Daemon X Machina Review – There’s a god in the machine

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Daemon X Machina is back and this time, it’s no longer a Nintendo Switch exclusive, as it brings its break-neck speed gameplay and lightning-paced combat to life on Windows PC via Steam. But, how well does it translate to consoles? Let’s chat.


Pros:
+Absolutely beautiful at 1080p and 60 to 200 frames a second depending on your hardware
+Visual quality was not lost what-so-ever in the PC port
+Controls are easy to learn and highly responsive
+Audio is very-well designed alongside its graphical elements
+Multiplayer is very alive and quite entertaining

Cons:
-Custom screen sizing and hud placements can be rather overwhelming, but manageable


Since its debut on Nintendo Switch, I’ve continually called Daemon X Machina an Armored Core successor, one that we are lucky to have in modern times as FromSoftware has moved onto bigger and darker things than their mecha-focused franchise.

But, here we are and it seems that there’s still a lot of room for mecha-focused titles, ones that take elements from various titles such as Armored Core and Chromehounds have offered up in the past. However, the story here is different and it’s one that tells of a world recovering from a devastating catastrophe where the moon had crashed into the planet, resulting in a world where a strange energy caused all AI in the world into sentient beings.

With the new and mysterious energy has come to Earth, humanity has begun to harvest it, learning the radiation can heighten abilities, provide new and amazing capabilities with technology, which has lead to a major turning point for the humans that are left. The lasting effect will change how people view the world in the world of Daemon X Machina.

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Daemon X Machina’s the Armored Core you never knew you wanted until now

Daemon X Machina doesn’t hold back when it begins to let players see what kind of customizations the game actually features. From the very start, you will create your mercenary in the passable, but admirably in-depth character creation suite. You’ll pick your gender, hair color, skin tone, and even your character’s plug suit.

Once done, you’ll get tossed into the hub area, being greeted with various portions of the hob that will gradually open up during your stay. You can upgrade your character, edit their appearance, even change them completely or upgrade them with your credits earned between each and every mission. There’s even an ice cream shop that offers various buffs you can unlock as you play.

From this hub, you’ll take on various missions, working with members of different alliances in order to complete the missions that will push your story forward with each and everyone completed. This formula should seem rather familiar to Armored Core and Monster Hunter fans as the formula works much the same. Each mission will offer up various rewards including credits, new pilots to cooperate with and the ability to unlock even more equipment along the way.

To give you an idea of total unlockable items, there’s enough that both producer Kenichiro Tsukuda and mech designer Shoji Kawamori, ensure that you won’t be running out of things to enjoy, as there are over 30 other mercenaries to unlock, well over 100 total armor pieces and weapons to enjoy, as well as plenty more to explore.

Little by little, you’ll become acquainted with it all, meeting each new pilot along the way, becoming associated with them as you do, making friends as well as enemies throughout the adventure. Unfortunately, you might become slowly overwhelmed with each and every mercenary, there’s a lot of them you’ll have to remember, which can be a bit offputting for those not wanting to be overwhelmed.

Don’t worry, when the bullets, rockets, and lasers began to fly, you’re not going to worry about who is who, you’ll be focusing on the combat, which is by far some of the best there is on the market in modern times.

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Daemon X Machina is just as equally fast-paced as Armored Core and other titles in the mecha genre

Unless you’re familiar with Kenichiro Tsukuda, the former producer of the Armored Core series, then you may not be very familiar with the pacing and design of the games. Daemon X Machina is a love story to those games, carrying on similar designs to mechs such as the White Glint, Fascinator, and even Eight Ball.

All of them make small, but noteworthy nods to the games of yesteryear, ones that Shoji Kawamori (Macross) designed to ensure that Daemon X Machina stands out from the crowd. To be honest, it does, and its combat does as well. Controls are straight forward, simple even, and often sees to players playing with a bit more ease than they might imagine.

Whether you use a controller or a mouse and keyboard, the game remains as responsive as ever, easy to learn and openly accessible to players of all skill levels. Once you first hit flight, you’ll find that it’s just a double jump away, the triggers handling your various weapons, D-Pad to swap out different weapons on the go and RB to fire off your shoulder weapon.

