If there has been one constant in gaming over the last few years, it is that exclusives for the Nintendo Switch are great. Games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Astral Chain, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses are some of the best of their kind making them absolute must plays, while even the less good games like Kirby Star Allies are still good at doing what they do. The question is when will one of these titles be a stinker? Well we may be as close as possible to that with the latest exclusive Daemon X Machina.
The story basically has you create your character to pilot mechs in a post-apocalyptic world. There is a story here but to be totally blunt, I lost interest early, and lost the gist of the plot quickly. There is a lot of dialogue and cutscenes, which can be specific about arbitrary details, but vague about what is going on, so it’s hard to follow or even care. Now to be fair this isn’t always a detractor, or at least enough to warrant being annoyed. Plenty of games have average to poor stories, which is so unimportant to what makes a game fun that it’s easy to look past, but there is so much dialogue and cutscenes in Daemon X Machina that it isn’t that easy to overlook so is a constant reminder that the story is so bland.
The real reason you are here is for mech combat, and the game is pretty darn good at this, for a while anyway. Flying around in your mech shooting enemies is a whole lot of fun and it feels so good to play. You upgrade your mech throughout the game which adds a little bit of variety, but the game is far too long that by the 20th hour it does get repetitive and tedious. Most of this could have been jammed into side missions so people could add extra value if they wanted, but it would stop someone beating the game from getting bored. Heck that may have helped the story be a little more comprehensible as well.
The game has massive difficulty spikes which is one of those things that aren’t always a bad thing. If the game was a tight 12-18 hours, then spending two hours getting past an especially difficult boss wouldn’t be an issue. The problem is that because the game is so long and feels a bit grindy, when you get stuck on a boss it feels like you are wasting time unnecessarily where the reward is more repetitive combat afterwards.
One thing the game gets perfectly is its look. It has been given a beautiful anime style that looks fantastic. The post-apocalyptic landscape looks amazing and perfect for mech battling chaos to take place on. The mechs and characters all look fantastic in action, with bosses towering over you in the landscape it is jaw dropping, so if there is one area, I can’t critique it is the designers. The game does chug occasionally with its frame rates which normally isn’t a deal breaker, but Astral Chain demonstrated how a fantastic look game that is built ground up for Switch can run perfectly, so given this is another Switch exclusive, it is a little disappointing.
The biggest challenge for Daemon X Machina is that it is grouped with such consistently exceptional releases on the Switch, because while it is not a bad game, in fact it’s just an above average game with a great soundtrack. It has plenty of flaws but is fun enough to justify its time but given the slew of outstanding titles on the Switch, I would point you to them first. If you still have time to fill and want some mech combat, then this should tick the right boxes for you.
Released: September 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action, JRPG