What do you get when you combine high-tech mechs with rogue AI hellbent on destroying all of humanity? A delicious shooter with a plentiful serving of high-octane action called Daemon X Machina, that’s what!

Created by the genre defining producer, Kenichiro Tsukuda, Daemon X Machina places you, a mercenary rookie, into your very own mech to team up with other mercenaries and beat some AI butt all the way to the scrap yard. Is Daemon X Machina a metallic masterpiece chock full of action, or will you procure more adrenaline looking for another game to play? Find out in our review, after the break!

Daemon X Machina
Nintendo Switch
Developed by Marvelous Inc.
Published by Nintendo
Released: 13th September 2019
Review copy provided by Nintendo

Set in a world of disarray, Daemon X Machina follows you, a brand new mercenary of the Orbital organisation, as you tackle a range of missions to reduce the threat of corrupted AI. At an unspecified point in history, the moon tore apart, sending the human inhabited planet into pure, apocalyptic chaos. This tragedy also unleashed a hostile race of mechanical super-beings, called immortals. Not only are there colossal immortals in their ranks (these are gigantic living vehicles with a bad temper), but they also have a nasty habit of corrupting AI controlled machines, such as attack drones and other mechs, making the eradication of humanity their main priority. On the bright side, the Femto radiation has provided some humans with superpowers, so it isn’t all doom and gloom at least.

As a mercenary for the Orbital organisation, you’ll have access to your very own customisable mech, referred to as an Arsenal. Your Arsenal will essentially be your best friend while working as a mercenary, so you’ll want to try and keep it in good shape during battles… not to mention that you are informed that if repair costs outweigh the benefits of the mission, you may become fully expendable; that’s post-apocalyptic capitalism for ya!

There are two main types of missions: offer and free. Offer missions are issued by different consortiums (the companies that reputable mercenaries make up) and progress the story, as well as increasing your mercenary rank. Free missions however, offer challenges outside the main story where you can invite any computer controlled partner you’ve befriended from offer missions; these present a great opportunity to receive a bit of extra cash too.

Most missions will require you to defeat all, or some, of the enemy units on the map, destroy colossal immortals, or even defend friendly units, structures, or vehicles. Some missions will also come equipped with side missions, they may pop up in the middle of an offer mission, or make themselves known during the briefing of free missions. In regards to difficulty, the first handful of missions do not offer a lot of challenge as long as you grasp the basics of combat and are somewhat competent at controlling your Arsenal… a couple missions into Rank C however, paint a different story. Once you have gotten this far into the story, you’ll definitely need to ante up your game and make sure you are fully decked out as there are some tough challenges ahead. One mission had me defending a freight train from, not only rogue AI, but other mercenaries who were instructed to destroy the train. Suffice to say I failed… a lot, but once I got some better weapons, I finally was able to escort the train safely with only 10% structural integrity left!

My biggest disappointment regarding offer missions is the fact that, once you have completed a mission, you are no longer able to play it again, though at least you are able to replay the free missions, some of which are actually revamped versions of offer missions. It’s also disappointing that there is no scoring when tackling missions. If the game rewarded you for shooting more accurately or taking less damage, I would definitely have more of an excuse to replay free missions. You do however, get a detailed report of your mission such as the accuracy percentage of each weapon used, your damage output ratio, the fluctuations of your VP and stamina throughout the mission and more.

While controlling your Arsenal, you can either traverse over the rocky landscapes of the ground for close-quarter combat, or whoosh around the skies to participate in some aerial action. If you’re a bit of a speed demon, holding down R will allow you to boost at high speeds, though using it will gradually decrease your stamina. If this runs out, you will no longer be able to boost and you’ll temporarily loose the ability to fly until your stamina automatically regenerates. You may find that, at times, your Arsenal’s VP (essentially its health) will run a little low from the bombardment of attacks, if you shoot recovery tanks however, you’ll unleash a temporary recovery field that will gradually replenish your VP while inside.

Though you’ll only start out with a very basic assault rifle and shield, you’ll quickly be able to access a wide arsenal for your… well, Arsenal. There’s swords, machine guns, bazookas, acid cannons, lasers, homing missiles, grenades and so much more to choose from. As you are travelling at high speeds, it only makes sense that your Arsenal comes equipped with an automatic lock-on function. Once you’re in range of enemy units, those units will become encompassed in a square on the HUD, this is your sign that your Arsenal will automatically aim for those speedy buggers. If you’re in a bit of a pinch, you can use an ability called mirage to summon your very own doppleganger to turn the tides. Be warned however, using mirage will deplete your stored Femto (some of your weapons will also use this), though due to the abundance of the substance in this post-apocalyptic world, it shouldn’t be too difficult to regenerate.

Your Arsenal may be powerful, but it’s in no way invincible. If you run out of VP, your Arsenal will shut down and will need to be repaired. If you don’t feel like giving up just yet, you will have the option, for a brief period of time, to exit your Arsenal and to fight as an Outer. In this form, you’ll have the use of a basic blaster, grenades, and traps. Be warned though, once you shed from the safety of your Arsenal, your defence will become significantly diminished, and loosing all of your HP will result in a failed mission.

