Monster catching has been a rather successful subgenre of the humble RPG. Whilst the genre itself existed while Pikachu was still just a sparkle in Nintendo’s eye, it’s almost impossible to separate Pokemon’s influence. Many games try to emulate Pokemon’s success, and frankly, everything from Monster Rancher, to Tem-Tem, to Digimon has failed to capture that captivating formula in quite the same way. Nexomon, a tarted-up port of a mobile game, seeks to change that.
Who’s That Nexomon?
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, Nexomon fails, like everything else, to usurp its inspiration. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad game, and it doesn’t mean this is a title worth passing up. There are very few games in this genre outside of Nintendo’s niche, so that right there gives Nexomon some appeal when played on the chonky lads, the Playstation, and Xbox.
Once upon a time, there was a big war. Nexomon started killing humans, humans killed them right back. It was a pretty awful time, but after generations of conflict, some humans and Nexomon started to get along. So well, the Nexomon willingly entered into a lifetime of slavery to stop the big bad from destroying everything. They won, even more time goes by, and things start to happen.
You wake up, you go downstairs and a suspiciously evil gentleman is doing suspiciously evil things, and you potter on by as if everything is normal. Just when you think you were going to have a wonderfully normal day, a thief appears and starts assaulting your wheelchair-bound friend, and some Nexoboxes (not making that up) are yeeted in your general direction. You pick your Nexomon from a surprisingly varied lineup of gribblies and kick the snot out of Team Not-Rocket.
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That evil-looking dude turns out to be evil, threatens to more-or-less destroy you, and goes off to do more evil things. That’s the Nexolord. He’s as hilariously edgy as his name suggests. The game truly begins now, and it’s up to you to go on an adventure to capture more Nexomon, force them into dangerous conflicts, and prevent the Nexolord from doing whatever it is he is trying to do.
I spent more time on the story than I had to because I wanted to hammer home how important the story is in Nexomon. It’s goofy, yet serious – charming, yet disturbing. Unlike its monolithic competitor, Nexomon doesn’t shy away from serious topics, like murder. It will often put you into positions where one character or another – usually some sort of demi-deity – is perfectly fine tearing your body apart with tornadoes. It’s not particularly well written and it tends to waffle on a bit, but it’s engaging enough to carry the game.
Well, carry further than the gameplay at least. You see, Nexomon is terribly bland. This is mostly down to the combat which can quite literally be beaten in your sleep. Battles are turn-based and you just wail on each other until someone gets knocked out. There are status ailments, but these can more or less be ignored because hitting something with a big number is almost always preferable.
All A Bit Naff
Elements come into play, such as fire, earth, wind, etc., and these mix things up on paper, but there’s certainly a balance issue under the hood. It didn’t matter if I was weak to an enemy, or if my attack was resisted by a specific attack – most combats ended with my guy one-shotting the enemy regardless. A weird addition to Nexomon is the punishment for doing well. If you knock out a Nexomon in a multi-mon battle, then the enemy gets a free attack. There’s nothing you can do about it, you just get smacked in the face. It’s bizarre and feels incredibly cheap – almost like a way to balance out the combat in the worst way possible.
Catching Nexomon is alright, but it suffers from ‘early Pokemon syndrome’. The genre has moved on. You weaken a Nexomon enough, throw a Nexobox, and hope you get a new buddy when all is said and done. Basic stuff. The issue is, there’s no way to track what Nexomon can be caught where. Nexomon also have no lore, development, or description – even in your Nexodex (not its actual name). They feel more like things on a checklist and less like interesting creatures waiting to be tamed. This is made worse by the lack of nicknames, removing any chance of gaining an attachment.
At the very least, the Nexomon sometimes looks pretty cool. The game as a whole looks fairly pretty, it just doesn’t have any life to it. I got the impression that it was trying to look charming – give the facade of charm – when in reality, it was a bit thin. Battle animations also felt a bit weak, further diminishing the combat. Sound effects followed suit, however, the music was generically catchy. Some tracks and tunes are eerily close to their Poke-counterparts, but it all sounded fine.
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Finally, the game doesn’t feel great to play. This is in part due to some pretty clunky menus, although I found the movement to be particularly unpleasant. I suspect these gripes stem from the game’s mobile roots, but it’s a shame they didn’t do more to improve the game for console use.
Nexomon is not a bad game, it’s just not a very good one. It’s passable, but there are much better games in the genre out there – even on consoles not stamped by the Big-N. Combat is boring, the Nexomon are lifeless and the game feels like a cheap imitation of much better games. It’s worth a look if you are dying for some monster-catching goodness at a low price. It’s the McDonalds of taming.
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