A chunk of the moon has broken apart, crashing to a human occupied planet and causing mass devastation. In this ruined new world, you awaken to do battle with corrupted A.I. as a mercenary in your own mechanised combat suit, known as an Arsenal. Over the course of Daemon X Machina, the story will unveil competing human consortiums vying for power, combating mercenary factions, and an A.I. from a neutral party trying to keep everyone in check.
Although the story does deal out its fair share of intrigue, the strength of the storytelling comes from the game’s cast of characters. The A.I. dealing out missions, known as Four, has enough personality to be entertaining, yet not enough to ruin the belief that it is an A.I. speaking. Each of the mercenaries that join you on your missions fill a rather cliché character archetype, but some of them have intriguing backstories that help to flesh them out beyond their tropes. The way they interact with each other gives you the sense that they have a lot of history before you arrived on the scene, which helps sell the world that has been created. In the end, the story serves its purpose, but although it tries to reach for great heights, it doesn’t quite stick the landing.
Daemon X Machina does a good job of teaching you its mechanics early. In the beginning, you will be tasked with simple missions requiring you to destroy a slew of unthreatening enemies, though eventually the mission variety will include escort and defense missions. Essentially, you control your Arsenal within the allocated battlefield with the left stick, and have access to a weapon in each hand which you can use with the corresponding ZL and ZR triggers. You also have a boost button, which allows you to zip around, using up a stamina meter that refills gradually over time.
You aren’t just restricted to the ground though. A big part of the game’s strategy lies in knowing whether you should engage the enemy in the air, or use the environment on the ground to your advantage. Some other mechanics you utilise are the ability to pick up objects around the battlefield to throw at your enemies, being able to switch your weapons between the four you can equip to your Arsenal, using shoulder weapons such as lock-on missiles, and equipping auxiliary equipment to give you extra movement, such as downward thrusters to give you more vertical manoeuvrability.
Keeping track of your targets can be difficult. Thankfully, there is a very generous lock-on system that allows you to be effective in battle. All enemies on the screen that you can attack will be highlighted by a blue cube, with the current targeted enemy lit up in a red cube. There is a lot going on with the HUD, which is very confusing in the beginning, but as you get used to what you are seeing, everything begins to make sense.
Preparing for battle is just as important as being an effective killing machine. On the battlefield, you will come across broken Arsenals, which you can loot equipment from. What you get is somewhat random, but you can get access to looting not just weapons, but Arsenal body parts as well. When you are back in your Arsenal hanger, you eventually gain access to a shop to buy more equipment, as well as a factory to help you craft more gear. All of this allows you to customise your Arsenal as you see fit, with body parts that prioritise durability or maneuverability, weapons with varying stats, and even the colours of each part of your mech. One thing that doesn’t feel like it is addressed enough, though, is weapon impact. There is an added vibration and loud noise when you fire your weapons, but it still feels as though there is little impact when you hit your target.
Daemon X Machina is a real striking game visually, not because it is a graphical powerhouse, but because of its artistic direction. There is an anime-like aesthetic used, with popping colours contrasting against some drab apocalyptic-centric ones. One mission you will be skating on a white desert with a bright yellow sky and rich red stone, then the next will be in the hallways of a futuristic factory, with lasers from enemy weapons filling the screen. The visuals are paired with a rocking soundtrack, that hits some heavy metal notes to ramp up the intensity.
Those who tried the initial demo and were worried about the performance need not worry. A lot of the issues raised in that demo were addressed, including a stabilized framerate. The game runs smoothly whether you play on the T.V. or on the go. Fun combat and an intriguing story make Daemon X Machina a great game for fans of mechs. Both visually and audibly striking, the game impresses in a lot of ways, though some of its shine wanes towards the end.
Daemon X Machina £49.99
If you’re looking for a game with a fun story, an engaging premise, and focus on Mechs, Daemon X Machina offers a great experience. Both visually and audibly striking, the game impresses in a lot of ways, though towards the end it can grow tiresome.