Updated: Nex Review

Nex has finally received an essential update that adds an easy mode, tutorial, and in-game hints for your squadron. Although it now takes longer to get into the thick of things, when the game does get tough you will be much better prepared to deal with the fierce challenges ahead.

The new tutorial is not very elegantly written, throwing a lot of information at you without making it easy to digest. It’s apparent this feature was rushed out in response to criticism of the game’s original difficulty, but we’d rather have a dense, text-heavy tutorial for Nex than nothing at all.

More gratifying, however, is the new easy mode, which makes it less likely that a pack of aliens will chew off your face. Your pea-shooter doesn’t overheat as quickly in this mode, which skews the game a little more towards the FPS side but eliminates much of the unnecessary frustration.

Other minor changes, like a few environmental updates, make Nex look even better and varied than it did before. Once you slog through the heavy amount of front-loaded new information, it’s much easier to enjoy Nex now than it was before, which is why we’re boosting its score to a 3.

We’ve played a lot of videogames in our time, including hundreds of iPhone games, and decades of console and PC games. But Nex is one of the most insanely difficult and frustrating games we can remember. If we hadn’t paid hundreds of dollars for our iPhone, Nex would make us snap it in two.

You control a squad of one to three space marines on a derelict spaceship, crawling the halls with a pea-shooter laser that overheats faster than the black leather interior of a car in a Vegas parking lot. At noon, in July.

The point is, this thing gets hot, fast, and you can kill about four sharp-clawed alien velociraptors per minute before your gun is temporarily useless, and that fifth alien makes you its lunch.

Come get some.

To survive the game’s varied mission objectives, like torching an alien nest or sealing pod bay doors, you’ll have to coordinate your AI team members so that no one marine has to fight off all the aliens by himself. To do this, you’ll be giving the marines marching orders, usually telling two to move to a checkpoint while you step in the boots of the third.

We absolutely love this concept’” it’s like the movie Aliens, with heavy strategizing, and just enough FPS action to keep things feeling up-close and personal. However, it’s no fun spending hours on one level because your pea shooter fizzed out too soon, and a few more alien raptors than you could handle stopped by to make a smorgasbord of your squadron.

We eventually got the hang of the patient strategizing, the absolutely perfect precision required for any one mission. You can’t stay in the boots of one marine too long, we learned. You have to constantly switch up your squad’s commands, and memorize the layout of each map. Despite your best-laid plans, they can still go horribly wrong when a nearby alien spawn point randomly goes into overdrive.

Die, cave dweller!

What Nex needs desperately is a robust tutorial, in-game hints, and an easy mode. The instructional video Starbyte put out in response to player complaints just doesn’t cut it. Currently there is the “normal” mode, which is much too demanding, and a hard mode, but no easy mode.

The awful default difficulty of this game will test the patience of any gamer. Often we would despise this game’s grueling challenge. But then, the stars would align, all of our space marines would make it out of a hectic situation with their limbs happily intact, and we’d breathe a sigh of relief as the exit doors closed behind us. Times like these, we really enjoyed Nex.

So Starbyte, please fix the difficulty in this game. The concept, missions, and incredible graphics engine are too good to stay buried under an unfair level of challenge. It makes the game much less enjoyable to be eaten by aliens for the hundredth time, when you’re ostensibly doing everything correctly.

This is a game that in its current state, 90% of players will not be able to enjoy. We wouldn’t have finished the entire thing if we weren’t tasked with reviewing it.

Nex has a lot going for it. It’s too bad, though, that we can’t enjoy it more. There’s a pack of alien raptors chewing on our face, our laser blaster just ran out of batteries, and all we want is to go home.

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