•Developer: Marvelous! First Studio •Publisher: Nintendo •Platform: Nintendo Switch •Release Date: September 13th, 2019 •Price: $59.99 •Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch •Review Code Provided: No So I’m gonna come clean right […]
•Developer: Marvelous! First Studio
•Platform: Nintendo Switch
•Release Date: September 13th, 2019
•Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
•Review Code Provided: No
So I’m gonna come clean right now, before I start. I don’t consider myself a mecha fan. Not because I hate mecha or anything, I just haven’t interacted with it before this game. That said, DAEMON X MACHINA had me absolutely captivated from the moment it was announced on June 12th, 2018. It was such an incredibly strange-looking game that kicked off the same Nintendo Direct where the infamous “Everyone Is Here” line for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was shown, and even at that moment, I was thinking more about that DAEMON X MACHINA game than the new Smash Bros. It was easily my most hyped game from that presentation.
15 months and one day later, the game launched. I didn’t care that it was being forgotten about by Nintendo fans and bombarded as a mediocre, clunky, slow game. I stuck to my guns and kept believing in this game. Because I wasn’t about to let some naysayers get in the way of my excitement. And after all that hyping up for well over a year…
…I’m happy to report that DAEMON X MACHINA didn’t disappoint me!
For those of you outside of the loop, DAEMON X MACHINA (which I’ll shorten to DXM from here on out) is a rare breed in today’s world – a mech action game in 2019. Armored Core ring any bells? Think of DXM as a spiritual successor to those games. They’re popular in Japan, as mecha media tends to be, but not so much outside of that country, though they do have their small, yet dedicated fanbase in the west. I’m not going to compare DXM to Armored Core at all, because like I implied earlier, I’ve never played Armored Core in my life. Instead, I’ll judge it on its own merits as I should. So, let’s get started.
The story here is pretty simple. Hundreds of kilometers above the planet Earth, an eruption known as a Neutrino Burst was detected inside of Earth’s Moon. When the Moon exploded, a massive chunk of it came down and decimated 50% of Earth. The moon chunk’s impact led to a phenomenon of AI-driven robots regarding humanity as a threat and attempting to take over the planet. Now, various Reclaimer factions, such as Bullet Works and the Western VII, have entered the crash site, now known as the Oval Link. These factions consist of mercenaries, called Outers, who will do almost anything for money– including taking control of giant mechanical suits called Arsenals. You are one of these Outers, and there’s almost nobody in this world you can really trust. One moment, your fellow Outers will have your back, and the next, they could be ready to kill you.
I think the story here is okay. While it was a bit slow at first, it takes some interesting turns that I won’t spoil here. I felt consistently engaged in what was going on once I got to know all of my fellow Reclaimers, and especially once a certain plot point in Rank D was brought to light. On the contrary, though, while DXM’s story has a lot of interesting ideas, it also has a lot of dumb asspulls. I also feel that there are way too many characters, and most of them are one-note and are used so little that I forget about some of them entirely. Hell, a few of these characters even die late in the story, but I can’t feel sad for any of them, between them having next to no screen time…
…and the presentation. Now, I will be fair and recognize that First Studio is very small and young, having only been formed a couple years ago. DXM is also their first original IP, as the only other two games they worked on were Fate/Extella Link and God Eater 3, games that are part of existing IP. It’s not like First Studio is a well established in-house Nintendo studio that makes massive games. But I still have to criticize it anyways, as much as I’m aware of the circumstances.
On one hand, the visual style here is very striking. Everything is vibrant and colorful, there are a lot of really cool looking particle and lighting effects, the mech designs are chunky as all hell in the best way possible, and a lot of the Reclaimer designs are nice and simple with the unifying design theme being the Plugsuit they all wear.
On the other, the lip syncing doesn’t look good, a lot of dialogue is presented through static text boxes, character animations can look lifeless or really out of place, and the choice of a mission structure, while making sense in context, has always struck a bit of a weird spot for me.
On the whole, the game runs MUCH better than it did back in February when PM came out. The framerate is a solid 30fps, and while that may bug some people, I personally don’t have much of an issue with it. 60 would be nice, but I’ll settle for 30 since it’s at least stable now. There are some slight 1 to 2 second pauses when the game has to load a lot of assets every now and then, and while it isn’t often enough or long enough that I find it harms the game greatly, I do think they could be fixed. There’s also a handful weird glitches and issues in some places. In one mission, the character Bishop will get caught on pieces of geometry, rendering the mission incompletable without restarting. And in the Dreadnought boss fight, the character Johnny G. will get stuck on seemingly nothing and be unable to move.
