At this point, Pokemon set the stage for the monster catching and fighting RPG genre, but Nexomon attempts to go beyond that. Originally a mobile title, it takes the familiar formula and changes it in both good and bad ways. I can’t say if this game is better or worse than Pokemon; it’s simply its own game within a genre that’s been around for decades.
Yes, I believe Nexomon is it’s own entity. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t borrow heavily from Pokemon. You’re a young Nexomon tamer (not trainer). Circumstances thrust you into a world where Nexomon and humans now live peacefully after an evil Nexomon overlord attempted to use said creatures to thrust the world into darkness. You aren’t fighting the town bully, you’re fighting against adults who think it’s okay to burn a small house down. So… it’s a little different from Pokemon.
But once you’re out on the road, it’s back to business as usual. Walk through high grass, battle wild Nexomon and attempt to catch them in star-shaped traps. Hit up each town and battle against the area’s overseer. It’s feeling familiar again.
The initial question I had during my first hour or so with Nexomon was, “When does a reference become so much that the game has lost its own flavor?” Those earlier story beats and gameplay introductions make it incredibly hard to separate it from its Pokemon influences. Even the act of launching a bad guy into the stratosphere is here. Slowly, things start to change and Nexomon finds its place as an individual game.
This is where I start to feel 50/50 on the game. Nexomon provides you with seven starter types that you’ll eventually find in the world as well: normal, mineral, wind, water, fire, electric, plant. The variety is impressive and the gameplay execution was okay. While remembering what Nexomon type was weak to another and which I needed to bring out if I wanted to win the fight was initially hard, overall the variety was nice. Monster designs are fun and rather unique. For the most part. Some designs were oddly lackluster compared to others.
The parts that make Nexomon its own game separate from its influences are both fun to explore and frustrating. The story feels more involved than what I expected, but battles then feel clunky and simplistic. Moving away from a pixel art style is refreshing and new, but the narration is stilted and awkward. Like I said, 50/50.
Nexomon is a game worthy of being played and discussed apart from its influences. But at the same time, it’s almost impossible to see this and not think of another game. Despite it all, the similarities and the problems I had with gameplay and design, I still believe Nexomon is a good choice for someone who is ready to take on a new franchise.
Nexomon is available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.