If something looks like Pokémon, plays like Pokémon, and acts like Pokémon, surely it must be Pokémon, right? Yet Nexomon: Extinction by developer Vewo Interactive Inc. meets all those criteria, but it is indeed not Pokémon. Joining competitors such as Digimon and Yo-kai Watch, Nexomon entered the crowded space a few years ago and has just added another entry in their series with Extinction. While the first game was only available on mobile and computers, this one has added current generation consoles to the list. But what is Nexomon: Extinction all about?
After a brief visual introduction which highlights a fateful encounter later in the game, Nexomon: Extinction allows you to select the main character’s gender, appearance, and the selection of your first Nexomon. The stage is set in an orphanage where the main character spent the first 15 years of their life, before quickly being thrown into the life of a Tamer and Guild Member. A quick summarization of the first game and current status of the world pushes the player out into the land where they are free to explore, trap new Nexomon, battle trainers, and take on quests. You will quickly learn that there is a war for power going on and the monsters that scatter the land are in the center of it.
Probably sounding incredibly similar to Pokémon, it is. But Nexomon tweaks several mechanics, tells a very different story, and brings in a new slew of 381 monsters to stand apart from the competition.
One of the most noticeable differences between the two is the art style. Personally, I prefer the art style of Nexomon over Pokémon. It’s more vibrant and rounded with crisper visuals. With that in mind, I prefer the monster design in Pokémon much more than Nexomon. This can be due to familiarity and bias though. The same preference goes towards the music, which varies from whimsical, to somber, to melodramatic. Primarily piano based, the music in Nexomon is more mature and effective than Pokémon.
The writing is also a big plus in Nexomon. You can find funny occurrences like NPC’s yelling at you for barging into their house and breaking the fourth wall throughout the game. But the constant humor comes from your sassy feline sidekick, Coco. Employing a deadpan style, Coco is the funny voice in the room, given the protagonist’s silent nature.
Yet it all boils down to gameplay. And fortunately, Nexomon: Extinction does many things right in that regard. Several tweaks and additions to a tried and true formula equate to a very polished final product. Passive items such as EXP boosters, increased money earned from successful battles, increased capture rates, etc. can be obtained throughout the game, making exploration and quests fun as well as rewarding. You’ll obtain minerals from rocks which you can then use to create cores for your Nexomon. There are four cores you can equip on each Nexomon in your party, providing them buffs. These buffs include increased HP, increased stamina, and a decreased chance of being inflicted with a status effect. It goes without saying that these are an incredibly beneficial aspect of your approach to combat. Another plus is that they are very easy to understand.
Capturing and feeding Nexomon is also very easy to understand, and ultimately fun! That’s a good thing too, because there are a ton of them. As mentioned before, there are 381 monsters to capture in Nexomon: Extinction. A large amount of them are obtainable from the onset of the game too. This is a huge differentiator from the Pokémon games. They typically greatly limit monsters that you’ll see, battle, and obtain within each section of the game.
Doing away with the gradual performance increase from each ball mechanic (standard, great, ultra, master, etc.), Nexomon utilizes a standard, gold, and then respective elemental traps. Seemingly a slight tweak to the mechanics in Pokémon, it differentiates by giving full transparency when attempting to capture the monster. Depending on the enemy’s health, status inflictions, the trap in use, and passive boosts, a number will appear on-screen that gives the likelihood of a successful capture. For a lifelong Pokémon player, this was an incredibly welcome sight.
Despite everything, there are some issues in Nexomon: Extinction that the developers need to address. Some of the Nexomon have names and appearances that are so similar to Pokémon, it’s ridiculous. Goblat is more or less a grounded version of Golbat and Mimorus is clearly a Mr. Mime knockoff. Things that feel charming and fun in the beginning of the game become tiresome by the end. The best example of this is the randomized button press sequence every time you throw a Nexotrap. And even though the story is entertaining and well paced, having to go back to previously explored areas feels cheap. It just comes across as a tactic to tack a few extra hours onto the game.
When all is said and done, Nexomon: Extinction is an enjoyable experience. At times it suffers from having time wasting fetch quests and backtracking, but makes up for it with refined gameplay. Combined with being an inexpensive and non-Nintendo exclusive alternative to Pokémon: Sword and Shield, this might be the best way for a lot of gamers to scratch that itch.
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