The demo for Daemon X Machina came out this past week, and it’s a mecha fan’s dream. The demo is chock full of content, helping to give curious players a hearty taste of what to expect this winter. With 4 missions, a character upgrade system, and numerous mecha parts for your arsenal, the demo is chock-full of juicy content.
The gameplay feels surprisingly refined for a demo. Controls are responsive and intuitive, selling the notion that you are piloting a mecha. If there’s one problem, it’s the control layout. It can be a little crowded, especially with the Joy-cons. There were times where I would go to press something during the more frantic moments and end up firing my missiles or jumping instead. This does get better in that you eventually adjust to it, but that takes time. Don’t worry though, this is less of an issue on a classic controller.
There are some controls the games’ tutorial doesn’t explain. There’s an in-game manual that goes over a lot of the things the tutorial doesn’t, but it’s hidden in a sub-menu that is easily missed if you aren’t looking for it. For example, it wasn’t until 3 hours in when I realised that I could switch to my auxiliary weapons with the d-pad.
Controls and gameplay help convey your stats, giving you a feeling of weight behind your movement. When you build a heavy armoured Arsenal, the games signature mecha, movement is slow and you won’t be able to dodge as quickly, and jumping feels hindered. And the same goes for the reverse. When you prioritise speed, you instantly notice the difference.
This comes down to the excellent customisation system. One of the major aspects of the Daemon X Machina demo is the Arsenal customisation. Every aspect of your arsenal is interchangeable, from head to toe. And each part has its own stats and buffs, that will affect how your machine functions. When you can actually feel difference in gameplay between different mecha bits, it makes the building aspect feel so much more intuitive. You’ll quickly be trying out as may different builds and load-outs as possible to find the gameplay style that suits you.
During battle you will get the chance to down enemy mecha and strip them for parts. This is the only way so far to acquire parts and it can be a little tedious. I found myself repeating some of the missions over and over again just to farm the parts I wanted. This serves to remind me of some of the worse aspects of the monster hunter games. Keeping in mind that this is a demo, this aspect is something I hope they fix when the game releases this winter. Some form of shop where I could buy parts would be a welcome addition, if only to give me something else to spend earned credits on.
The avatar customisation is where you will be spending most of your credits, the games in house currency. There’s no cost to change your characters appearance and gender, but if you buff your abilities, you’ll need to purchase skills. There are three skill tree in the demo, and each goes up three tiers. Skills also change the look of your avatar, as they are explained as being akin to body mods.
Once you have purchased a skill from one of the tiers, you won’t be able to go back and grab the other one, and only certain skills lead into others on the next tier. This forces you to be smart about your purchases. Do you focus on pilot skills, giving you minor boosts to your abilities? Or do you focus on outer skills which beef up your avatar, allowing you to fight outside your mechas if you go down?
And you will be going down a bit, especially on the boss mission. The 4 missions on offer in the Daemon X Machina demo aren’t hard. In fact, they serve as a great taste for what the game has to offer. But there is a noticeable spike in difficulty once you get the last mission where you have to fight off a giant robot. Throughout the 4 missions, things can get hectic quickly, leading to your screen being a chaotic blur of colour as you try to figure out what hit you.
At least the game manages to be gorgeous even during those hectic moments. The colour palette is lush. Despite the setting being almost apocalyptic, the world has such vibrancy to it at times that I wasn’t expecting. The graphics are sharp and look good both on the big screen and the small. I hardly noticed a difference between handheld and docked mode especially when it came to performance. There’s no chug or increased load times on the handheld mode. The frame rates stay smooth and things feel crisp and clear. It took me loading up my handheld screen shots to notice the graphical downgrade.
Overall, despite its slight flaws and some of the gripes, Daemon X Machina Prototype Missions feels like a polished product. If this is the level of quality we can expect this winter, then things are definitely looking up for this new IP. If you haven’t already, give this one a download, you won’t be disappointed.