Daemon X Machina: Prototype Missions Has Me Convinced the Full Game Will Be Awesome
Daemon X Machina's Prototype Missions demo is a fantastic way for players to get a taste of Marvelous' upcoming mech-based combat game.
Daemon X Machina has a visual flair that’s astoundingly unique on the Nintendo Switch. A mech-based third-person shooter that has gameplay elements of Monster Hunter, Armored Core, Freedom Wars, and a dystopian-inspired storyline that culminates into something that feels wildly unique amongst the Nintendo Switch’s lineup of games. Needless to say, I’ve been shipping this game since its initial reveal at E3 2018 and now that I’ve finally gotten the chance to go hands-on with it after playing the “Prototype Missions” released a few weeks ago on the eShop, they’ve only made me more excited to play the final game.
The demo itself opens with you creating your own customized character. Options are relatively limited for the time being but more will be available once the actual game launches. This is all fine and dandy because I’m here for one thing and one thing only — gameplay. I had so much anticipation going into the first mission, as I knew it would come to me almost immediately whether or not this game would click with me. The mechs, or Arsenals as they’re called in the world of Daemon X Machina, are the meat of this game. If they’re not fun to control, then there’s really no point in getting invested is there?
My slight concerns were quickly alleviated and I could breathe a sigh of relief once I realized that Daemon X Machina is a hell of a lot of fun. There are some things I could see myself having issues with in longer gameplay strides. All in all, the four missions that I did play gave me a sweet, sweet taste of the full experience that I’m now even more eager to get my hands on.
Each of the four missions varies in gameplay-style and difficulty. The first (rightfully) teaches you the basics of flying as well as how the overall game map works and the ways in which players can interact with it. Movement is slick and flying through the air at different speeds is a breeze. When you’re running on the ground, your Arsenal will start gaining momentum with a slow jog, followed by skating on the ground with some really fantastic momentum at play.
“The four missions that I did play gave me a sweet, sweet taste of the full experience that I’m now even more eager to get my hands on.”
Flying in Daemon X Machina may be hit or miss for some. This aspect of the controls is certainly harder to do justice as far as gameplay goes. Up front, it was certainly not a miss for me, and I found it to be rather second-hand once my questline was all said and done. There are two buttons used for going up and down as well as a boost button that helps you pick up a solid amount of speed. This boosting ability also carries over to ground traversal, but I found it to be more efficient in the air.
Shooting and slashing hordes of enemies is another thing you’ll be gleefully doing throughout the four quests. Also, you can nonchalantly pick up heaps of debris to chuck at enemies for some massive damage, which is certainly a nice touch. Combat feels varied enough to stay refreshing and the pure mission variety ensures, to me at least, that things will stay interesting even after multiple hours of gameplay.
The Prototype Missions for Daemon X Machina also do a fantastic job at differentiating the enemy types in interesting ways. Fighting a giant boss feels wildly unique to fighting a more advanced mech enemy who’s on an even playing field to you in terms of size. These fights in some ways were even more intense than the giant boss battles.
Outside of the tutorial mission — the other three have you clearing a map of relatively standard enemies, defending a certain point on the map, and taking on one of the game’s giant bosses that I previously mentioned. I think it’s safe to assume new enemies will be introduced throughout the storyline and I was totally fired up thinking about how I’ll be taking down a variety of enemies alongside three of my friends in the game’s online multiplayer.
This also happens to be where my comparison to Monster Hunter and Freedom Wars comes from. While the mechanics are only comparable in light ways, it’s enough to elevate Daemon X Machina from a fairly standard mech-based combat game to one that’s brimming with customization possibilities that allow for some really awesome personalization options. Even the light customization options we’re given in this demo were enough to excite me alone.
You’re able to equip a variety of weapons on your mech that is able to be switched out on the fly. Thankfully, if you want to try one out you’re completely able to, and if you happen to not like it, you can switch it out for a weapon you’re more comfortable with quickly during missions. Various armor types and weapons are dropped by certain enemies and when this occurs, you’re only able to choose one of the many things they could potentially drop. Since these drops are happening in the heat of battle, it makes the decision feel a bit more traumatic but all the more satisfying when you get a piece of gear that strengthens you in the long run. Additionally, Daemon X Machina encourages some exploration as players can find rare decals among other things littered throughout the ruins of the formal world.
Of course, as with all games, not everything’s all sunshine and rainbows. There are a few issues I did find during the demo, but thankfully, none of these issues seemed big enough where they can’t be fixed before the game launches later this year. So let’s get into them.
One personal issue I had revolved around sword combat. Daemon X Machina has a hefty amount of weapons you can find littered throughout the battlefield. Swords should definitely feel cooler than they actually are. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by countless mech-based anime and manga giving me epic battle scenes where the swordplay was absolutely crazy. Now, I did only get time with one of the game’s sword weapons, so different swords could produce different results. But slashing enemies with your weapon amounts to nothing more than a single heavy slash. There’s a lack of that lovely visual flair that Daemon X Machina does so well. Damage is large on these weapons so they never feel totally useless, but I certainly don’t feel as cool as I’d like using them. Maybe it’s just a personal gripe, and it definitely won’t take much away from my love of the game if they’re not changed much before launch.
The most glaring issue I think many players will agree on is the game’s framerate: it sort of sits in between the realm of good enough for console-based gamers, and absolutely god-awful if you’re used to playing games on a nice beefy PC. I never found it unplayable, but dips are definitely noticeable during some hectic fights, which in turn can definitely get in the way of the action you’re trying to enjoy. Nevertheless, this is an issue that can be improved upon before launch, and I certainly hope it does.
Outside of all that, the story beats are pretty standard and there’s nothing pulling me in too much. Cutscenes look really cool–as does just about everything else you do in-game–and the animation team definitely deserves commendations based on them alone. It’s also worth mentioning that while your hub hangar is small, there’s a lot of personalization to it that I’m excited to get more invested into in the full game.
If you haven’t tried the Prototype Missions yet and you’re even vaguely interested in Daemon X Machina, I’d strongly urge you to give it a try. It’s easily my most anticipated third-party Switch game to date and I’m just so, so eager to get my hands on it. Daemon X Machina is launching exclusively on the Nintendo Switch sometime this summer. If you’d like to pre-order a copy for yourself, you can do so right now over on Amazon.