A messy story and messy inventory management keep Daemon X Machina from skyrocketing.
In this Daemon X machina review, Randolf pulls out his toolbox to carefully check the mech. A major shift is needed.
With the recent release of Neon Genesis Evangelion on Netflix and the subsequent relaunch of the Mecha genre to mainstream media, launches Daemon X Machina for the Nintendo Switch in a favorable period. In the action game from Japanese developer Marvelous, you ride a similar robot. You raze your opponents with emergency speed and after the confrontation the surrounding buildings crumble due to the devastating attacks that fly back and forth. What you know about the countless anime titles you play again in Daemon X Machina. With the difference that you are now fully responsible for the appearance and equipment of your robot.
In Daemon X Machina, you play as a cyborg-like Outer and his own robot, also known as Arsenal. The post-apocalyptic world is threatened by malicious AI, and to protect humanity, various factions have been established, each with their own mercenaries and often hidden agendas. Enough ingredients for a strong story, full of political intrigue and interesting questions about the dangers of artificial intelligence. At least on paper. Because in practice, the plot turns out to be one of the weak points of the game.
This is mainly due to the way the story is presented. For example, dialogue during missions in the heat of the moment is difficult to follow. Outside of combat, you’ll be presented with wooden cutscenes, boring voice acting, and chunks of text that speed up the fast-paced action. There is also little logic. It quickly becomes clear that the AI that provides missions can also get corrupted, as it continues to pit factions against each other. The characters notice this and don’t bother fighting with each other. In times like these, you can only shrug your shoulders and do whatever the game tells you no matter how absurd your goals are.
The personalization of your robot plays an important role and is partially successful. There are dozens of weapons to collect, five of which you can carry on missions: two in your hands, two spare weapons on your back, and one on your shoulder. These range from laser pistols and sniper rifles to swords and shields to heat-seeking missiles … New equipment is acquired by stealing it from downed opponents. Just like in Monster Hunter, this is expressed in an addicting pace of fighting, collecting and testing your new toys. One of the strengths of Daemon X Machina is to experience different charges in this way.
The idea is also that some missions with certain weapons are easier to accomplish. Large open spaces lend themselves better to snipers while you better bring a shotgun indoors. Over time, you just notice that your gear doesn’t really make a big difference. After ten hours of play, you’ll be as good with the standard machine guns you started out with as with your new weapons. Keeping your inventory is also a real drain on your concentration. With vague names like HAP-GL-H01 Goliath and SAP-ST-R01 Stiletto, it’s hard in your bulging arsenal to distinguish all of your options. Unfortunately, a weapon or piece of armor cannot be upgraded while you are already wearing it. You must then exit the upgrade menu to equip something else. Try to keep the preview again.
The gameplay is very similar to the Monster Hunter series. You select missions from a menu, then return to the hub to tinker with your mech. Producer Kenichiro Tsukuda wants to make you feel like you’re part of your Arsenal, and it has worked well. For example, the designs come from veteran dude Shoji Kawamori (Macross, Eureka Seven, Escaflowne). He knows all too well how to convey a steel giant as crass as it is elegant. One instant you are a pounding monster, the next you hit top speed and explode in the air. You feel like a mean nasty pilot at these times.
In addition, there are many variations in your objectives and the associated environments, such as escorting a freighter over a stormy sea, defending buildings against meteor showers, or infiltrating on foot. from an enemy base. The unique Daemon X Machina aspect that you can remove from your robot whenever you want, for example to set up traps, just adds to the variation. While you can be extremely vulnerable, it’s a fitting move for manufacturers to emphasize the human-machine connection. This element lacks depth, however, as fights never demand the extra tactical depth that the sortie can bring. You are only in control of your exterior when there really is no other way, such as when history forces you to leave your arsenal. What makes the game unique is only half successful.
Daemon X Machina regularly gets in his way. The action is too often interrupted by long dialogues on meaningless topics and you miss out on the benefits of customizing your Arsenal. This makes the messy inventory all the more striking. Expanding your mech will bother you, which is such an important part of the game. Flying in your robot and shooting enemies from the air is definitely entertaining due to the spectacular action, especially because it there are many variations in environments and purposes. But because you lose interest in the overall story and customization of your robot, the grind hits fast. So you can leave these robots in the garage.
For this Daemon X Machina review, Randolf played on a Nintendo Switch.