Daemon X Machina review

A workaday mech combat game that looks spectacular in its busiest moments.

(Image: © Daemon X Machina)

Our Verdict

Marvelous’s mechfest looks beautiful and plays like a dream on PC, but it's held back by repetitive action.

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What is it? A third-person mech combat game
Expect to pay $60/£50
Developer Marvelous Inc
Publisher XSEED Games
Reviewed on Ryzen 7 3700X, RTX 2060, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer? Online PvP and co-op, up to 4 players
Link Official site

Third-person mech blaster, Daemon X Machina, tells the story of a world recovering from a major catastrophe. The moon has crashed into the planet, and the resulting wreck has been emitting a strange energy that’s not only turning all artificial intelligence sentient, but also turning it against the human race. As luck would have it, this radiation has also heightened the abilities of a number of civilians, including your character. You decide to offer your services to help take down the ever-growing threat of AI robots via the tried-and-tested method of fighting them in big mechs.

After designing your unnamed mercenary in a passable creation suite, you find yourself in your hub area where you take on missions and customise your mech. Upon accepting a mission you have to watch a cutscene in which other mercenaries discuss the story with each other. The plot is one of the game’s main problems, particularly in the early stages, where practically every new mission introduces a new handful of pilots.

There are over 30 other mercenaries in total, and as you’re introduced to them all you’re also expected to remember them and their unique personality traits when they pop up again ten missions down the line. Granted, not every merc is as important to the overall story—and the more notable ones are brought to the fore as the game progresses—but there are a hell of a lot of names and faces to familiarise yourself with early on.

(Image credit: Daemon X Machina)

Luckily, it’s the combat that counts, and in that respect Daemon X Machina plays an entertaining mech ‘em up. Its pedigree is unmistakable. It's produced by Kenichiro Tsukuda, who also produced the Armored Core series. Mech designs are handled by Shoji Kawamori, who’s been creating the mechs in the Macross series since its inception in the early ‘80s.

Daemon X Machina is approachable enough to appeal to those with no previous experience with mech games. Controlling your mech takes one or two missions to get used to, but it soon clicks: flying is toggled on and off with taps of the jump button, the triggers handle your various weapons, the D-pad allows you to swap out different firearms on the fly.

Your mech is also armed with generous aim assist, which means you can pick of groups of five or six smaller enemies with ease by sweeping your crosshairs in their general direction. Purists may balk at such support, but considering you’re in a giant robot designed for combat it would be odd if it didn’t have the ability to unleash death on small-fry foes with ease. As battles became progressively more intense, and the skies started filling with lesser enemies, I was thankful for the help.

With a half-decent rig you easily can run Daemon X Machina on its highest settings. As entertaining as the game was in its original incarnation on the Nintendo Switch, it was locked to 30 frames per second. Soaring around at top speed in anything from 60 to 200 fps (depending on your settings) makes it immediately obvious that the PC is this game’s natural home.

(Image credit: Daemon X Machina)

Daemon X has its fair share of issues, however. The controls are streamlined and accessible to newcomers, but the HUD is a nightmare. It consists of around 20 different gauges keeping track of health bars, ammo, and more. It’s useful to know your mech’s left arm is slightly more damaged than its right, but it can be initially overwhelming, and seems at odds with the newcomer-friendly approach of the rest of the game.

It also gets repetitive. A great deal of your time spent on Daemon X Machina involves accepting a mission, watching some cut-scenes, completing the mission then choosing another. The missions aren’t identical, of course—one minute you could be defending key buildings from enemy attack, the next you could be taking on one of the game’s long boss fights—but the overarching routine doesn’t deviate.

When it all comes together, this shouldn’t matter too much. Daemon X Machina may lack an engaging storyline and a dynamic mission structure, but the action is entertaining and visually striking enough for fans of giant mech combat. If you love huge, destructive war machines, you can wring some fun out of the game before the formula gets old.

The Verdict
Daemon X Machina review

Marvelous’s mechfest looks beautiful and plays like a dream on PC, but it's held back by repetitive action.