This is just going to be my impressions of the demo that was released after the Nintendo Direct a few days ago. I put about 2 hours into this game, and while I didn't finish the demo. I did experience a lot of what the game has to offer. Here are my thoughts on that experience.
When this game was first announced at E3 2018, I had high hopes for it. Developed by Marvelous First Studios and published by Nintendo (US release only). There is a lot of talent behind this game like Armored Core series producer Kenichiro Tsukuda. Artist Yusuke Kozaki - who was a character designer on the newer Fire Emblem games and even worked on Xenoblade Chronicles 2. To round out the talent we have Shoji Kawamori who has done pretty much every single mecha anime ever released ever. He has done mecha designs on anime's like Macross, Space Battleship Yamato, and even Eureka Seven. He was also the main concept designer for the Armored Core series.
So this team, knows their mechs and it shows. Character and mecha designs are phenomenal. Voice acting is pretty decent, its not going to raise the bar or anything. But its good. If you choose to play the game using the original Japanese voice actors, you're going to be in for a treat. Two of the rival Ace's (the enemy mechs) are going to sound very familiar to Gundam fans. Amuro Ray and Char Aznable both have voice work in the game as pilots of the enemy mechs.
On a funny note, there is a character that sounds exactly like Lucio from Overwatch. I thought that was hilarious and was waiting for him to say "this team looks great" at every moment. Sadly, I was disappointed.
In the game, you play a freelance mech-pilot who takes on missions to either defend cities or fight other mechs. Its very "Monster Hunter" meets mech game. While in your hub location, you can pick up your next mission, or outfit your character with special augments that allows him to become a better pilot. Think of it like a skill tree. You can pick this augment that allows you faster mobility or you can pick this augment that allows you to lock onto targets faster. It gives the game some much needed depth. Also in the hub world you can tinker around with your mech's parts, even put an entirely different paint job on it. The customization options for both the player and the mechs are really good.
Daemon x Machina does a great job of sorta "dumbing down" the load out process. In games like Armored Core, you had to balance out your energy with what you can equip. In this game its literally just pick the highest number and roll with it. Its good because it brings you to the action faster and with very little down time. Also gone is having to spend resources to repair your mech after every battle. Now the parts you pick up are just for upgrading purposes and not because you lost your right arm in battle and you just can't afford to repair it right now. This whole thing allows you to grind for even more parts and trust me, that is what you are going to be doing a lot.
Out in the "open" world, you are tasked with a mission. While doing the mission you fly around killing tanks or drone air craft with the occasional enemy mech - called an "Ace". Once you down an Ace, you can loot them. But you can't loot everything. You are only allowed to pick up one item from the downed mech, and that's it. I don't know why they decided to go with this design decision, but I don't like it. After you complete the mission a boss will appear in the form of a giant mecha-beast.
The grind is basically, go to mission, loot mech parts, customize mech, rinse and repeat.
Which brings us to the action itself.
The action itself is very fast and furious, which is kind of a its down fall. There is just way too much stuff going on to get a clear picture of what the heck you're supposed to be doing. The Hud in this game takes up a massive amount of real estate. Between your life, your stamina, your ammo, basic commands, and then everything flying around you. Its a little bit disorientating.
As a warning, do not attempt to play this game in handheld mode. Your screen is just way too small to be able to allow everything on it, while also having to contend with allies and enemies. I spent a good 20 minutes chasing a mech around trying to kill it, only to find out that it was an ally and the actual enemy mech was behind me lighting my butt up.
While the art style I think is fine, using cell shading for its graphics, I do think there is a muddiness to it that makes it so stuff blends together in the back ground. The characters them self, seem to have very low polygon counts leaving everything to seem kind of bland and washed out. The resolution isn't very high, so it makes it so you can see pixels and jaggies on stuff. Everything just seems kind of blurry. There is also a lot of frame rate drops in this game considering the graphical art style. How ever those could just be chalked up to it being a demo and not the final product. The version of this demo is version 0.1. This was the demo that they played at E3 last year and making this demo at least 2 years ago at this point. I am sure these issues have been fixed.
Now I played my fair share of mech games, from Mechwarrior to the aforementioned Armored Core series and this game resembles them in mech only. In those games, there was a layer of strategy to mech combat. You could target specific areas of the enemy mechs. They take damage and will eventually fall off. If you target the legs and they take enough damage, it will render the mech unable to move - or at least move slower - giving combat a tactical approach. In this game, you just deal damage over all. It plays more like a glorified shooter in this aspect. You just lock onto enemies and fire away until they either explode or get "knocked out". Even the locking on mechanics in this game took the easy route. You don't need to be spot on with your targeting, just needing to fire in the general direction will almost always warrant a hit.
Where the other games of this genre focused more on the strategy aspect of mech battles, this game focuses more on the spectacle of the battle itself. Between dashing around missiles or dodging energy swords from a giant mecha-beast. There is a lot of flair here, with zero impact. Weapons feel weak and you can't really tell if you are hitting something until it either falls over or explodes. Bigger enemies definitely feel like "bullet sponges" with no way to see how much more is needed in order to win the fight.
The game also plays it very "safe" in regards of your own mech. There are health pick ups - those blue trucks scattered around - at almost every turn. Enemy mechs won't pursue you, so you can break away from combat and dash to any of these health regeneration areas and quickly get right back into battle like nothing ever happened. You don't have to worry about getting pieces of your mech damaged. As with the enemy mechs, its all around damage and not specific areas.
Even if your mech takes a lot of damage and forces you to have to eject from it. Your character is fully capable of surviving with out the mech itself. It almost made me ask myself "Why am I even in the mech if I am one shotting enemies?". There is nothing to do when your mech is down other than trying to survive waiting for it to come back online. I would have liked to see a mechanic were you could damage Ace mechs by finding a weak point and using a grenade on it. Think Luke in his battle on Hoth when his Snow Speeder was destroyed.
All in all. I was excited for this game, as I haven't played a good mech game in awhile and the amount of talent behind this game is amazing. The art style is great and the customization options are also good. But the combat is severally lacking in depth and along with the other technical issues the game suffered from, my excited has dwindled down. All of the things that separated mech games from your usual action games have been removed. There is no strategy here, while the game has a lot of action, it just feels kinda boring and repetitive. This isn't so much of a mech game as it is a Monster Hunter game with mechs. While I can't say that this is a good or a bad thing. I can say that this is a turn off for me.
Fans of the action oriented games are going to love this game, especially if you are into mechs. Monster Hunter fans may even enjoy this game. If you're more of a fan of traditional mech games - Armored Core or Mechwarrior - sorry, this game isn't for you. I'm not saying you won't get enjoy out of it. But if you are looking for depth in combat. You are not going to find it here. This is very "run 'n' gun" style of mech game.
Daemon x Machina is expected to be released some time in 2019 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. You can download the demo right now off of the Eshop for a limited time only.
As always, this has been James with Game Fix. Game on everybody!