When a top-down shooter like Nex Machina comes along, I’m reminded that even in this age of procedural open worlds and emergent storytelling, you don’t need a lot of buzzwords to have a good time. Its five stages of simple, fast, sometimes frantic bot-blasting can be daunting to the unprepared. But when I got a good run going, the responsive controls and exciting, sci-fi graphics made my frustrations with its sometimes nasty death penalty worth it.
Each stage is divided up into rooms where you have to defeat several waves of robotic enemies, optionally saving defenseless humans to increase your score, before proceeding to the next. The baddies are both visually interesting and clever in their design, and every world introduces new ones so the combat never feels repetitive. Like in one of developer Housemarque’s previous games, Resogun, saving the human hostages adds a sense of urgency and encourages you to take risks and get aggressive.