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I try to judge games by their own merits but Nexomon: Extinction is such an unabashed clone of Pokemon it's hard to ignore. Everything from the grass patches, rival tamers, monsters, and combat are almost exactly the same. There is even a psychic mime to catch. The question is, however, are the aspects borrowed from Pokemon done well and does Nexomon bring enough of its own ideas to make a good game?
The key to this genre is the monsters and it is here that Nexomon shines. There are almost 400 different monsters to collect and fight with. There's a lot of variety in the monster designs, each one unique and colorful. The animations are simple but breathe life into the monsters, giving them personality and making some absolutely adorable. Fights are one on one and follow a basic rock, paper, scissors style with some elements being strong, weak or neutral against each other. There are many attacks and buffs your monsters can learn with varying stamina costs, power, status effects, speed, accuracy and critical rates.
Combat, unfortunately, is where the gameplay suffers a little. The loop of fight a couple bosses, grind for an hour, fight more bosses gets tedious. It's normal for an RPG but there isn't much variety. The entire world level increases when you progress the story causing a difficulty spike if you do too much of it at once. Then, once you've completed the story, there's not much else to do beyond filling out the Nexomon database. While catching every monster is addictive and enjoyable, I would have liked further challenges, missions or even multiplayer. A lot of the skills, especially the buffs, seem suited for multiplayer but there is none. This makes catching extra monsters mostly pointless and you can just power through the game with a handful of starting ones. The other complaints I have are the bugs. At release the game lagged horribly in areas and often had screen tearing and frame rate issues. For the most part these have been fixed with patches, but it still stutters occasionally and I have had full crashes multiple times.
And so we are brought back to my original question, does Nexomon: Extinction do enough to justify the purchase? Yes, but it depends. If you love to "catch 'em all" or, like me, play on a PS4 and don't have other options then go for it. There are some good ideas here around capturing monsters, the story is fun, twisty, and humorous, and the creature designs are top notch. The main issue is that everything is still just Pokemon-lite. That's not necessarily a bad thing and I really enjoyed my time with Nexomon despite all the issues, it's just hard to recommend over other similar games.