rocking up after such a great instalment, can it really live up to the high standards set by its own sequel?
In short, no. What it does do here at least is present a solid foundation for which Nexomon: Extinction certainly built upon. That’s fine to a degree, apart from the fact that Nexomon is far too similar to everything seen before in the realm of Pokémon; to long-time players it’ll be a bit of a disappointment.
Nexomon places you front and centre as the protagonist of an RPG adventure, which is presented from a kind of isometric viewpoint. The story is that long, long ago, the evil beast in charge of all the Nexomon was vanquished and since then, these ‘monsters’ and humans have lived in almost perfect harmony. Unfortunately the most powerful Nexomon tamer, the Nexolord, is up to something rather devious and through pure coincidence, the fate of the world rests upon your inexperienced shoulders to put an end to his scheme.
While the narrative is relatively straightforward, there are a couple of twists and turns that throw a spanner in the works. It’s also witty on occasion, but it doesn’t hit the funny bone too frequently and a lot of the text dialogue is forgettable. The characters you’ll interact with are memorable though, as each are designed very well in coordination with their preferred elemental type and subsequently adorn the appropriate attire for the environment in which they reside. Some of them are familiar from Nexomon: Extinction, like the ever-so-creepy Alfred, and it’s good to see their origins play out.
Aside from chatting to everyone and anyone, the main crux of the adventure involves battling those who look to halt your attempts to reach the Nexolord. Just like Pokémon, you’ll acquire a starter beast to raise and must gather a team of six by capturing others via encounters in the wild. You could make it a personal mission to obtain all of the visually intriguing 310 Nexomon if you so wish. The variety and ingenious naming of the Nexomon is consistently great, with the volt blasting Amphant, fiery koala bear Kindala and the nut hoarding Cheekmunk amongst my favourites. The only drawback there is how basic and uninformative the catching method is; there are just the two catching device types and the success rate for one seems to be potluck.
Furthermore, there’s a real lack of explanation when it comes to the elemental strengths and weaknesses. During the turn-based battles against regular tamers and mini-bosses, strategy can turn the tide of events in your favour. Knowing that Water extinguishes Fire is a given, but figuring out Wind types are susceptible to Electric is a tough one. The status effects are overpowered too, seeing your Nexomon get frozen out, paralyzed or put to sleep in an endless loop at times. This means you have to be quite cunning however; grinding wild encounters to level up your Nexomon high enough to wipe out most enemies in a hit and carrying lots of potions is the solution.
Within each main area you’ll traverse through there are Overseers in charge, much akin to the Gym Leaders in Pokémon. Depending on the location, they’ll favour a particular type of Nexomon and so you can’t merely rely on a single beast to win for you. Winning the encounters rewards XP and this helps level up the Nexomon involved to better prepare for the increasingly tougher opponents ahead. Apart from the risk posed by the stupidly effective status effects, the battle system is decent enough overall and the different kinds of opposition ensure you plan for a wide range of situations. What’s good is that the fights are pretty swift, which moves things along nicely.
In fact, the main story can be all wrapped up in around ten hours, which is short for this kind of game. Fortunately, the end isn’t necessarily the end and you can put your Nexomon through a rebirthing procedure, before heading into a completely different world for an even trickier task. There’s a whole lot of playtime to be garnered here and that’s without factoring in any desire to ‘catch them all’.
The entire world itself is made up of 10 regions and it’s easy to differentiate between most of them due to the vibrant colour palettes. Ignitia is the home of fire-based Nexomon and tamers with fiery pits populating the place, while the sunny beaches of Palmaya is where the watery creatures hang out. My only criticism is how there’s a lot of greenery going on in a fair few areas and the environmental character is lacking in some places – it just looks a bit bland now and again.
At the end of the day, Nexomon is almost a victim of its own successor and suffers from a lack of originality compared to games of a similar ilk. An area in which it does stand out though is in regards to the impressive feat of creating 310 unique Nexomon. The story is decent enough to keep things moving along and introduces a hatful of interesting characters, without really getting its hooks into you. Catching the entire Nexomon population is a fairly good past-time too, but the battling leaves a little to be desired and the grind-y nature can become monotonous.
Nexomon is by no means a bad game, it’s just not quite in the upper echelons of RPG adventures. For the fairly low price – under a tenner – you’ll have fun and should definitely consider buying if a Pokémon copycat is all you require.
Head on over to the Xbox Store if you wish to purchase Nexomon!