The first I heard of this game, it was in Nintendo’s E3 2018 trailer.
Just a little thing about me, but I like mechs as much as Medic likes dragons, and I always want a new mech action game. I mean, Into The Breach is nice, but I don’t want to play a mech game as a commander in an RTS. Piloting the giant machines is the fun part.
I was extremely excited for the game until I realized it was, at the time, a Switch exclusive. So I just moved on until yesterday when I saw it on sale on Steam and bought it immediately. And I binged it the whole day today.
Override: Mech City Brawl is fine, but it is an extremely short game unless you want to replay the hour-long campaign with every single mech, which is rather boring past the fifth or sixth repetition. EDF’s Air Raider have a fine selection of mechs, but it is not strictly-speaking a mech action game. That said, if you play nothing but Air Raider it’s pretty close, but I have a personal issue with all of Air Raider’s mechs except Balam: they all shoot guns. I play mech games to clobber enemies with giant death machines, if I want to shoot my enemies to death I’ll fly a jet instead.
In Daemon X Machina, you primarily pilot a mech. I said primarily, because when your mech goes down your actual player character pops out and is armed with something akin to one of Nu Gundam‘s funnels, grenades and mines, and there are missions where you play as the player character. Those are the minority, however, and your mech, known as an Arsenal, is the one doing the heavy lifting during the bulk of the game.
Your Arsenal is yours to customize. You get to choose the mech parts and weaponry to suit your preferred playstyle. I currently have two loadouts, one where I wield two swords and wreck face up-close and personal, and the other where I pack a bunch of guns and a bazooka when facing enemies that refuse to engage in the honourable pursuit of melee combat. I customized my melee suit to be more heavily-armoured so that I can leave a skirmish in one piece, while my shooter suit is a bit more balanced.
As for how you get parts, you harvest it off enemy mechs during missions. Find an enemy Arsenal, pummel them to the dirt if they are still moving, and harvest one part off the remains. Granted, sometimes it feels like trying to decide between your left and right kidney when the options are equally enticing, but some missions are replayable, and you can go to the Factory to request for parts to be fabricated, so it’s not that bad. At the very least, you don’t have to gacha for parts, like a certain mobile game I sank too much time into. That fanbase-exploiting, money-grabbing, time-gating virtual plastic crack.
Personally, I like the fiddling. Being able to customize something specifically for me is nice.
The general combat itself is fine. Movement is extremely fluid as you hover sideways across the battlefield, circle-strafing and shooting anything nearby. However, you are not limited to just two dimensions. I spent about as much time flying as I did on the ground. Precision is less of a focus in combat, as your guns lock on to enemies within a certain range. Instead, it’s more about movement and situational awareness.
And the best part of the game are the giant robot boss fights. Partly because it’s really fun to weave between attacks to beat the living hell out of machines far larger than you are, and partly because the boss fight themes are amazing. The trailer music at the start of the article was the theme for the first boss fight, and there is nothing quite as nice as having that blaring in your ears as you brutalize the soon-to-be giant pile of scrap before you.
All in all, I enjoy this a lot. But then, as I said, I like mechs, as my 20+ Gundam kits around my room can testify. I am not exactly the best or most unbiased judge of quality when it comes to this game. But I do enjoy the game a lot, which I hope counts for something. I might pick up Break Arts II again after this, as I dropped it after being extremely confused after my first try. From what I see, BA II has a far more in-depth customization system available, as long as I can figure out the damn thing.