Takeaways from 30 minutes of Daemon X Machina gameplay


AKA the Nintendo Switch mech game

Marvelous and Nintendo are making a mech action game that lets you zip around on the ground and in the air to dismantle giant killing machines, robbing them of their weaponry. It’s coming to Switch next year with involvement from Kenichiro Tsukuda (Armored Core). Would you like to know more?

Following Daemon X Machina‘s unexpected reveal a couple months ago, Tsukuda and Nintendo brought a new demo to Germany for gamescom. Let’s sift through this half-hour-long video together.

Your avatar (an “Outer”) will pilot a mech (read: “Arsenal”) that can be altered on-the-fly as you encounter different enemies that call for alternate battle tactics. Do we need a reason to gun down hostile robots? No, not really. But Daemon X Machina has one. The moon collided with our planet, drawing out a strange new type of energy that has mysteriously turned AI against their masters.

Oh, and Outers? They’re humans — or they were, anyway. The energy that spurred an AI rebellion also gave some people superhuman abilities. They’re now defending humanity, but they are outcasts.

With that setup locked in, let’s dig into some details.

  • At the Lab in the Hangar, you can alter your physical appearance (gender, body, face, hair, eyes, eyebrows, makeup, scars, and tattoos) as well as abilities like speed and jumping. These unlocks stick with your Outer, so you’ll retain them inside your Arsenal.
  • You’ll browse and accept missions at the Hangar. They’re separated by Rank (difficulty), offer monetary rewards, and contain side objectives. Your primary goal may be to bring down a colossal AI or sneak inside a base on-foot to steal a new Arsenal unit, but you might also need to keep your health from dipping below 50 percent.
  • Storms turn the game’s otherwise colorful art monochrome for a split second as thunder claps. This visual flair was inspired by manga and it looks bangin’.

A monochromatic storm

  • The team wants you to feel like a futuristic samurai or knight while piloting your mech.
  • While the current build lacks audio, cutscenes will be voiced in the final game.
  • Up to four players can assemble at the Hangar for “flexible” co-op. If you’re riding solo, you can add up to three CPU allies. If you’ve just got a buddy, you can add two CPUs to the crew. They’re helpful not only for attacking bosses, but for distracting them too.
  • Whittling away weak points will temporarily knock a boss down, giving you precious time to steal one of its weapon and use it against them. Through research back at the Hangar, you’ll be able to earn (regular-sized) boss weapons for use with your Arsenal.

Using a boss's weapon against itself

  • After beating a boss, a minute-long countdown initiates before you’re kicked back to base. Tsukuda was coy, but said it will play a “key role” in multiplayer. It’s a “pretty cool feature” that we haven’t seen in “many other games before or any other games before.”
  • Tsukuda loves heavy metal. Particularly Rammstein.
  • “A lot of the sound effects in the game” were made with musical instruments, and the player is meant to “feel like they’re participating in a concert.”
  • We got a peek at the equipment screen in the Hangar, which is where you’ll swap in new parts for your Arsenal, paint, register loadouts, and launch the testing grounds.
  • There are parts for right/left/shoulder weapons, auxiliary, and right/left pylon. You can compare parameters side-by-side and sort your list. Looting seems like a big draw.
  • Besides HP and stamina, you’ll also have to manage your Arsenal’s Femto energy. “It interacts with the game in many different ways and keeps things interesting. You can almost think of it as your magic points.” Certain RPG-esque elements like this are meant for accessibility — to help players “feel familiar with the game from the start.”
  • Yusuke Kozaki of Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates is handling the character designs.

If you want to see these bullet points in action but don’t have 30 minutes, here’s a snappy trailer:

I think they’re onto something. Daemon X Machina seems well positioned to draw in mech-game regulars and folks like me who think they’re great in theory but tend to become overwhelmed. It also helps that this faces little to no direct competition on Switch and it’s rocking a standout art style.

No word on a precise launch window yet, but it’s definitely due in 2019.