I grew up watching giant mechs destroy each in other in anime like Gundam Wing, but I only rarely delved into the world of mech games. In recent years, that’s been an enforced change, as the number of mech games releasing has greatly dwindled since the PlayStation 2. The first trailer for Marvellous Games’ DAEMON X MACHINA combined a few of my favourite things – Metal, Mechs and anime – and I was instantly interested in jumping in and destroying some rogue AI–controlled enemies. With a massive range of customisation options, DAEMON X MACHINA is a highly adaptable, inherently stylish, but ultimately average game.
DAEMON X MACHINA takes place in a Sci-Fi future-world where a cataclysmic event has left the planet largely devoid of life; save for the legion of rogue AI–controlled enemies and the few vestiges of human life left. You control an Outer (Pilot) referred to as ‘The Rookie’ who controls one of the game’s highly customisable mechs called Arsenals. For a large portion of the early game this is basically all the context and information you have, as it clumsily tries to onboard you with a tidal wave of control tutorials and world building, leaving little to no breathing room to really absorb what is thrown at you. After that initial slog, the game settles into a nice pace, gradually introducing a wider mystery that is beginning to plague the world of DAEMON X MACHINA. Unfortunately, the story never really gets to the next level, staying mildly interesting at best and often non-existent for stretches of multiple missions.
While its story isn’t the stuff of dreams, DAEMON X MACHINA comes to life through the incredible level of customisation available to you. Your Arsenal is made up of a myriad of different pieces that can be chopped and changed between battles. Each piece of equipment comes with a smattering of stats, from range and damage on weapons, to land/flight speed and durability on armour, as well as other modifiers and attachments that can further alter your stats. Through these pieces of equipment, you’re able to easily customise your Arsenal to match your chosen playstyle or the mission at hand. I personally loved to maximise my land speed and durability, before flinging myself headfirst into enemies with short range guns and swords. If you prefer a more mobile, less durable Arsenal that can fly at the speed of sound, you can do that as well. The customisation options are nearly endless in DAEMON X MACHINA.
Once your Arsenal is ready for combat, it’s time to throw yourself into the massive number of missions included in the game. You’re certainly not going to run out of content quickly, especially if you want to grind out special blueprints from the game’s Colossal level enemies. There are a few different types of missions in the game, but there does end up being a fair bit of repetition as you get deeper into it. Most missions generally contain some element of ‘kill x enemies’ or ‘get to y objective’, but the sheer joy of piloting a giant mech and destroying everything around stops the game from getting boring. The best missions come in the form of set-piece boss battles against giant Colossal Immortals which utterly dwarf your Arsenal. There’s nothing quite like flying underneath a giant enemy crab-like mech and firing missiles into its weak spots. While there are some definite highs though, there are also some terrible low points during the game. Escort missions make a return and are just as annoying as they’ve always been, while the Arsenal-less stealth sections are low points as well.
Throughout DAEMON X MACHINA’s missions, my appreciation for the game’s style grew, even if it didn’t always look amazing on screen. There’s something to be said about choosing a striking art style and sticking to it. The game’s Arsenals are incredibly detailed and all of the different armour pieces and weapons comes with their own unique look and style. Conversely, enemy models are considerably less detailed, and most enemy models are repeated many, many times throughout the game. Your Outer is also detailed and fantastically customisable, but the inherent shininess of the art style detracts in this case. Your focus won’t necessarily be on the game’s environments during battle, but the lack of variety can sometimes be boring, while the smattering of destructible buildings can be fun to play with. As a lover of metal, the high-energy industrial metal – think something like KMFDM, with a more metalcore vocal style – played during the games more exhilarating battles was much appreciated, even if some of the other tracks can be a little more forgettable.
DAEMON X MACHINA gets a lot right, but at the end of the day, there’s enough wrong here to hold the game back from being great. The combat is fun, and the level of customisation is amazing, but the story leaves a lot to be desired, and some more enemy and environment variety would have gone a long way. If you’re looking for a new mech action game, don’t mind the weak story and are happy pushing through the more frustrating missions, DAEMON X MACHINA is well worth your time.
- Massive amounts of customisation - Laying waste to enemies in a giant mech is exhilarating - Visual style is striking
- Story is forgettable and poorly delivered - Lack of variety in environments and enemy units - Some incredibly frustrating missions