Although it is a new franchise in its own right, Daemon X Machina bears a striking resemblance to the long-running Armored Core series, which never graced a Nintendo platform. Helmed by Armored Core producer Kenichiro Tsukuda, Daemon X Machina is here to help fill that void.
Akin to its spiritual predecessor, the game’s plot revolves around the theme of Man Versus Machine. In an attempt to rebuild the world after the moon fell to its doom, humanity decided to utilize AI with minds of their own to help fulfill this massive undertaking. This also saw the rise of a sinister machine race known as the Immortals, who managed to influence the AI to turn against its creators. The story is broken down into a series of missions, which see you joining a prestigious group of mercenaries known as the Reclaimers on an action-packed adventure to take down the Immortals and save humanity from ultimate destruction. It’s a fairly straightforward plot that pushes the narrative forward.
A wide variety of robust customization options are featured in the game, enough to differentiate your character from the ranks of the Reclaimers and other players you may come across locally or online. You can modify your avatar, tweak your Arsenal and even alter your controls to find something that works for you. You don’t have to worry about getting things right the first time; customization is possible throughout your adventure, allowing you to change as you go.
There are a ton of NPCs that you’ll meet, particularly in the beginning of your adventure, when you’re introduced to members of the Reclaimers and your teammates. You get a sense of their personality during briefings before missions, which are fully voiced to make it easier to follow along. Some characters are chatty, some don’t say much, some are arrogant, some are likeable and some are downright annoying. Dialogue is also prevalent during actual missions; characters start off with relevant things to say that are enjoyable, but things quickly begin to fall out of line.
Some characters are too talkative during battles and most spew out repetitive phrases after performing a certain task like defeating enemies or being attacked in battle. This significantly diminishes the sense of realism and immersion. That’s not to mention how some phrases are super awkward and seem completely out of place; for example, one character can be heard shouting “more, more!” over and over again in the same exact tone just seconds apart.
Missions typically last between eight and 15 minutes, and they’re where the core gameplay happens. Almost all missions take place in an atmospheric setting that throws you in an armored suit called an Arsenal that’s capable of flight. You’re automatically equipped with a set of weapons that enable you to shoot projectiles, defend yourself and execute hand-to-hand combat. Depending on your position, you can use a mixture of these possibilities to gain an edge over your opponents. You can also exit your Arsenal to traverse on foot. While this method doesn’t leave you entirely helpless, it pales in comparison to the more ideal approach. Combat is usually action-packed but feels repetitive oftentimes due to the onslaught of enemies you have to face. Furthermore, you sometimes feel like you’re not contributing much due to the performance of your companions, who are more than happy to hog all the attention. Missions tend to end abruptly for the same reason, leaving little room for exploration.
As a game that heavily promotes cooperative play, there’s a major focus on multiplayer. You can team up with up to three other players to take on special missions via local or online play. Once you find suitable teammates, you’ll enter an arena that consists of hazards put in place by the Immortals. It’s your job to work as a team to defeat them before they overcome you. The Immortals that you face can be huge, so you’re going to have to think of different ways to gain the upper hand. You can communicate with comrades via text chats, which can come in handy but aren’t as quick or natural as integrated voice chat. Due to the scope of the battlefield, it would’ve also been more helpful if more players were invited to join the battle – but the limit is a maximum of four in total.
With an intriguing story, pretty solid gameplay, vigorous customization options and a promising online component, Daemon X Machina is a welcome addition to the arsenal of third-person shooters on Nintendo Switch. All in all, it’s a fresh take for Nintendo fans and – for the most part – an enjoyable experience.
A review copy of Daemon X Machina on Nintendo Switch was provided by Nintendo UK.