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Nexomon: Extinction Review

Nexomon Extinction

Route 1

Nexomon Extinction, and its predecessor Nexomon, harken back to the DS era of Pokémon games. They offer a 2D, top-down experience, different from the 3D open world Pokémon Sword/Shield, and soon Scarlet/Violet too, opt for. They therefore offer alternatives to Pokémon’s newer entries, for those reminiscing of simpler times and small rosters of monsters to capture.

Whilst most aspects will appear similar: elemental monsters fighting in turn based battles; items such as potions and ethers to recover; Nexomon Extinction offers plenty to set itself apart too. The plot takes several turns, not simply focusing on collecting badges and defeating an evil team’s poorly thought out plan. Furthermore, a stamina system means you often can’t sweep an opponent’s team with one Nexomon. Finally, the game offers a much higher difficulty, including options to increase this further and set up custom game modes. But can Nexomon Extinction be the very best, like no one ever was? Let’s find out!

Elemental Heroes

Taking action against many veteran players’ frustrations, the game wastes no time in getting you right into the action. There are no overly long tutorials on catching and healing your party here.

After some cutscenes and a short tutorial, you’re let out on your first quest with a newly gifted starter Nexomon. Instead of the usual three choices of a Pokémon game, here you have an option for each of the games nine elemental types: Fire, Water, Plant, Electric, Mineral, Wind, Normal, Psychic and Ghost. This choice isn’t too important as starters can be caught in the wild, so I chose the electric type Gekoko. According to the community it’s the most useful, which I agree with given moves that heal and paralyze later on. That said, I’m sure each choice would be equally viable, so pick whatever looks coolest to you.

The addition of the Psychic and Ghost types since the first game complicates the type chart a bit. Previously, each elemental type was weak and strong to two other types each, with Normal always being neutral. I never found the new type matchups intuitive and would often just click my strongest move regardless. As the Maths doesn’t quite add up, Psychic and Ghost are each strong against three other types, and weak to two, including each other.

Whilst the main questline starts off linear, it’s not long before you can explore several different locations of your choice. Only one of these will usually advance the plot, so I just let the game shepherd me along the plot. You may also discover vaults full of useful items which require a key to access as you explore. Frustratingly, said key will usually be tied to a side quest and can be hard to obtain. With no traditional map, it can be hard to remember their locations and backtrack to.

Your Move

As with most RPGs, battles are turn based, though one difference is how action priority works. For example, if an opponent in Nexomon Extinction swaps out their Nexomon this will always happen after your move. Furthermore, as well as Nexomon having their own speed stats, so do the moves they can use. More powerful moves not only cost more stamina, but are slower. This results in a more complex battle system, whereas a fast and strong Pokémon can often sweep an entire enemy team.

Status ailments can also be inflicted, such as traditional sleep, paralysis, confusion, freeze, burn and poison. Some other unique additions are included, such as bound, frail and invincible. The former list can be healed mid or post battle via specific items, as can HP and stamina. Moves can offer other gimmicks too, such as converting the type of an incoming attack, or healing if the opponents move is a certain type. I found myself avoiding these, preferring moves that offered the most damage, or the best chance to inflict a status. Similar to other RPGs, your party members can only know four skills at once, learning new ones ever few levels or so. Thankfully, common NPCs can offer relearning moves for money.

Core Blimey

Fairly quickly, opponents will have teams of 4 or 5 high levelled creatures, and grinding is somewhat necessary. Alternatively, you can hoard money to buy healing items and revives to outlast your opponent instead. This increased difficulty curve is appreciated from someone who has been playing similar games for years now. However, the finale of the game sees opposing Nexomon much higher levelled than your own, necessitating some of XP grinding. Thankfully, XP boosters are items that offer permanent, passive increases to XP gained and are rewarded for completing quests.

