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Daemon X Machina Demo Impressions
Remember the old words: “I dig giant robots, you dig giant robots, we dig giant robots. Chicks dig giant robots. Nice”. Daemon X Machina was a surprise announcement at last year’s E3, a mecha action game by Armored Core producer Kenichiro Tsukuda.
If you saw the trailer the first thing you’ll realize is that this game has a very distinct look about it. While the mechs have a very Armored Core feel to them, the color of everything from the world to its inhabitants has this much more saturated feel to it. Unlike more recent games that try to go for the gritty, real tone, Daemon X has opted for a stylized color palette, and it’s all the better for it.
Just Get In The Robot
The demo itself consists of a handful of missions, with no real tutorial mission to speak of in the hand-holding sense. You’re free to learn how to control your mech your own way, which is a nice feeling. As someone who only briefly played a demo of Armored Core the controls took some getting used to, and learning the “rules” of how you’re supposed to play Daemon X also takes some time.
I should note that after a few minutes in the character creator (which has my favorite new feature, the ability to horizontally flip hairstyles), the game lets you look at your mech in the hangar and get to customizing it. Compared to Anthem which makes you play a whole mission before you’re allowed any kind of agency with your character, I’d say Daemon X has a better understanding of why you’re here.
Some Assembly Required
Moving around in Daemon X feels great, but some grinding may be required to fine tune your experience. The starting mech they give you is a little to the slow side, but one assumes it has more to do with them teaching you important things like lock-on. The game circumvents the Nintendo Switch’s lack of precision aiming by having a lock-on reticle such that as long as the enemy is within the range, your guns will track the target automatically.
Combat in Daemon X can feel very jarring if you’re not familiar with the Armored Core series, as the mechs tend to behave like weighty machines and are less mash-friendly than games like Gundam Breaker. This isn’t weighty for the sake of weightiness either, as it enforces a certain discipline when it comes to more important encounters creating a very battle when you get the hang of it.
You get four slots for weapons, as well as one shoulder weapon which is its own class and one more auxillary equipment slot. In the demo you only get one shoulder and auxillary weapon, unfortunately, and as for weapons since you use what I assume are starter weapons you’re missing out on a lot of weapon classes, too. These feel good to swap between, and the ability to purge weapons that are either out of ammo or simply unneeded anymore gives this game a good bit of mecha flair.
Huge O’ Boss
The one boss you fight in this game is also really cool, though not without its challenges. It hits like a truck and if you’re slow on the uptake it can be quite a slog to go through. How boss fights work is that you have to target several of their weak points to do any damage. Shots that don’t hit the weak points are little more than scratches, and all the while avoiding the boss’ own attacks.
Despite the fact the boss is essentially a giant Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell, what surprised me is the fact that the jerk is actually quite agile. The game really loves to rub in how good it feels to move in Daemon X, because you’re constantly having to bob, weave and dash towards the boss’ weak points. It has one particularly annoying move that essentially renders the game on temporary time-out until the move disappears, but I’m speculating that this has to do with the fact you can’t unlock beam weapons in the demo.
Overall, Daemon X Machina is an interesting game. Mecha games are scarce in the current console generation, even moreso Japanese action-oriented ones. The gameplay-first approach is welcome, and yet there seems to be just enough hints of world building that might make Daemon X Machina a true gem.
Daemon X Machina is set for a release date of summer 2019 on the Nintendo Switch. The demo is available for download on the Nintendo eShop