Daemon X Machina (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 21.09.2019

Review for Daemon X Machina on Nintendo Switch

Sometime in the future, the Moon is struck by a neutronic pulse. Instantly, a massive chunk is torn off, causing it to collide with the planet. In what can only be described as an "Extinction level event," mankind was almost entirely wiped out. Although they were able to recover and start the rebuilding process, a new threat has emerged. A rogue AI has gained control of an armada of robots. Armed with the latest in high-tech weaponry, they're liable to finish what the Apocalypse started. In response, an immediate call was made for the construction of Arsenals. Seeing as how you're piloting one of these mechs, that makes you humanity's last hope.

From the brilliant minds that brought you the Armored Core series, comes Daemon X Machina. Take control of a mercenary and engage in countless missions. Master both land and air with the help of your Arsenal, an ultra-powerful and highly-customizable mech. Over the course of your piloting career, you can expect to take on both enemy AI units, and rival consortiums. The 'MoonCrash' gave rise to numerous nation-states, and they're all after the largest piece of the pie. While the preservation of humanity is important, everyone is still trying to make a profit. Take advantage of the constant battles, then, to earn lots of credits, and then build an unstoppable machine.

This is essentially what "Comfort Gaming" is all about. Players aren't held to any real obligations. There aren't severe penalties for failure, and the level of difficulty rarely demands more than a basic level of competency. Just as long as one understands the basic mechanics, they'll make a lot of progress in a short time. Yes, there is some repetition involved. Most missions are typically a matter of destroying everything in sight. Other tasks, such as delivering important resources or protecting bases, aren't particularly tough to get through. Also, while there are benefits to min-maxing your Arsenal's weaponry and armour, it doesn't have to be something to obsess over. No matter how inefficient your build turns out, you'll be fine, as long as you make up for it with skilful play.

All that said, it would be a lie to claim that piloting an Arsenal doesn't require any effort. Entries in the Mech-Action genre are few and far between for a reason. Most developers, let alone players, struggle with essential aspects such as movement and camera functionality. A piece of machinery that weighs several tons, but is also capable of incredible speeds, must perform in a manner that's respectful of those characteristics. Furthermore, a mech's advantages or limitations don't matter if the pilot can't adequately track what's going on around them. Enemies can and will attack from any angle. In order to ensure that the game stays entertaining, an extremely tricky balance has to be maintained. Success must feel "earned," but never to the point where it scares players away.

Screenshot for Daemon X Machina on Nintendo Switch

Thankfully, it is in these aspects that Daemon X Machina is a considerable success. Grasping the basics of Arsenal control is endearingly simple. Utilizing the boost to pursue adversaries or evade their fire is very satisfying. There's enough flexibility on the battlefield to make most any strategy a viable one. Speaking personally, this pilot prefers a combination of assault rifles and machine guns to tear through everything at range. The follow-up is a stamina-draining flamethrower, and then finally a hull-shattering club. Stamina governs everything from boosting to flight. If that's exhausted, then the Arsenal becomes a sitting duck. Other pilots might prefer to use sniper rifles, explosives, or even a pair of swords. There are a lot of options to play around, provided one is able to find them all.

Acquiring gear is handled in a simple yet very addictive manner. During missions, there are numerous bouts with Arsenals, both AI and NPC-controlled. Defeating these adversaries will allow players to choose one piece of equipment from their remains. This includes, but isn't limited to, weapons and armour. Armour determines the Arsenal's VP (vitality), as well as other essential attributes, such as boost-speed and weapon-strength. Building that ideal mech isn't just a matter of finding the right guns. Attachments are also quite common. They apply numerous buffs to the armaments that they're attached to. Finding the right combination is left up to the player. Thankfully, there's a training mode as well as free missions to get a feel for their build.

For some players, all this might not be enough. After all, being human is a limitation within itself. Thus, it may be necessary for the player-character to undergo augmentations. Replacing a limb can allow for a more efficient link between the pilot and their arsenal, and increase its offensive capabilities. Tracking enemy AIs is a trivial matter, but there's always room for improvement. Swap out those tired human eyes for something a little more high-tech, which will subsequently boost your tracking capabilities. Bear in mind however that these upgrades are expensive. Furthermore, there are limits to how much a body can be modified. In other words, think of this as your secondary build, a method for enhancing your favourite fighting style.