Don’t forget that up and down on the D-Pad allowing you to activate different buffs while on the go. The aim-assist itself doesn’t feel off, overexaggerated or even useless, but rather, perfectly designed. It makes for a rather enjoyable experience, one that becomes progressively more intense with each and every mission. Taking on AI-driven mechs, the Strai, make it rather fun, challenging as they come in different forms and different difficulties.

Each one having different weapons, support items, and even different pieces to get such as legs, arms, and or shoulder weapons. You’ll find that some weapons, compared to others, can be rather useful. Bazooka’s, shotguns, flamethrowers, and even laser-based weapons are exactly what you would expect. Bazooka’s making a rather large impact, but with limited ammo, while flamethrowers can take out swaths of enemies in a single jetted sweep.

If you are wondering about multiplayer, just think of it as an expedition mode, one where four mercenaries get together and hunt for arsenal upgrades along the way. Aside from that, there’s really no story to it, just a chance for players to get together and show off to the rest of the community.

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Daemon X Machina’s combat shines, but that’s when its shortcomings begin to show, which is a shame

Combat, as you know, is a blast. Taking on wave after wave of an enemy force is quite enjoyable, but, there are immortals. Massive robots, ones that are hulking tanks of different types. Somes are quadrupeds, others biped, and some even being flying machines while others take on various forms of what the AI wants them to be.

Now, this is where things can get a bit crazy. The HUD is an absolute nightmare. While it worked on the Nintendo switch, it doesn’t work as well on PC, which brings the game to 1080p with framerates exceeding 60-100 FPS on the low side of things. You’ll find yourself tracking multiple health bars, each one indicating just how low an enemy’s health actually is, ammo bars, and even energy levels alongside your health bar can become a bit suffocating when it all begins to sink in.

Indicators such as damage to your mech, stamina levels, and Femto levels are easily noted through the gauges at the top of the screen. It also helps to know what parts of your mech have sustained damage such as your left arm, right arm, head unit, or even if you’ve become oversaturated by Femto radiation.

If you feel comfortable with not having some of those on the screen, you can, however, turn them off, but you can’t resize them, move them about, or readjust them how you want them to be, which is a real shame as even the multiplayer portion is rather fun and quite difficult for that matter.

That doesn’t change how good the game looks, how solid it performs or how amazing the voice acting actually is. You won’t be disappointed with what Daemon X Machina has to offer. If it plays like this on PC, I can only imagine what it would be like on PlayStation 4 and or Xbox One.

Performance is key in the PC build of Daemon X Machina

When we think PC ports, we often think about games getting hit at the knees, tumbling downward and crawling along the ground. It’s a common issue that ported games tend to see, making it a bit of a definitive edition of the game itself. Performance is rather solid, especially at 1080p when it comes down to ensuring the best graphics possible alongside performance goals at 1080p or higher resolutions than the Switch version.

Graphics actually don’t take a hit, but rather, they feel upgraded in the Switch build of Daemon X Machina, allowing the game to run as smooth as possible, but also, to stand out the most. You’ll find that some of the cel-shaded scanlines are gone, allowing facial features, character details, and shadows to really stand out, bringing the game to life as it looks more like a full-feature anime versus a manga.

The same goes for every piece of the game whether it’s the metallic shine of an Arsenal (mech) or the docking bay itself. Cutscenes also shine and carry on with how the overall game looks. It’s eye candy of the best kind and one you’ll have to experience to enjoy outside of the cluttered-up hud.

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The Conclusion – An immortal start to an immortal franchise

When said and done, Daemon X Machina doesn’t feel the same on the Nintendo Switch when you jump onto the PC build of the game. To put it bluntly, Daemon X Machina is huge, it is destructive, and it’s a visual treat of the interactive kind. Just trust me when I say this: You’ll find the game to be more expansive than you’d ever have imagined.

Daemon X Machina
Platforms: 
PC and Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: 
PC
Developer:
Marvelous Inc., FIRST STUDIO
Publisher:
XSEED Games
Release Date: 
Available Now
Cost:
$59.99

Shortcomings aside, Daemon X Machina is exactly what you would hope it would be on PC, which doesn’t fall short of everything you’d want from an Armored Core successor. If you min-max the hud, get it set up how you want, the game itself is even more enjoyable than before, it’s absolutely marvelous as some might say.


Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.


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About the Writer(s):

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable.  You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!

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