Have you ever wondered what would happen if one of the numerous Pokémon fan games became a fully fledged release? Well wonder no longer because Nexomon exists. Nexomon: Extinction is the sequel to 2017’s, formerly mobile exclusive, Nexomon. To say that it takes heavy inspiration from Nintendo’s collectible creature cash printing machine would be a bit of an understatement as you’ll be stepping into the shoes of a mute teen running around the world collecting a variety of creatures. Unfortunately, Nexomon: Extinction doesn’t manage to meaningfully iterate on the games that inspire it creating a good imitation, but nothing more.
Developer: VEWO Interactive Inc
Publisher: PQUBE Limited, VEWO Interactive Inc
Release Date: August 28th 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Let me start by establishing the basic gameplay loop of Nexomon. Gameplay is broken down into three major pillars: collecting, battling, and evolving. Unlike traditional JRPGs, you compose your party by capturing creatures from around the world. This will give you a sizeable collection to customize your party allowing you to tailor it to your exact specifications. You’ll then use your team in battle to progress through the story while also increasing the power of your creatures. Eventually your critters will evolve into more powerful forms increasing their efficiency in battle. Discovering each evolution can also add a layer of fun to the collection aspect of this style of game.
The collection aspect of Nexomon: Extinction is definitely where it shines brightest. There is a very diverse range of creatures available for each of the game’s nine different elemental types with a lot of visual variety across all offerings for a single element. I had a lot of fun finding new species and learning what their empowered evolved forms looked like, which will always be the most important aspect of a collectible creature game for my money.
One distinct improvement Nexomon makes over Pokémon comes in the form of the capturing mechanics. Unlike Pokémon, Nexomon displays the odds you have for capturing each creature and has various universal mechanics that add an extra layer to this facet of gameplay. You can feed creatures and use traps that matches their type to dramatical improve your odds of success. I was a big fan of this as, even though it was simple, it added an extra layer to capturing new creatures outside of relying on hidden luck modifiers.
Visuals and music are another stand-out area for Nexomon. Several of the game’s melodies accurately convey the atmosphere for where they play and are catchy to boot. Visually, Nexomon uses a style that is very vibrant and bouncy, which I rather enjoyed. The only complaint I’d have is that certain screens are a little too busy which creates a lot of visual noise for seemingly no reason. Having smaller, more focused environment design would have helped to alleviate this gripe.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good ends with Nexomon.
Were there a machine that wrote JRPG plots Nexomon’s story would be the default product. Some kind of world ending event involving Gods is happening, you need to assemble a team of warriors (or in this case creatures), and then you venture forth on a noble quest to stop the world ending disaster. Also, the player character is the chosen one. It really doesn’t get any more generic than that.
While I wasn’t a fan of the story there was two notable stand-outs with regard to it. Firstly, many of the cast members from the previous Nexomon game make appearances in Extinction so for those who played the original there are a ton of callbacks. Secondly, the fourth wall is broken very often and in most cases it is broken to good effect. Some may find these breaks invasive, but with the story being so pedestrian I found these attempts at humour a very welcome addition.
Nexomon also features incredibly shallow turn-based combat. As previously mentioned, there are nine different elemental types each with a handful of strengths and weaknesses. Success in battle boils down to swapping to a creature that has an advantage against your opponent’s current selection and obliterating them by repeatedly using your strongest attack. The faster you learn these advantages the sooner all semblance of challenge will evaporate. Nexomon never makes any attempt to throw curveballs at the player, which ultimately leads to the combat becoming incredibly repetitive by the end of the game’s runtime.
The only other aspect of Nexomon to talk about is cores. You can craft these from shards that you find scattered around the world and then equip up to four of them on any Nexomon. They provide minor stat boosts which can be useful, but I almost exclusively used them to increase experience yield from fights. In this way I’d say they’re largely not needed outside of streamlining the most tedious aspect of the game.
Nexomon: Extinction is by no means a bad game: it is simply a very successful imitation. It doesn’t manage to meaningfully differentiate itself from its inspiration and thus exhibits a lot of the same faults as it. Shallow, repetitive gameplay and an unengaging story make for a rather dull experience. Still, costing one fourth of the price of Pokémon (in my regional currency) does make Nexomon a fairly compelling alternative. If you’re looking for more of the same and need a Pokémon fix you could do far worse than Nexomon, but personally I’d have liked to see it take steps toward becoming a noteworthy Pokémon replacement.