Make no bones about it: Nexomon: Extinction is about as derivative of Pokémon as you can get.
But does that make it a bad game? Heck no. Nexomon: Extinction might adopt the same gameplay loop that the Pokémon series has made popular, but it does it with a charm all of its own. And can you play Pokémon on Xbox One or PS4? Didn’t think so.
Nexomon: Extinction casts you as a mute orphan who is just about to join the guild of tamers. You’ve been given your very first Nexomon – a creature of your choosing – and with it, the ability to fight and catch other Nexomon. But it’s not all fun and games: it’s a tumultuous time in the world, as evil ‘Tyrant’ Nexomon threaten to destroy humanity as you know it. Naturally, it comes down to you – a complete noob – to save the day. But what else is new?
In terms of gameplay, if you’ve ever played a Pokémon game, you’ll pretty much be able to hit the ground running in Nexomon: Extinction. It’s exhaustingly similar, from how combat plays out, to monster types and everything in between. Your Nexomon evolve, just like Pokémon do, and you’ll find other trainers – sorry, tamers – dotted around the map, itching to take you down in battle. You’ll also ascend the ranks of the tamer guild, just like Pokémon, and you’ll be imbued with the same sort of desire to catch ’em all.
The monster designs themselves are a mixed bag. Some are much better than others, but they lack the iconic allure of the likes of Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Charizard. You’re hardly likely to excitedly exclaim “I just caught a Branipus!” after a battle. But they serve their purpose well; most are obscure and cute enough to get you somewhat attached to your party.
Combat is perfectly adequate, but it has a few annoyances. Despite your party being made up of six Nexomon, only creatures who have actively fought will gain experience. You can equip ‘cores’ to your party, which means an inactive creature will also gain a small amount of XP for completing a fight. But you’ll likely find yourself in a situation where some members of your party have been under-utilised and are therefore very low level. To keep your party members equally useful, you’ll have to make a concerted effort to use each of them fairly.
You also won’t gain XP in a fight where you’ve caught a wild Nexomon, so you’ll constantly choose whether you want to add a new monster to your collection or bolster the strengths of your current party. Balancing both can feel like a chore.
Despite these nitpicks though, there’s a lot to love about Nexomon: Extinction. There’s all the charm of an old-school RPG adventure here. It’s a beautiful looking game; colours pop off the screen and the 2D hand-drawn animations instantly suck you in. It’s a world that begs to be explored. There are treasures hidden everywhere, tonnes of NPCs to meet, over 300 different types of Nexomon to fight and collect, side quests to complete and secrets to uncover. You can stick to following the main quest line of course, but there’s a heck of a lot to enjoy outside of it.
There’s a decent story to follow too, which is helped along by what is perhaps my favourite thing about Nexomon: Extinction: its fourth wall-breaking humour. You’re accompanied on your journey by a feline companion who goes by the name of Coco. Irresistibly deadpan, Coco punctuates just about every conversation in the game with gags and one-liners, many of which talk about the fact they’re merely characters in a game. It’s unusual for a game to be so casually self-aware, and it’s impossible not to chuckle every now and then.
There’s also the fact that Nexomon: Extinction costs just £17/$20 digitally – less than half the price of its more well-known counterpart. There’s a heck of a lot of game here for such a budget price. Its world might not be the largest, but there’s tens of hours of exploring, combat and story on offer. It’s excellent value for money.
Perhaps Nexomon: Extinction will always live in the shadows of the Pokémon series, but it has enough of its own personality to stand on its own two feet. Its world is beautiful, its story is humorous and captivating, and its budget price makes it an absolute steal. When you’re done with the Kanto and Galar regions and everything in between, you might find the world of Nexomon surprisingly charming.