Furthermore, Nexomon can be equipped with cores, some of which directly boost XP gained, or copy the XP gained without having to battle. Cores can both be rewarded for completing quests, or crafted in the main hub using easily obtained shards. Cores come in different levels, with higher levels providing stronger effects. Other core types can increase attack, defense, HP, stamina, and resistance to status ailments. A Nexomon can hold any combination of four cores at varying levels, functioning as a replacement for held items. This allows for some individual customization beyond the moves each one holds.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

The main attraction with any Poké-clone is the roster of creatures available. For the most part, there are few disappointments and the designs are fun and unique. Legendries look intimidating and omnipotent, whereas your party can be made up of a variety of creatures. From dragons and demons to pixies and sentient food, there is something for everyone to love. Some of my favourites include the evolution of my starter, Reptomotor, Eqoloptera, an electric bat, and the half-kite half-weasel Sorvian. Some names such as Rust or Moga do little to convey the inspiration behind the Nexomon. Likewise a few designs do the same, looking like an amalgam of several inspirations whilst not hitting the mark.

Catching Nexomon is more involved than could be expected. The likelihood of a capture being successful is always shown, starting off around 20% in most cases. However, this can be improved by feeding a preferred food, inflicting status conditions, or using a matching type of Nexotrap. For each catch attempt, a short quick time event is required, though these are simple and quick, never becoming annoying. With over 400 Nexomon to collect, completionists will have their work cut out for them. Some legendries can be incredibly rare to find, though thanks to a recent update most can be ‘lured’ to make their spawn rates much higher.

Sprite For Sore Eyes

Move animations are also simple given that the 2D sprites don’t move much, but Nexomon do react to being hit. The number of move animations on offer is small, so a lot of fire based attacks look similar for example. Despite this, the game runs quite fast, and only major tamer battles last more than a few turns. Thus, the lack of varied animations is not really an issue.

Whilst not offering any voice acting, Nexomon Extinction does at least tell it’s story through still cutscenes, which are well animated and do a good job of conveying the stakes. Without spoiling too many of the twists and turns, the story sees you as a new Nexomon tamer embark on a mission to quell the rage of the newly emerged tyrants, which is seemingly linked to the actions of other malicious tamers. It plays out more interestingly than the generic evil team tries to control/destroy the world gimmick and was a driving force in keeping me playing. Additionally, the writing is funny and the support characters make up for your stereotypically silent protagonist. This presentation leads Nexomon Extinction to be an enjoyable experience on all fronts, and a world I found myself absorbed into.

Emerald Extras

Since release in August 2020, the game has been supported by patches and free DLC. The most notable of which, released in June this year, added new quests, areas and Nexomon. The ‘Abyssal Tyrants’ DLC sees the player travel to a new island to slay and then capture a new batch of legendries, even higher levelled than in the base game. Thankfully, it can only be unlocked in the postgame, so there’s no chance of stumbling here too under-levelled. That said, even after completing most else before starting the DLC, the level and difficulty spike were very apparent.

Each Legendary needs requirements to be met in order to challenge, some of which were obtuse. Despite this, I appreciated the variety in gameplay, but clearer hints would have been appreciated. For fans of the original Nexomon game, this update also added some previous creatures from that entry, so I was happy to add some old favourites back onto my team. Another much welcomed feature is the luring system, which by combining items, facilitates and increase in spawn rates of a chosen Nexomon that has been encountered before. This made chasing down elusive wandering legendries much easier, and I wish I had known about this before sinking an hour or so into tracking down some of the main game legendries with incredibly low spawn rates. All of this extra content serves to make the package even better value for money.

Final Thoughts

Whilst not as varied or complex in terms of gameplay and mechanics as Pokémon, Nexomon Extinction does provide purist fans a nostalgic return to a simpler time. Perhaps if Pokémon had remained in 2D and not become the media dominating juggernaut that it is today, the differences between the two series would be less noticeable.

Nevertheless, Nexomon stands on its own two feet well, with interesting character designs and variations to the turn based combat. The plot also subverts expectations for a slightly more mature experience, for those of us growing up around the heyday of the monster catching genre of the ‘90s. If you enjoy capturing creatures and pitting them against each other in turn based combat, this is an easy recommendation. Whereas, if you prefer the polish, online competitive scene or side activities of Pokémon, you may find this game lacking.