- Developer: Marvelous Entertainment
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: 13/09/2019
- Price: £49.99 / $59.99
- Review code provided by Nintendo
A Switch to Flashy Mecha Action
Allow me to preface this review by stating that I am a big Mecha fan, from watching Gundam for years to building model kits; there isn’t much better than watching giant robots fight it out for some grander cause.
Initially revealed at Nintendo’s 2018 E3 Direct, was a new IP from Marvelous. Reception was a little mixed and many were unsure what to expect, but it looked cool regardless. When the first demo came around things became a little more shakey, a lot of criticism cast a shadow on this title’s future. Fortunately, Marvelous took the feedback to heart and made a lot of changes, including but not limited to a plethora of quality of life improvements.
DAEMON X MACHINA is a third-person mech action game developed by Marvelous in which you play as a mercenary who pilots a highly-customizable mech known as an ‘Arsenal’. When the moon shattered, an energy spread across a human occupied planet causing an AI rebellion. As a mercenary, throughout this game you will be assigned missions from various consortiums under the guise of protecting the Oval Territory.
The story is far from apparent at the start, with everything being driven by the varied, yet often cliché feeling, cast of characters early on. The story soon develops it’s intrigue if you stick with it however, with a story of a consortium power struggle and mercenaries with their own goals and ideals. So sure, the story is slow to start, but it ends up very interesting and has lofty ambitions; depending on what you go in expecting, you may come out a little underwhelmed story-wise.
Arsenals, Roll Out
In this game you will be using your Arsenal’s combat abilities to complete a series of missions for different consortiums and rising through the ranks. Piloting your Arsenal on both the ground and in the air feels fantastic, an area that Marvelous really nailed; gliding around on the planet surface or using your boost to launch towards an enemy mid air gives such satisfying freedom of movement. Locking on to enemy AI and shooting them down with the varied weapons available is great fun and kept me entertained for hours at a time. Occasionally however, I did find myself somewhat frustrated by the aiming. With my opponents zipping around me at what felt like impossible-to-follow speeds, thankfully the lock-on system alleviates that somewhat. Missions vary in type, such as escort missions and infiltration, with the majority of early missions focusing on good ol’ AI annihilation.
Shooting down enemy Arsenals will allow you to salvage the wreckage for mech parts and weapons to freely customize and upgrad your modular mech. The customizations vary from weaponry and body parts, right down to the paint job and decals; alongside which, are skill trees allowing you to upgrade both your mech and yourself for better combat and manoeuvrability inside and outside your arsenal. The sheer amount of options can feel a little daunting towards the beginning, but the game does a good job of easing you in to all of it’s mechanics and systems.
More Than Just a Campaign?
The content of DAEMON X MACHINA is not just limited its story mode in the form of ‘Offer Missions’; while that is certainly the focus, there is more to do outside of it. ‘Free Missions’ of a method of playing repeatable missions corresponding to any rank you have achieved through the story mode. Here you can partner up with other unlocked mercenaries and complete missions to gather weapons and earn credits which can be spent on upgrades; this mode does not further the story in any way.
If playing with others is more your style, DAEMON X MACHINA offers both online and local multiplayer in which you can complete missions with others in Co-Op. A nice change of pace if it’s what your looking for.
If you still feel starved for content, lucky you, Marvelous has promised future updates with additional content. The first of which, coming October 10th 2019, is a ‘Battle Mode’ which will pit Arsenals against each other in 1v1 or 2v2 combat. Definitely something i’m likely to come back and play. In November and December, supposedly further updates are expected, offering tie-ins with other IPs (come on Gundam) and additional single-player and co-op content.
A Fresh Paint Job
Visually, the game is a little more of a mixed bag. In terms of the artstyle, the striking and simplistic colours look fantastic. Character designs are good but the facial animations are very lifeless and wooden, they clearly focused more on the mechs than the people inside them visually. But overall, in docked the game looks fantastic with the stunning levels and simple, yet weapon impact animations. Handheld is not so good, in order to play in handheld at a consistent framerate, sacrifices had to be made to the resolution; the edges are very jagged and the quality is drastically reduced, but if you can overlook that, the resulting performance is perfect.
Audio was drastically improved from the early demo. The impact and mech sounds now feel genuinely powerful and satisfying as they should. The voice acting of the plentiful characters is perfectly competent, and the soundtrack is oft jaw dropping (seriously, give it a listen).
Need Repairs or Upgrades?
I didn’t encounter any noticable bugs during my gameplay. Everything appeared to go smoothly. In handheld, other than the noticably low resolution, the game ran perfectly. I did not encounter any frame drops; in docked mode, the opposite is true, visually the game looks stunning, however I did encounter some frame drops and slowdown during some of the more animation heavy combat sequences – so you will have to weigh which is more important to you.
Overall, DAEMON X MACHINA is, to me, a great game. One in which fans of mecha are sure to enjoy themselves greatly. Outside of a few problems I had with performance and visuals in their respective play styles, I had a great time with this game and will very likely continue to play it as additional updates come.
- Varied and mostly interesting cast of characters
- Intriguing story that develops as you play
- Incredible mech combat
- Fluid controls and movement
- Plentiful customization
- Breathtaking soundtrack
- Some may find the overall story underwhelming
- Amount of dialogue can get tiresome towards the start
- Poor handheld visuals
- Occasional frame drops in docked
DAEMON X MACHINA is a fantastic mech game with incredible music and combat that fans of the genre are sure to love, but newcomer’s mileage may vary. Well worth a try if this type of game is of any interest to you.