Gotta catch em’ all!
Everyone’s third or fourth favourite pocket monster RPG is back thanks to developer and publisher combo VEWO Interactive and PQube. Extinction is the next evolution in the mobile series, Nexomon, and makes its debut on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox. The Xbox version, unfortunately, has been pushed back to allow for additional testing and development. Both Nexomon and Nexomon: Extinction have also made their way to PC via Steam. Yet in a world obsessed with catching small yellow critters does Extinction offer enough to warrant catching them all?
Before we start, let’s address the Phanpy in the room.
Anyone who has seen the trailer (above) or screenshots of either Nexomon game will see a striking similarity to older Pokemon games. There’s no doubt what developers VEWO Interactive have set out to create with their series. Gameplay provides classic monster-catching mechanics as a young hero sets off on an epic RPG-style adventure. There’s a fine line between imitation, appreciation and plagiarism but with a global phenomenon like Pokemon, it’s hard not to simply replicate a winning formula. Over the years there have been a number of contenders ranging from Digimon to Yo-Kai Watch and a heap of other niche titles. All looking to take a page out of the Pokemon 101 handbook in borrowing its best and worst features and Nexomon is no exception.
The world is on the verge of extinction at the hands of the omnipotent Tyrant Nexomon and only the bravest tamers dare challenge such power to save the world. Your journey begins by leaving the orphanage you call home and signing up to the Guild of Tamers. The game plays from a classic top-down RPG viewpoint as you explore beautiful landscapes and meet the weird and wonderful cast of NPC’s. The visual adopted for this perspective is bright and colourful, characters have a solid super-deformed cartoon feel and the backgrounds are wonderfully detailed encapsulating the ever-changing terrain. There is little handholding and tutorials are kept to a minimum. The first thirty minutes, or so, eases you into the core mechanics and controller configuration as you enlist as one of the apprentices before picking that all-important starter Nexomon. Each of the creatures sits within one of eleven elemental classes that will shape their evolution and usefulness on the battleground. With that digested you, along with the rabble of new recruits, team up and head out to become Gold level Tamers… while saving the world on the side.
The story, for the most part, delivers throughout.
The arc perfectly serves to develop the main characters over the course of the game with several interesting twists, turns and cliffhangers but as this tale is narrative-heavy we won’t divulge details here. Each member brings a unique personality to the group, none more so than Coco who acts as the dry, comedic sidekick and just so happens to be a talking cat. Some fourth wall breaking and witty quips left me smirking during my playthrough. Each of the busy and varied locals teems with life and people to interact with. Most just offer tidbits of forgettable background information. NPC’s that offer quests, side-quests or narrative defining speeches will have an icon floating above their head. A journal keeps track of the latest tasks, split into main adventure and quests. Preliminary, quests will have you trading collected items, or currency, for supplies or undertaking fetch and return missions. It won’t be long before you are travelling from town to town, eventually fast travel points open up saving a lot of time in venturing around the map. Don’t become too dependant on this functionality though as you will miss out on collecting key items for crafting and more importantly, stat grinding. The difficulty level is high and increases rapidly, I spent my first few hours levelling up my party which paid dividends when facing my first true opponent.
Battling and taming Nexomon.
This viewpoint gives an up-close look into the 380+ different creatures to add to the database, hosted in the menu system. It details Nexomon caught with stats and a brief description. The creatures come in all shapes and sizes and are well animated if a little on the limited side. Battles are initiated in several ways, random battles take place after walking through a shaking bush or tamer battles for invading their personal space. A turn-based system is used in battle, your party leader will appear giving the choice to attack, use an item, swap creatures or attempt to do a runner.
Each elemental variant will perform better against another and with a limited amount of health and stamina battles become a tactical play. For random battles pressing L and R simultaneously will trigger the Nexotrap used to capture your foe. This mechanic works well and I enjoyed the percentage towards a successful capture stat given but didn’t care for the final step. A circular display of button pushes wraps around the trap which need to be input in the right order before successful deployment occurs, it is a fiddly task and I ended up just mashing the four face buttons – which kinda works. Defeating enemies will give stat boosts and currency used for buying essential supplies. A light crafting system adds the ability to create further stat boost items that can be allotted to each Nexomon and help in their quest for evolution.
Nexomon: Extinction shows appreciation for the series that it takes inspiration from while delivering an enjoyable story-driven RPG of its own. The world is detailed and the highlight of the cast is Coco. With plenty of quests and Nexomon to capture there are hours of gaming to be had in a new yet familiar world. While it offers little in the way of innovation and the button-mashing catching mechanic is an unnecessary addition, its charm certainly makes for another strong option in the genre, especially at the comparatively cheaper price point.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo
Release Date: 28/08/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, RPG
Developer: VEWO Interactive
Download link: eShop