Daemon X Machina Review – Developed by Marvelous, Inc., Daemon X Machina is an action-focused mecha game originally released as a Nintendo Switch exclusive in September 2019. Five months later, the game has boosted its way onto the Steam platform, bringing with it many PC-specific display and graphics options that I’ll touch on later. In this review, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Daemon X Machina.
Although the base game is the same, Daemon X Machina lacks the Nintendo Switch’s free, licensed DLC, such as Lancelot and Suzaku Kururugi from Code: Geass, Renton Thurston from Eureka Seven, and Geralt and Ciri from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Daemon X Machina’s backstory, one that involves an unnamed planet’s moon exploding and sending fiery destruction to the world below, isn’t particularly enthralling or detailed, but it provides the sci-fi skeleton that supports the on-screen action. The poisonous, red Femto energy that came from the explosion permeates the “Moonfall” impact area and causes many AI-based machines to turn on their owners.
Daemon X Machina’s story is a bit of a mess that suffers from segments being left on the cutting room floor, poor translation, or just poor plotting. The Femto-human element of the game’s story seems inspired by Gundam and its Newtypes, but unlike that classic anime plotline, the one here isn’t presented cohesively.
In more recent years, the mecha genre has been a bit quiet when it comes to new releases. Daemon X Machina looks to change all that and there is some serious talent behind this game as well. The fact that it is on the Switch is also a bonus, as having a proper mecha game in this console’s library is welcomed.
To understand where Daemon X Machina comes from, you need to talk about the Armored Core series by FromSoftware.
Those games had players undertake missions as a mercenary called a Raven and build their customizable mecha called an Armored Core from the money they earned. The mecha was designed by Shoji Kawamori, of Macross fame, across most of the series.
Moreover, many of the more successful entries involved producer Kenichiro Tsukuda, with the likes of Armored Core 3 and Armored Core 3 Silent Line is notable here. For Answer, the controls and the greater focus on aerial combat are broadly similar. However, the difference here is that many of the same people that made the mainline Armored Core games are present on the team for Daemon X Machina.
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Missions are split into two types; Offer and Free. Offer missions cover the main story and can only be played once on your first playthrough. Whereas Free missions help to supplement the story and can be played multiple times for extra cash and unlocks.
The main issue the game has here is that the missions are far too simple in terms of their scripting, are overly repetitive in their objectives, and are also incredibly numerous. In short, I would have preferred fewer and longer missions with more varied scripting.
Furthermore, the reason for much of the repetition is down to the fact that you have to face enemy Arsenals in almost every mission. This is because there is an enormous number of characters in this game, so to build out those characters, they are almost always present in every mission.
This brings me to the story, which is pretty disappointing. The character designs are great, penned by Yusuke Kozaki, and the voice cast is thoroughly epic, featuring the likes of Toru Furuya, Shuichi Ikeda, and Atsuko Tanaka to name a few. Yet, the writing and general narrative are sadly just a mess. The story tries to deal with the conflict between humanity and AI but the implementation is confusing and unnecessarily vague.
Also, one of the biggest failings the Armored Core games suffered from was a lack of characterization. Whereas Daemon X Machina has gone completely the other way and overdone it.
In the backend, you do most of your mecha customization, which is interestingly done. In that, you can equip heads, bodies, and legs as well as individual arms. Things like generators and boosters from the Armored Core games are streamlined out into the other body parts. Weapons are numerous and you can pack four main weapons, combined with one shoulder an auxiliary. The general customization setup is more streamlined but still involved and complex.
The Specs In The Machine
Daemon X Machina doesn’t require extraordinary PC power to run. According to the game’s Steam page, you need a PC that has at least an AMD FX-8300 or Intel Core i5-3470 CPU, AMD Radeon HD7870, or Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 graphics card, 6GB of RAM, 13GB of storage, and the Windows 8.1 operating system.
Unlike the Switch version, Daemon X Machina’s Windows port has many PC gaming-friendly features. The graphics options let you tinker with Bloom, Depth of Field, Lens Flare, Shadow Quality, Texture Quality, and other settings.
The game lets you run the frame rate at up to either 30, 60, 120, or 200 frames per second, which is a welcome addition. My gaming desktop that includes a 3GHz Intel Core i5-4460 GPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU, and 8GB of RAM pushed polygons between 35fps and 45fps, depending on the amount of on-screen chaos. Those aren’t stellar numbers, but I played with all the graphics options at their maximum settings. Oddly, the game stuttered a bit during load screens, of all things.
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Daemon X Machina outputs at up to 4K-pixel resolution, so it’ll look incredibly crisp on your high-end gaming monitor. As a Steam game, Daemon X Machina supports Steam Achievements, Steam Cloud, Steam Leaderboards, and Steam Trading Cards.
Daemon X Machina Trailer
Weapons and parts are mostly picked up in missions from downed enemy Arsenals, though there is also a Shop available. This setup also requires you to play missions multiple times to get all the parts, as you can only pick up one part at a time. Once parts are acquired, you can also develop and improve them in the Factory. This allows you to get access to better and more powerful parts, which nicely feeds into your overall progression.
You can also upgrade and modify your pilot’s abilities, which is a nice touch but feels a bit unnecessary next to all the mecha customization.
Apart from that, the game looks great and uses some nice cel-shading for certain effects, which gives an anime vibe to the proceedings. Naturally, Kawamori’s mecha designs look fantastic and the smaller scale of the mecha helps to emphasize the size of the environments and the enemies you fight. The music is a mixed bag though and while the backend music is decent, the gameplay score is not at all memorable.
Simply put, Daemon X Machina takes much of what made the Armored Core series work but goes its way to make something new. As a standalone mecha gaming series then, Daemon X Machina has gotten off to a solid start, but it needs more work on the missions and story. It’s not as strict or as unforgiving as many of the Armored Core games but I think there is room for a mecha game like this.
So, if you like to play with nicely designed mecha packed full of weapons and destroy all kinds of robotic enemies, then Daemon X Machina does a good job letting you do just that. So ignore the more casual players out there and try this out, as this is a proper mecha game.
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