When it comes to mecha games, I’m a sucker. It doesn’t matter what platform it’s on; if it involves giant suits of mass destruction, then I’m all over it. When it happens to be more ground in Anime and resembles some of my favorite shows such as Gundam or Macross, well, it just makes it all the more reason to play it. Thus I gravitated towards Marvelous Inc’s latest mecha venture, Daemon X Machina.
Game Name: Daemon X Machina
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Marvelous INC
Release Date: September 13, 2019
It’s been a while since I had the pleasure of playing a mecha game on the consoles, with the last one being Armored Core: Verdict Day back during 2013. Since then, I had been hoping that Fromsoftware would finally give us another go in the series. Which never materialized, much to my disappointment. Thankfully, Marvelous game knocking a few months back and had revealed Daemon X Machina for the Switch. Along with having some notable talent to work on the game, Kenichiro Tsukuda, who worked on several previous Armored Core games, and Shōji Kawamori from Macross (anime) fame. With those two on board, I was hoping that DXM would be special. It turns out it is, for those mecha fans such as myself.
A little planet known as Earth is having a terrible time when the Moon decided it would smack right into the planet in the far-off future. As a result, things got really strange, really fast. AI-controlled vehicles and weapons suddenly were taken over by a threat known as the Immortals. While a select number of humans realized they became something more and started calling themselves Outers. As an Outer, they stand as the last line of defense to help protect the planet, fight back these Immortals and try to figure out who’s behind this Moon crash. You happen to play as one of the Outers, yet you are special. Everyone in the game either loves you, hates you, or has some special interest in you; you’re everyone’s favorite. Yet, for some reason, they keep calling you “Rookie.”
As soon as the opening introduction is over, you’re dumped into the thick of it. You’ll be paired up with a pair of teammates and tasked with checking out a random battlefield and briefed by a female AI called Four. Four knows everything, handles all missions, and overviews everything there is. I’m honest; it is a bit creepy. But everyone trusts her, so you should as well. Four breaks the mission, your teammates ask questions, and that’s that. This is also how much of the story unfolds, as being told during briefings, conversations on the battlefield, or cutscenes. It’s typical stuff here and feels very anime-ish, and despite being a bit sterile, it works fine. Well, for the most part. The only time this doesn’t hold is when you’re in a fit, and a random cutscene pumps the breaks on everything. It isn’t very pleasant, and it breaks the flow of the game.
While your Arsenal is a towering machine, thankfully, it doesn’t control like one. Yes, there’s some weight to give it a realistic feel. At the same time, the mecha is more akin to that of anime instead of those found in a Battletech game. The controls are responsive with just the right amount of delay, and even then, that’s barely noticeable. In a game like this, where you’re zipping around at breakneck speeds, you’ll need them to be when you’re performing evasive maneuvers and feeling like you’re actually in the cockpit. Once you get used to the Arsenal, you’ll be pulling off moves, zipping along, and living out your favorite Gundam or Macross moments. Or maybe that was just me.
You’ll spend a large majority of the game hunting down immortal controller vehicles and Arsenals, though it doesn’t stop there. You even clash with your fellow Outers, thank to how the story places out, and you’ll have to battle each other. There’s also a handful of bosses, called Colossal Immortals, which feel like Monster Hunter fights. Colossal Immortal are huge mechas that are armed to the teeth with enough firepower to put you down hard and fast. Sadly, there aren’t many of these fights. Several types of missions ranging from wiping out enemies’ forces, protecting structures or escorts present in the game. In addition to those, there’s a free mission mode that lets you replay previous missions, which also lets you earn some extra cash and battle data. Yet while there’s plenty to go around, once you’ve run them a few times, they tend to get repetitive and leave you longing for more. Thankfully, there’s an online co-op (local & online) mode that pits you and three others against enemy mercenaries and immortals. Marvelous has also stated that there’s a competitive (PVP) mode coming post-release.
The included online portion works out better than expected. You can either set up a room or search for an existing room, wait for more players to fill it up, and jump into a game. No fuss, fast (usually), and it’s a nice way to earn some credits and parts to outfit your Arsenal. I’ve played over 30 online sessions so far, and they were flawless during the gaming session. One of those did kick me out during the debriefing, but I was still rewarded for my efforts. There’s also no voice comms for obvious reasons, but you can still communicate via preset chat sentences, or you can create your own.
There are several ways you can satisfy your customization craving. First is when you first start up the game, where you get to create your very own Outer. You’ll be able to select several options, from your skin tone, hair, scars, and various other attributes. Once you finish that up, your digital avatar is ready to jump into an Arsenal.
