Nintendo is no stranger to mech games, though no game has since come close to the high-octane, third-person battling and mech customisation of Custom Robo, which has since gained a cult-favourite from the Gamecube era. Daemon X Machina aims to fill that Custom Robo shaped hole in the hearts of Nintendo fans.
Under The Hood
Daemon X Machina is developed by Marvelous First Studio, the studio behind the recently released God Eater 3. Similar to God Eater 3, you’ll be playing a mercenary taking on a variety of jobs. But instead of fighting giant monsters with giant weapons, you’ll be using your own customisable mechs against all manner of robots and machines. The demo, known as Daemon X Machina: Prototype Missions, is available now for a limited time.
In the game, you’ll be playing as an Outer, a human mercenary that can be enhanced with a number of cybernetics as you level up. Helping you out on your mercenary duties is your own personalised mech, known as an Arsenal. You can change every aspect of your mech, from its colours, weapons, and individual body parts. Having a winning combo is the key to winning battles and bring back more money for stronger parts and upgrades.
While the demo doesn’t cover a lot of story beats, you do get a quick glimpse of it throughout the four available missions. You’ll meet your fellow mercenaries, like Artist and Guns Empress, as well as the underlying politics between the different mercenary factions. The story involves rogue AI trying to take over the world after the moon crashes on the Earth. While rogue AI might be the main villains, you do have an AI companion Four who supplies you with mission details and objectives.
The game does have a heavy emphasis on customising your avatar as well as your mech. As you level up your avatar with better capabilities, such as better firing rate or better accuracy, your limbs actually get replaced by cybernetic enhancements. Which makes you wonder if you’ll be a complete cyborg by the end of the game. Customising your mech is definitely the best part, which you can outfit with all types of guns, melee weapons, and more. You’ll also unlock stickers and other aesthetic options for your mech as you complete missions.
In combat, your mech is able to fly, dash, and use your weapons to dispatch enemies. Since the producer of the Armored Core games, Kenichiro Tsukuda, is also helming this game, it’s no surprise that the game feels like a faster pace Armored Core game, with the verticality of Custom Robo. The left and right triggers handle a weapon each, the B button handles your thrusters and makes your mech fly upwards, pressing the left thumbstick makes you descend, and the Y button is used to boost your mech forwards, though it consumes stamina and needs to be refilled. You can collect parts from other Arsenals in battle, with you being able to equip the parts between missions.
Shooting for the most part is fast and easy, especially since there’s auto-aiming. Certain rifles even have auto-fire, meaning that they’ll fire on enemies within range without you pressing the trigger. The controls does have a lot to getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be controlling your Arsenal like a champ. But do beware of getting your mech destroyed, as once it does you’ll be using your avatar on foot. Your avatar can’t do much damage to enemies, and you need to scramble to collect a resource known as Femto to resurrect your Arsenal.
Visuals And Variety
Visually the game is a definite spectacle, the cel-shaded art style really makes the environment and mechs pop. The particle effects are also what contributes to the overall spectacle of the game, with lasers looking like it came straight out of an anime. What isn’t a spectacle is the UI, which is pretty messy, it’s confusing with all kinds of numbers and gauges for enemy health, ammo, stamina and more.
The Prototype Missions shows off the type of missions you’ll be encountering in the full release of the game. There’s a tutorial mission, a mission involving fighting other Arsenals, a city defending mission, and a boss fight. The first 3 missions really help you come to terms with the ebb and flow of the game, while the boss fight really pits a challenge as you fight a giant mech with glowing weak spots. They’re really satisfying and makes you excited the game.
All in all, if you’re a fan of Custom Robo and Armored Core, Daemon X Machina is definitely a successor to those two classics. The demo is available now and Switch owners should check it out while they still can. The full release of the game will be out sometime later in the year.