Daemon X Machina is one of those Switch games that had me excited initially, but I’d never gotten around to playing. By the time the game’s demo rolled out, I felt like I was already over the experience after booting it up. Despite always wanting more games involving giant robots, nothing about Daemon X Machina really shined at the time. Now that the game has made its second introduction in form of a PC release, I’ve not only been able to learn exactly what makes this game so great, but I’ve been able to see it all at its best.
Originally released for the Nintendo Switch in September of 2019, Daemon X Machina is a third-person shooter developed by Marvelous. Players control their own customizable avatar and take on the role of a mercenary with the ability to pilot a large mech called an Arsenal. Taking on missions, players can earn loot and other rewards in order to enhance their character’s abilities while strengthening their Arsenal as well. Produced by former developers of the Armored Core series, Daemon X Machina has a very similar feel to those games, albeit with a more stylized presentation to fit the game’s anime aesthetic.
Daemon X Machina’s plot is, for the most part, irrelevant. After a moon collided with the planet, the energy released turned all AI against humanity. Now, mercenary groups come together in order to fight and protect all of mankind. While this premise seems promising and introduces a unique cast of characters, there isn’t enough time spent on either of these fronts to make for a quality narrative. I constantly found myself wishing that the game would either slow down to elaborate on the scenarios and world-building lore being thrown at me, or to let me interact freely with a character so that I could understand them even a little better than cutscenes allow.
Unsurprisingly, the greatest update to come to the PC release of Daemon X Machina is the update to its graphics. With resolution support of up to 4K and a potential frame rate of 200 fps, Daemon X Machina looks better than ever before, with smoother gameplay that is always welcome in a fast-paced action title such as this. Even better is that it doesn’t take a super-powerful gaming dedicated PC to enjoy the game’s visual enhancements. A smaller, but also appreciated addition is that the PC version also allows for custom control mapping. On the audio side of thing, Daemon X Machina’s PC port follows the Switch iteration of the game, featuring both an English and Japanese dub.
In lieu of its story, Daemon X Machina focuses on getting players involved in the action as quickly as possible. After creating their character, players are dropped off in the game’s hub and given full control over the customization of their Arsenal. After a couple of rather quick tutorial missions, just about every feature becomes available. Players can select weapons for not only their left and right hands, but for the shoulders as well. Additionally, the Arsenal’s head, torso and legs can be swapped out as well. With different stats equipped to each piece, the varying combination results are nearly endless and help to not only create a unique looking machine but one that can work with different play styles. My Arsenal had a focus on speed and melee weapons, perfect for dashing in and out of battle. When needed though, I could easily switch out for a heavier, more ranged approach.
For as deep and complex as Daemon X Machina’s customization options are, the actual gameplay is fairly simple and easy to get into. Each equipped weapon is tied to a single button and dashing and flying around in an Arsenal creates a feeling, that never really gets old. Daemon X Machina also does a great job creating the feeling of piloting one of these hulking machines. Depending on how you’ve customized your machine, players will be able to feel the weight in their movements, further adding to the importance of building an Arsenal that best suits your own style. This might not seem to matter much early on when only E ranked missions are available which consist of simple tasks such as destroying oncoming tanks, but as mission objectives vary through higher ranks, some changes will likely be necessary. Fortunately, parts can be scavenged from defeated Arsenals during missions and funds rewarded from completed missions can be put towards buying new parts as well. Upgrades don’t stop with the Arsenals either. For a price, players can upgrade their mercenary avatars directly, giving them cybernetic enhancements to grant them new abilities. This feature isn’t quite as important when players will likely spend most of their time inside their much sturdier Arsenal, but it can be useful if you’ve ever found yourself without a giant robot to fly in.
While playing Daemon X Machina alone is fun, the online multiplayer modes make creating your perfect Arsenal that much more meaningful. The game’s cooperative modes can have up to four mercenaries working together to take down giant mechanical bosses or storming enemy camps. The game also features competitive modes, allowing players to have one-on-one or two-versus-two battles, fighting for leaderboard ranks.
In a sense, I’m glad I waited until now to give Daemon X Machina a try as this PC release feels like the best way to experience the game. While I can’t say that anyone with the Switch version is missing out and needs to pick this one up, I would tell anyone trying to choose between the two to go with this one. If you’re an Armored Core fan or just looking for a cool and stylish game centred around giant robot action, you can’t go wrong with Daemon X Machina.