If you haven’t been following Daemon X Machina lately, I wouldn’t blame you. Flanked on either side by big releases like Astral Chain and Link’s Awakening, the game has largely flown under the radar since its announcement. After spending some time with it, though, I’m here to say that you need to be paying attention to Daemon X Machina. The game’s winning combination of vivid visuals and hardcore mech action create an experience unlike anything I’ve played in a long time.
Customization is king
The amount of depth in Daemon’s customization system is astounding. This system feels like it was built for numbers people, as you can easily get caught up in the minutiae of swapping out the different pieces of armor and weapons you pick up to see how they affect your overall stats. In terms of armor, you can select head, body, processor, left arm, right arm, and legs for your Arsenal (your mech). Each of these comes with their own stats, pros, and cons. You can even customize the color of each part separately if you really want to get creative!
The weapons customization is even more robust, allowing you to take up to six weapons into any given mission. The wide range of weapon types allows you to create your own style of play, which is something I always enjoy. I’ve only messed around with the bullet and melee weapons so far, but other types such as shields, lasers, and special weapons exist as well. My favorite combination is currently the machine gun and the bazooka for a healthy mix of slow, explosive damage and fast, chip damage, though swordplay is also quite entertaining. However, I’ve not yet experienced a mission that relies on a particular type of weapon, so you can and should experiment in order to find a combination that best suits your playstyle.
The art of war
Speaking of combat, if you like fast-paced action, look no further. Whether on the ground or in the air, fighting is smooth. This is due to fluid movement mechanics coupled with assisted aiming and the ability to swap weapons on the fly. With so much fast-paced movement, precision aiming can be a little difficult, but thankfully that’s not an issue with Daemon X Machina. As long as you’re within range, your Arsenal will lock onto enemies automatically, making shooting or swinging a sword a breeze. If you find that your current weapon isn’t doing the trick, you can also swap it with either of the weapons attached to your pylons, assuming you have any equipped.
The standard enemies are fairly easy to take down, though things start ramping up when you fight other pilots and bosses. In fact, these have been the most fun encounters I’ve had so far! The one boss I’ve fought so far really impressed me with the scale of the battle. It wasn’t particularly difficult, even if most of my game overs came from this mission. But getting up close to it and bashing away with my blades really put into perspective how massive it was. Other times, I’ve fought rival pilots whose skirmish skills put mine to shame. In both of these cases, I’ve had a blast putting my abilities to the test.
Beauty in chaos
As fun as the combat is, Daemon X Machina truly shines in its design. The environments are colorful and wonderfully varied, launching players into battlefields in the desert, cities, and tunnels. Bright and glorious explosions, buildings that pop against their settings, and the futuristic, cyber-like style make up a dazzling, beautifully chaotic battlefield. The soundtrack, which features hard, pounding rock that perfectly complements the game’s heavy action, is good enough that I’ll certainly be picking up a copy to listen to during my downtime.
A disappointing story?
The one thing I’m a bit disappointed in so far is Daemon’s story, though I will note that I’m still rather early into it. The premise itself is rather interesting: after a portion of the moon was destroyed during a collision, artificial intelligence became corrupted and turned against humanity. The interesting foundation for the story has me holding out hope for later on, but so far, that potential has not been met.
You take on the role of a mercenary – known as an Outer – who fights on behalf of a trio of consortiums, each with their own self-interests at heart. The missions you take on start off simple enough, but as you progress through the campaign, you’ll find that these organizations often have competing interests and will take an active role in protecting them.
More interesting are the different Outers the game introduces you to. Each mission, you’ll be paired with a couple of pilots from other squads to help with the action. I don’t know how big of a role these different squads will play in the story, as so far they largely seem to exist with the purpose of grouping characters together via their goals and personalities. However, there’s at least one (known as the Western VII) I’m extremely intrigued about due to its background.
Between these different squads and the competing consortiums, there’s a lot of room for some deception and intrigue later on. I’m hoping that the story ramps a bit as I get further in, but so far, it is the weakest aspect of the title.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time with Daemon X Machina so far, and I can’t wait to continue my plunge into it. The fluid combat and the game’s amazing design blend well to create one heck of an experience. I hope you look forward to reading our full review later this month.