Daemon X Machina (PC) Review – Fully Optimized Mayhem

Daemon X Machina PC Review

Since the launch of Daemon X Machina, fans of mech games and anime alike have created a cult following of Marvelous Inc. and FIRST STUDIO’s love letter to mechs. The PC version of the game is just as much of a hit classic as it was on the Nintendo Switch, but the controls on PC make it easier to aim and allow for ideal key and mouse button bindings. Although the HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro allowed the most dedicated Daemon X Machina fans the optimal mech experience on the Switch, using your favorite mouse and a gaming keyboard makes this an even more ideal PC game. This classic mech title was built for the Nintendo Switch but it’s even better on the PC.

The high octane combat of Daemon X Machina has transitioned well to PC, with the beautiful vibrant colours looking even more vibrant on a gaming computer. Just like on the Nintendo Switch, gamers will be customizing their ultimate mech as they collect upgrades from fallen foes. Weapons can be swapped to not only improve weapon damage, but also to change the gameplay experience like the best mech games and FPS games out there. Shift your mech into high speed while using the space bar to ascend and the Left Control to descend. Although these key bindings can be changed for an even more optimal experience, the proximity of these keys feels familiar to me as a fan of FPS, jumping being replaced with flying and crouching being replaced with descending from the sky. The gameplay is very fast but it becomes increasingly more fluid as you find your ideal arsenal and get acquainted with the base controls or your optimized ones. The mechs are vastly customizable, rivaled only by the character customization which allowed me to create my ideal Dragon Ball Z Super character, complete with blue skin and purple hair.

As a fan of anime, playing Daemon X Machina was a combination of watching my favorite mech-based anime such as Zoids and Gundam and playing my favorite mech games like Titanfall and Custom Robo. Fans of the mech genre will find a lot to love with this PC port of an instant Nintendo Switch classic. The characters that PC gamers will interact with are all the same as the ones that Nintendo Switch owners have been teaming up with since the launch of the game last year but because of the replayability of the title, fans of the Switch games can opt for alternate team ups and use different weapons than they’re used to. The narrative follows the same plot points, starting off as a Rookie in a team of Outers who are mercenaries that protect and serve consortiums through missions that are shared with a helpful AI known simply as Four. Each of the Outers you team up with will bring something different to the table through their personalities and their mechs alike, while enemies will be equally as quirky. Immortals are the greatest threat to your custom character and their fellow Outers, providing some of the best skill tests in the game. Each boss battle provides a nice challenge periodically between defeating waves of enemy AI.

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Fans of mech games who haven’t looked into Daemon X Machina will find comfort in the fact that¬†Producer Kenichiro Tsukuda previously worked on the classic console series: Armored Core. It’s likely that fans of the FromSoftware classic mech franchise who have moved from console to PC will find solace with the release of Daemon X Machina. The Armored Core franchise hasn’t had a recent installment and Daemon X Machina is the current-gen title mech fans have been waiting many years for. The quality voice acting for each character makes walls of text far less strenuous than reading everything, but well read fans will be able to discover more lore through messages sent between characters that are completely optional to explore. Each mission briefing from Four that takes place prior to a mission includes information such as what the target is and what enemy AI Outers can expect to see on the battlefield. Each briefing is proceeded by a meeting between mercenaries teaming up for the mission and many times, the briefing doesn’t account for big surprises such as an ambush, a rescue or an impromptu boss battle. Although much of the dialogue between characters can feel predictable, I felt like anything could happen on a mission because of the cutscenes that would interrupt my gunplay with a new surprise that threw a wrench into everything. For particularly difficult missions, you’re going to want to stack up on ice cream, which gives you a buff of your choice to enjoy on the battlefield and entertaining titles that add a progression system to eating ice cream.

Brilliantly Simplistic Controls, Smooth But Hectic Battlefield

Starting a fresh game of Daemon X Machina may feel overwhelming at first, with an impressively complex mini-map that needs a two-page legend and cluttered battlefields with various skyscrapers blocking the line of sight between you and your enemy. While the colour coding of the mini-map takes some getting used to and locating the loot isn’t always easy, combat is as fluid to control as it is to watch in the best mech anime. The left-click will control your left-arm weapon while a right-click will, you guessed it, control the weapon on your right arm. There’s a shoulder weapon and an auxillary item that will further enhance your ability to crush the competition on the battlefield while zooming through the sky at high speeds. It’s important to manage a stamina gauge just as much as it is to keep an eye on your health because it drains as you fly around or slide across the ground.

Changing up your arsenal will change the gameplay in a big way, with the sniper rifle requiring more precision for optimal damage than an assault rifle and a bazooka blowing up enemies by either hitting them directly or utilizing a stage hazard to explode them using the environment or poison them in an area-of-effect. My favorite combination is an assault rifle combined with a submachine gun but I found specific uses for my shields and occasionally swapped the assault rifle with a sniper rifle or bazooka, depending on the situation presented in the deceptively useful mission briefings. Allied AI are well rounded characters with interesting backgrounds and quality voice acting, but they’re also extremely useful on the battlefield. Unlike many mech titles, they aren’t completely useless and they do a great job at keeping up in speed and damage output. There were multiple times where they fired the last shot to finish off a boss while I’m struggling to move outside of my mech or they triggered a mission-ending cutscene while I’m still looting the battlefield. There are many advantages to using strategy when engaging with enemy AI but for most missions, gamers can also go in guns blazing which allows for varied gameplay. You’ll definitely want to focus on any weak points on a boss whenever there are any though and the gameplay changes when your mech is destroyed but you aren’t out of the fight.

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Nintendo Switch Exclusive, Ideal PC Experience

Although the Mech Warrior franchise felt more customizable overall, Daemon X Machina brings the optimal customization to what can be swapped in and out, while bringing a lot more to the genre in the visuals, gameplay and story. There are a few dull moments of awkward silence beyond the load screens in this game, often between lines of dialogue from one character to another. The narrative and cutscenes play like the best mech anime but the gameplay takes itself more seriously and is ideal for PC. The load screens, like many other games lately, include helpful hints that will increase your likelihood of survival in battle or make looting the area a lot easier. Daemon X Machina is my favorite mech title since Custom Robo on the GameCube and it’s even better now that it’s on the PC. Watching a boss battle play out is like watching the most intense Gundam and Metabots battles and if that sounds appealing, you’ll enjoy how it plays. Nintendo Switch gamers have had access to Daemon X Machina since September 2019 but PC fans can finally get their hands on the cult classic now.

***PC code provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Mech/character customization
  • Fluid Combat
  • Allied and enemy AI
  • Visuals and Soundtrack

The Bad

  • Walls of text
  • Awkward quiet moments