Screenshot for Daemon X Machina on Nintendo Switch

Turning into a cybernetic monstrosity has its benefits, but some pilots may become nostalgic for their original form, or want to choose a different set of skills. For a modest fee, all of their flesh can be restored. Unfortunately, there's a rather large catch. All of those cyborg parts can't be refunded. Yes, if you're not satisfied with your current skillset, you will have to come up with hundreds of thousands of additional credits to try something else. That puts a very unfortunate damper on experimentation. Needless to say, you'll want to plan out your upgrades in advance. Ideally, there would be a part buyback program that softens the blow, but it's not an insurmountable issue. Just one thing though. One of the upgrades allows pilots to replenish their Arsenal's VP by "hand." Learn from this critic's mistake, and just skip that upgrade entirely. It's not worth it.

Among the standard missions are climatic encounters with automated beings known as "Immortals." These behemoths utilize a wealth of techniques to crush any Arsenals that approach. Destroying them is usually just a matter of unearthing their weak-points, while avoiding whatever attacks that they might respond with. Their immense size and surprising manoeuvrability tend to make for thrilling battles. Sliding underneath a Gunfort's laser cannon, while pelting it with bullets, is pretty fun. Aerial duels with the aggressive Nightmare are also quite neat. Clobbering the giant Rebellion with its own sword? That's just plain awesome.

There is however just one massive exception: the final boss. Once you reach the battle that determines the fate of the world, immediately return to base and choose different weapons for your Arsenal. Heed the following suggestion: two blades, a shoulder unit that restores VP, and some armour that can take a lot of punishment. If you decide against this strategy, then expect the suffering to be immense. This is quite possibly the worst boss of 2019. Simply keeping track of the foe is a constant aggravation, never mind its excessively powerful lasers. It has mountains of hit-points, rendering most weapons entirely unviable. There is an environmental gimmick that can deal impressive amounts of damage, but good luck landing it with any consistency. If there wasn't a sure-fire method for cheesing this awful encounter, then Daemon X Machina would be ruined. Indeed, it's really that bad.

Screenshot for Daemon X Machina on Nintendo Switch

Of course, a terrible final boss isn't the only issue that this game suffers from. The frame-rate tends to be problematic. Intense fire-fights frequently cause the FPS to drop into the teens. Thankfully, these drops never result in deaths, but they're a headache all the same. Also, enemies and weapons stick a little too close to genre conventions. Expect to deal with a lot of tanks and drones, as well as standard munitions or homing missiles. There's not a lot of creativity on display here. On the other hand, this might've been because the developers were intent on making sure that the fundamentals were sound. This makes it easier to forgive the lack of truly unique adversaries.

This features a wealth of missions divided among a series of ranks. Jumping from D rank to C rank would lead one to believe that this also means an increase in difficulty. More often than not however, that isn't the case. Once you get a handle on the basics and an eye for gearing up, you'll coast through almost every mission in record time. On the bright side, you're also not forced to constantly search for upgrades like some sort of MMORPG. The grind is kept to a minimum, which makes for a more accessible and entertaining venture.

As far as multiplayer goes, this title delivers. There are numerous cooperative missions, and they allow up to four players to team up. Instances of noticeable lag are very infrequent. There's also a basic chatting system that allows those of different nationalities and languages to communicate with one another. Just bear in mind that four halfway competent allies can feel a little overpowered. In the bulk of this critic's online interactions, the four-mech crew stomped everything outside of Immortals in no time at all. Still, there's a lot of fun to be had here. A versus mode is also in the works, which should be quite interesting.

The average play-through, leaving room for at least a little bit of side-content and cooperative-play, will take about 15 hours. Naturally, attempting to complete every task, as well as obtaining all of the equipment, will dramatically increase the time spent. All in all, Marvelous did a remarkable job. Another layer of polish would've been greatly appreciated, but what's there is really good. Customizing mechs is suitably addictive, and ruling the battlefield is rewarding in itself.

Screenshot for Daemon X Machina on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Considering the dearth of Mech games, Daemon X Machina is bound to get anyone's attention. Rather than allow itself to serve as mere niche fulfilment, this rises above through a solid balance between accessibility and depth. With just a little effort, you can make the battlefield your own, cutting through countless enemies like… *sigh* a hot knife through butter. The variety of armaments, armours, and skillsets allow veterans to create a thoroughly customized experience. Of course, they'll have to deal with a rough frame-rate, as well as a dreadful last boss. In the long run, those are small fees to pay.

Developer

Marvelous

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Action

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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