Daemon X Machina's Demo Is Pretty Good

I knew two things before playing Daemon x Machina. First, it has a wonderfully inscrutable name. Second, it has giant robots. The latter part is all that really matters to me — I adore mechs, from Gundam to Armoured Core.

After playing Daemon x Machina’s demo, I’m excited for the full game, even if the action doesn’t quite have the gear-grinding grit that I crave.

Daemon x Machina is developed by Studio 1 and includes a few mech veterans, such as Shoji Kawamori, who handles the game’s mechanical designs and worked on things such as Armored Core and the Macross series.

A demo version dubbed the “Prototype Missions” released on Switch this week. It’s both exactly what I wanted and a little rough around the edge.

You play as a sort of mech-piloting freelancer taking on missions to defend cities and fight colossal mecha monstrosities as well as enemy aces. It’s a pretty standard format, a sort of Armored Core meets Monster Hunter.

Time is split between your home base, where you can wander about and tinker with your mech, and the field. It’s straightforward: Take missions, loot mech parts, customise your robot, and then take more difficult missions.

Whether you’re kitbashing together different mech parts or sitting down to customise your paint job, Daemon x Machina does a good job streamlining your mech building without ever making it feel too perfunctory.

Combat is the game’s weak point, not because it isn’t fun, but because it never quite captures the tactile feel of mech combat. Part of the appeal of giant robot fights comes from the ways in which they break. There’s an intensity to the bodies we put around our bodies shattering and melting.

Games such as Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise from the Ashes captured this by keeping the camera in the cockpit, while last year’s Battletech focused on a painful war of attrition. Parts broke, damages had cost, and there were never clean fights.

Daemon x Machina has the flair of combat you might expect from an anime such as Macross or Code Geass, but never quite finds a sense of weighty danger. There are no breaking parts, and attacks have a limited amount of impact.

Instead, Daemon x Machina focuses on the spectacle of mech combat. Whether that means dashing away from an enemy’s laser sword or picking up a discarded beam cannon to blast a titanic mecha beast, there’s a lot of flair.

It’s a shame that things feel so safe most of the time, excepting moments where you have to eject from a damaged mech and run around on foot.

I have highly specific things I love in mech stories. I love when machines break, I love when the mech bodies we pilot mask who we are, I crave the moments when aces clash until the layers are broken away and there’s nowhere left to hide.

Daemon x Machina’s demo doesn’t quite have the grit of an Armored Core or some of my favourite Gundam series, but when things come together — on the customisation screen or in the field — it starts to capture some of the things I love about giant robots.

Oh yeah, and if you play with Japanese voices on, two rival aces are voiced by the actors for Gundam’s Amuro Ray and Char Aznable. That’s game of the year levels of self-awareness right there.


Comments

    First thing i need is gyro aiming.

    Second is more impact to the movement and weapons. There's no audio feedback, no sense of scale. I want thumps that create plumes of dust at my feet when i fire a heavy cannon, i want landings to be felt.

    The core is solid, so hopefully the window drsssing is still in development.

    It's makes me wonder why nobody has made your basic clear progression open world mech game.

    All i want in life is monster hunter with mechs

    Just that exact game, monster hunter world with mech fights and grabbing parts of defeated enemy mech monsters to craft new parts

    That exact reward loop of monster hunter with giant robots IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

    I dumped it pretty quickly. The movement and combat just felt really awful for a game where that should be the main hook.

    Played it, and deleted immediately after completion. I didn't like it all, for some of the reasons mentioned in the article, but others too.

    huge disappointment.

    Something about the controls felt off. I think it might be the default controls so want to try some of the other options. The main issue being boost as a face button so you can't strafe around while boosting.

    Fighting the boss felt boring. Just move around and keep hitting the lock-on points. No real tension.

    The autofire weapon confused me at first. Wondered why it felt i wasn't really shooting anything when it was equipped because it was shooting for me. The SMG made it more apparent about firing, along with the bazooka weapon. The autoaim within the targetting reticule takes away from some of the tactile feel though.

    Wish they put in a reason in the demo to go out of your mech to see what that's all about.

    Why do we get games like this with so much promise, but with shit controls? It blows my mind.

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