One thing that truly blew my mind is the depth of customisation on offer in Daemon X Machina. When equipping main weapons, you have the choice of equipping them on either of your Arsenal’s two arms, and yes, you can equip a different weapon on each arm. You also have a right and left pylon in which you can equip up to two additional weapons, allowing you to quickly swap out weapons on the fly with a couple taps of the D-Pad. In addition to the main weapons, you can also equip specific weapons on your shoulder, such as homing missiles, and assign yourself an auxiliary weapon, such as grenades or mines. Overall, you could potentially enter the battlefield with up to six different weapons, enough to put the mortal into immortal.

At times, you may come across rogue Arsenals or mercenaries that want to get in your way. Though defeating them will be tough, it doesn’t come without its rewards. Once an Arsenal is destroyed, you’ll have the option to scavenge from the remains where you can choose to steal one weapon or a piece of armour, some of which you may be able to equip there and then. If you end up taking something that’s a bit rubbish, you can just sell it on at the store later for some quick cash!

I’m not going to lie, having the firepower to theoretically blast a second moon out of orbit is pretty fun, but weapons serve very little purpose if you have no way to protect yourself. That’s where armour comes in. Similar to weapons, you’ll also receive a lot of choice when installing armour. You can install different pieces of armour on each of the main parts of your Arsenal: head, body, right and left arms, processor, and legs. Some pieces of armour will boost stats no matter which type you use, though some stats are exclusive to specific types of armour. Some head pieces, for example, may increase the range of lock-on targeting, whereas some processors could decrease the regeneration time for your stamina. Be careful in combat though, if an equipped piece of armour is destroyed during combat, not only will you loose those boosted stats, but you’ll also get charged a repair fee.

Some weapons are more effective against specific enemies compared to others. You could manually swap out the weapons in the hangar between each mission, but that takes too long. To make the process smoother, you can easily save and load up to ten different loadouts. Each one includes your choice of armour, weapons, and paintjobs. It’s incredibly useful, and I am highly appreciative of the option!

So, you’re in the market for a new weapon or piece of armour but the shop doesn’t have what you have in mind? Why not visit the factory and develop your own? As you progress through the ranks, you’ll unlock various opportunities to develop more advanced weapons and armour you can’t find anywhere else. Once you have provided the required materials and cash, just take on a mission or two and you’ll unlock that piece of armour or weapon for use. You’ll notice that some weapons and armour have attachment slots. These slots are used to install attachments from the factory that can boost various stats, such as the amount of laser damage dealt or increasing your burn resistance. There’s a very modest attachment fee too!

I came for the action, but stayed for the story.

Customisation doesn’t end there, you can also cybernetically enhance your outer or Arsenal to boost your stats further or even grant you brand new abilities to gain the upper hand from the lab. Bear in mind that some modifications come with visual changes to your outer which cannot be changed in the character editor, you can however choose to remove all modifications at the click of a button, removing all skills, for a ‘small’ fee.

If you want to give in to your outer’s sweet tooth, you can give the ice cream parlour next to the lab a visit. You can gain a variety of different stat boosts on your next mission depending on which combination of flavours you choose. Unfortunately these boosts are relatively small, so I have yet to see a real need for visiting often.

As far as the plot is concerned, progress is rather stagnant for the first several missions, however you’ll soon find that it starts to pick up. All is not as it seems when the immortals begin strategising to play on the defence, conspiracies reveal a mysterious force pitting mercenaries against each other, and much more. I often found myself playing just ‘one more’ mission to see how the story progresses over and over again. You could say that I came for the action, but stayed for the story.

Another highlight of the Daemon X Machina experience is the multiplayer. During multiplayer, you’ll tackle a range of special missions with up to three other friends or strangers through local wireless or online play. Some missions will pit you against immensely strong colossal immortals whereas others will challenge you with enemy mercenaries, more missions will become available as your progress through the single player missions. Playing with other players to take down ginormous, mechanical beasts is highly enjoyable and runs incredibly smoothly performance wise. I wouldn’t recommend going straight into multiplayer with very few weapons though otherwise, like me, you may end up embarrassing yourself in front of the Nintendo UK team! To be fair though, those enemies are pretty tough.

The game performs very well, with very smooth gameplay both offline and online. I don’t recall ever encountering any slowdown while playing. I was also a fan of the visuals of the title opting for vibrant colours with a hint of cell shading. It worked very well within the gameplay too as I was able to easily differentiate what was an ally, what was an enemy, and what was the environment… which is always useful in a fast paced game like this. The controls are relatively smooth too, with the option to use motion controls at varying sensitivities (it is set to off as the default).

Daemon X Machina is definitely a fun, adrenaline filled experience, and an impressive one at that. I’ve never delved into this kind of shooter before, but I would say that I have received a fantastic introduction into the genre with an impressive choice of customisation, satisfying gameplay, and intriguing plot, not to mention fantastic multiplayer… it makes me rather excited for the planned update to add competitive multiplayer modes. Though there are some improvements which could better the replayability further, such as including a scoring system to the missions, I still had a lot of fun playing the game, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a decent mech shooter for the Nintendo Switch.

Final rating – 4 out of 5

Daemon X Machina launches on 13th September 2019 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch family systems.

Leon Fletcher

I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!