Overall, it’s okay. DXM looks like an early PS3 game, and part of me says that in the most endearing way possible because I love the PS3. I just think the presentation could have used a biiit more work to look like a true current-gen game. Love the voice acting though, we’ve got some stand-outs like Xander Mobus (Crow/P1), Robbie Daymond (Grief), Joe Zieja (Notes/P2), and Erica Lindbeck (Regret), and other voices all sound pretty good as well. Sometimes, lines will sound a bit off, particularly in the first of those deaths I mentioned, but it’s few and far between. The soundtrack kicks ass, too. Lots of heavy metal and rock, alongside the occasional orchestral tracks that add to those climactic moments really well. My personal favorite track is Inherit the Stars, the track that plays during the final encounter with Grief.
But of course, the real meat of DXM, like any game, is the gameplay. And the gameplay sure is meaty. As stated earlier, DXM is a mech action game, a subgenre of action that plays literally nothing like popular action games such as Devil May Cry. The main draw of mech action is customization, and in DXM, you have a lot of options. Not only do you have your Arsenal parts, consisting of various processors, heads, bodies, legs, and even separate right arm and left arm categories to have two different arm types at once, but you also have a lot of weapons at your disposal. You can carry up to 5 at once, separated into your right arm, left arm, a pylon for each respective arm that carries an extra weapon each, and shoulder. The arm and pylons can carry a wealth of different styles of weapons, like assault rifles, bazookas, swords, shields, and even laser-based weapons. Shoulders are typically just missiles, but there also exists repair guns that shoot status effect-healing fields. You also have an auxillary, which can provide a number of different passive purposes, like storing extra Femto or allowing you to boost directly downwards. Each part and weapon can also affect your stats, from major ones like VP to less important things like your resistances to various statuses. There’s a lot to consider here, and I really like just sitting down and thinking about how I’m going to prepare my Arsenal for more missions.
Even your Outer has some depth to customization. Though most of it is purely cosmetic, there are actually body modifications that affect your abilities as an Outer. The catch is, almost everything that changes your Outer abilities also has you go through some cosmetic change, turning you into less and less of a human as you progress in mods. It’s really an interesting way of visually conveying what you’ve done to your Outer.
But how does the game feel when you’re actually out there doing missions? It feels really good! The controls feel very responsive, there’s a nice and noticeable weight to your movement, boosting is an absolute thrill that makes you feel like you’re piloting a jet, combat is satisfying, and you have extra moves tied to this material called Femto that add even more depth to how you plan everything out. Femto controls your laser-based weapons, allows you to spawn a clone of yourself using Mirage, and lets you alter your offensive, defensive, and flight capabilities with Femto Armaments. You can also straight up play as your Outer as both a last-ditch effort in combat, or to intentionally avoid enemy lock-on and place traps for enemies to run into, effectively acting as pseudo-stealth gameplay. There’s even a whole mission that makes light of this, titled Tactical Espionage Arsenal, a clear-cut reference to the iconic tagline of Metal Gear Solid. Overall, DXM feels so good to play, and there’s a good balance between fast action and the slower, clunkier gameplay that mech action is known for.
And that’s what I love about it. DXM is a game that, by default, is taking a massive risk on all accounts. It’s a brand new IP that comes from a niche genre, a new and obscure developer, and doesn’t tote itself around as a sprawling, big-budget trend game. It didn’t even get much in the way of advertisement until about a month before it released, and the original Prototype Missions demo left a sour taste in plenty of mouths. It all goes to show that Nintendo wasn’t confident in this weird-ass game they agreed to publish, and I completely understand why.
But for me? I couldn’t ask for much more from DXM, and it’s still gonna be getting updates with new content. It recently got an update for local and online PvP, and I played it with a buddy of mine. It’s a lot of fun, just flying around a map and kicking each other’s butts, one-on-one or even two-on-two. The online runs pretty smooth too, which is nice because I don’t have to worry about horrible lag like I do with Smash Bros.
We sure have come a long way since PM. And speaking of PM, I have to give MASSIVE props to First Studio for the decision to put that out when they did. There are so many little things that were improved for the final game, and if it wasn’t for that demo, I would have been a LOT more critical of DXM. Fortunately, I can sing higher praises of the final game than I would have if PM didn’t happen.
And so, that’s it. My highly belated thoughts are laid out on the table. DXM is a game that has a lot of cool ideas accompanied by a lot of small mistakes that could be ironed out in a hypothetical DXM2. While being rough around the edges, I personally think that the core gameplay is extremely fun, and the game gives you good enough reason to see it through to the end. I give DAEMON X MACHINA for the Nintendo Switch an 8/10!