It doesn’t stop there, as there many upgrades and customizations that you can outfit your Arsenal with. So many that I’d be here all day talking about them, so I won’t list them. There are even arm cannons; your entire arm is a rapid-firing weapon of destruction. How cool is that? In the beginning, you can only use the parts that are available in the shop. However, as you continue on, you’ll find that you can also loot the now broken enemies that you leave in your wake. Which sort of turns this game into a looter shooter, doesn’t it? All kinds of parts can be salvaged from the battlefield, some that can be used instantly like weapons, while armor pick-ups can only be added once you get back to the base. In my opinion, finding parts on the battlefield negates most of the reason even to use the shop back at the base. You can also take your parts and invest some time and credits to develop even better parts via the factory. However, I didn’t waste much time with this as you need to have a specific item attempt this. I didn’t even have it most of the time, as I just did my best vulture impersonation and picked the battlefields dry.
Your Arsenal isn’t the only thing that can be upgraded, as your Outer can also be upgraded. Yep, you can upgrade your human counterpart, with those upgrades benefitting your piloting skills, but also for when you’ll need to venture outside of your Arsenal. Want to have better lock-on abilities, then out with those weak human eyes. Upgrade those wimpy arms for a health bonus and so forth. It’s an interesting take, and I rather enjoyed upgrading my fleshy body to squeeze out some extra performance from my Arsenal. I hope other developers take notice of this.
There’s plenty here, yet I do have a gripe with the customizations for the Arsenal. No matter how you change it up, it doesn’t change the overall characteristics of the mecha. It will always big a giant machine of destruction, but you can swap your legs for tank legs, quad legs, or make any other outrageous changes. This is something that I enjoyed doing in Armored Core, and it’s sorely missed here.
Visuals & Sounds
Visually, Daemon X Machina looks stellar, well, for a ravaged Earth and all that. The Arsenals and the Outers designs are top-notch, and the devastated landscape exhibit a stylish art style. It’s a sharp presentation, and everything here screens quality. It’s easily one of the better-looking games on the Switch, in my opinion. Just watching this game in motion brings much joy to this mecha fan.
The sound department rivals the visuals. Mainly thanks to the rocking techno-rock soundtrack, produced by Junichi Nakatsuru and Rio Hamamoto. I could listen to this all day. While every character conversation has been voiced, the dialogue was pretty good; I wasn’t expecting that. The sound effects get the point across just fine, with plenty of explosions and conveying the battle cries that only giant mechas could make.
That all said, I do have an issue with Daemon X Machina. While the Switch does an admirable job with run the game, there are too many areas and segments where the framerate drops out and drops out hard. While the game runs at a respectable 30 frames per second when docked, it doesn’t always stay that way. When multiple enemies, other Arsenals, or an Immoral Colossal fill the screen, the frame rate takes a hit. It doesn’t detract from action that’s unfolding around you, but it is noticeable. There’s also an issue where the camera occasionally pulls back too far and ends up changing the third-person perspective to a first-person perspective.
Is that a Doggo in the game?
Yes, there is a cute doggo in the game. However, for some reason, you can’t pet it. So it just sits there, looking at you with those puppy dog eyes, making you feel bad. Why can’t we pet the dog?
Are you Mecha enough?
If you’re a fan of mecha games and you’ve been craving for one to emerge from the forgotten battlegrounds finally, then you’ll enjoy Daemon X Machina. Lots of parts to modify your Arsenal and plenty of missions to satisfy that mecha fantasy of yours. While not perfect, this is as close as we’ve seen or likely will get regarding a console mecha game. However, if you aren’t a fan of mecha games, I can’t recommend you pick this up, but you might enjoy the game if you do. This is as niche as it gets, and there’s nothing here that will grab your fancy otherwise. This game caters to a specific crowd, and Daemon X Machina does not claim to be anything other than a love letter to a forgotten genre.
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Fans of the mecha game genre finally have a reason to rejoice as Daemon X Machina is just what the doctor ordered. Lots of mecha on mecha action, tons of customization options and despite some shortcomings, this is the best Mecha game available on the consoles. If you enjoy these sorts of games, definitely don’t pass this up.
- The soundtrack is amazingly good
- Fast and frantic mech on mech combat
- Loving the sheer amount of stuff that you can customize
- Framerate drops when multiple things are on screen
- Mission hub isn’t used to its potential
- Immortal colossal are bullet sponges