Daemon X Machina: Prototype Missions Impressions

First making its debut at E3 2018 as part of Nintendo’s E3 presentation, we now have the opportunity to try out Daemon X Machina for ourselves thanks to a demo on the eShop. Having never really played Armored Core or any other mech game for that matter, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. By the end of the hour-ish demo, I got a pretty good sense of what this game was about and whether this was something I’d interested in picking up someday.

This is a third-person action game where take the controls of a mech pilot. Once inside the suit, you’ll take on missions that drop you into levels where your primary objective is to mow everything down in sight. There are objectives within each level as well, but they didn’t really add much to the action.

Movement is key, as much of the combat takes place in the air. By holding the B button, you can launch yourself upward, before navigating the skies with standard dual analog controls. Pressing Y will allow you to dash in any direction, which is handy for dodging bullets, lasers, or massive laser beams.

In motion, the action looks really cool. Stylized and sharp graphics give the game a distinct look, and the mechs are rendered great. The demo ends with a standout fight against a huge robot that is a great taste of what’s to come.

That said, I do have a few concerns with the combat. There was a clear disconnect between the action that would happen in cutscenes versus what you were able to do in-game. Your squadmates were able to zip around the battlefield and slice enemies in dramatic fashion. Meanwhile, you somewhat slowly float around the battlefield, pecking away at enemies with a pea shooter and launching missiles that don’t give you the satisfaction of hitting something really hard. Having just come off of the Anthem demo a few weeks ago, I much prefer the feel of its flying and shooting action.

With this being the demo, and with the game having a lot of customization options, this might be a moot point in the final product. I know you can increase your mech’s speed and get new weapons, so maybe later on you’ll have a more satisfying kit to work with. Even so, the weapons never “felt” like they had any weight to them. Whether it’s related to rumble, graphics, or sound design, I wish the weapons I did use had more oomph to them.

I also took issue with the game’s pre-mission dialogue, which sees characters talking to each other to set up each mission. Some will like it for being very anime in its approach, but having played a number of anime games in the last year, I don’t think I like that style of storytelling. There’s a standout scene where a mission briefing deviates into a lengthy conversation about physical versus digital media that’s clearly meant to pass along a greater meaning to the player, but it comes off as overbearing and cringe-inducing to me.

My journey with Daemon X Machina probably ends here. Doesn’t necessarily strike me as my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad demo. For players looking to dive in, it looks great, and hopefully with better weapons and mech upgrades, you’ll close the performance gap so that your mech will feel more like a force to be reckoned with. I don’t see how the game’s approach to storytelling could win me over with the final product, but I get the sense that players who like the more Japanese/anime approach to storytelling will eat this up. If you have any interest in this one, definitely give the demo a shot to see if it’s something you could get into.

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