This is a review in progress and will be updated as we spend more time with Daemon X Machina
Daemon X Machina is pure anime. The character designs, artwork, themes, storytelling… all of it. I’ve never played a game that’s as much like an anime as Daemon X Machina. Developed by Marvelous, it’s hardly any wonder that it feels this way. Especially considering the talent behind this game. Armored Core and Macross are included on the resumés of those who created Daemon X Machina and it shows.
At first blush, I was getting Neon Genesis Evangelion and Teknoman vibes. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, after the moon has collided with the planet, pilots fly Arsenals and battle AIs who have turned against humanity.
The collision of the moon with the planet unleashed a powerful energy source known as Femto. This is the cause of the AI becoming corrupted and also the source of powerful, special individuals known as Outers.
The Outers are the pilots of the Arsenals and are humanity’s last stand against the AIs (Arms of Immortals).
Daemon X Machina Review
The majority of Daemon X Machina is a third-person mech shooter. You’re able to fly and dash, fire various weapons, use melee attacks and use a range of special moves. It’s fast-paced and really hectic. Especially when you start facing tougher, faster and smarter enemies.
Often it feels like a combination of a mech shooter and a dogfighting sim. I found myself quickly moving around (the admittedly small maps) chasing down enemies or trying to avoid damage. Often, I’d get a little disorientated, though I think the nature of the gameplay and the speed at which you move makes that impossible to avoid.
With more time, I’m sure I’d get a handle on it.
When it comes to gameplay mechanics, Daemon X Machine is surprisingly simple. ZL fires the weapon in your left hand and ZR fires the one in your right. The R button activates your boost which is governed by a stamina bar and B is your jump.
Pressing B in the air allows you to fly and pressing the Left Stick in lets you gently float down to earth. L fires off your secondary weapons as well, which for me, is a mounted heat-seeking missile battery.
The AI enemies are pretty weak and easy to kill, though there are hundreds of them. Each mission throws wave after wave of these weak, annoying enemies at you and when they come in such great numbers, they do tend to be a challenge.
The missions are full of gunfire, lasers, explosions and more. Each one is a white-knuckle ride. Although it doesn’t start out that way. The first few missions, while required, as they introduce you to the game, are incredibly slow and boring.
I was actually pretty down on Daemon X Machina when I first booted it up and really thought, it was going to be a dud. Thankfully, after you get through the E Class missions and move up to D Class, things get a lot better. Enemies are smarter and more plentiful. The action is faster and, overall, the greatness of the game starts to reveal itself.
If you do buy Daemon X Machina and find yourself hating it in the beginning, stick with it, I promise it gets better.
As you play, when you defeat the larger, more powerful enemies, they will fall to the ground. You can check these broken machines for weapon and armour parts which you send back to your base for later use.
Customisation and upgrading is a big part of Daemon X Machina. From the hub, where you’ll control your human character, you can access the Hanger. Here, you can edit your Arsenal’s parts, paint job and weapons.
You can choose your Arsenal’s head, left and right arms, torso, processor and left and right legs. You also choose your weapons, sub-weapons and more. Having only played three and a half hours so far, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the customisation this game has to offer.
Stat nerds are going to be really happy.
There are a multitude of different stats that you can change and improve on your Arsenal and you can tinker with different builds for hours. Even better, you can save your different loadouts so you can quickly access them when you want.
Options out the Wazoo
There’s a shop for selling excess items as well as a factory for making your own new ones. You really can make your own Arsenal and customise it to your heart’s desire.
And it’s not just your Arsenal you can upgrade and tinker with. There’s a Lab in the Hanger and you’re able to unlock different upgrades for your pilot. These come into play when you either eject from your Arsenal in the field or your Arsenal is destroyed.
In either of those instances, you’ll take control of your pilot and continue to fight. Surprisingly, they can hold their own against the AI machines, however, it’s always better to be inside an Arsenal.
Inside the hanger, there is also, inexplicably, an Ice Cream shop. Here, you purchase different ice cream cones which grant different buffs for your next mission. You can mix and match flavours and cones to find different variations and the more ice creams you buy, the more you can earn later.
It’s pretty weird.
What’s the Story?
Because Daemon X Machina functions like an anime, the storytelling is just as opaque and nebulous. Things are only ever half-explained even though there is a tonne of dialogue.
Like other animes, Daemon X Machina tells rather than shows but does so in a way that often leaves you more confused than you were beforehand. That being said, I’m still very early into the game, so the story is still revealing itself.
From what I gather so far, there are different factions and groups of pilots with their own goals and ideas about how the world should work. Some align with other groups, while others are in direct competition.
There’s also an overarching mystery that pops up every now and again in cutscenes that, to me, don’t mean anything at this early stage. They are intriguing though.
I’m really keen to keep playing and see more of what Daemon X Machina has to say. It’s definitely got an interesting story, even if, it’s not saying much early on.
But that’s anime for you.
So far, Daemon X Machina has a lot of promise. The combat is a lot of fun and gets increasingly better as you fight bigger and smarter enemies. Especially when you face off against the giant bosses known as Immortals.
The visuals are pure, gorgeous cel-shaded anime goodness. They look incredible in both cutscenes and gameplay and really suit the style of game. As does the awesome metal soundtrack.
I am a huge fan of metal so blasting enemies into dust while guitars chug and vocalists scream, well, it’s a dream.
I’ve still got a long way to go, however, Daemon X Machina has a lot of promise.
Daemon X Machina is being reviewed on Switch using a digital code provided by Nintendo.