FromSoftware’s Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon might be one of the most beautiful and exhilarating mech games to have come out in years, but it’s not the only one you could be playing right now. Because a few years ago, the Nintendo Switch got Daemon X Machina, a spiritual successor to the then dormant Armored Core franchise, and you should totally give it another chance.
Read More: Nintendo Switch Exclusive Daemon X Machina Is Made For People Who Like To Take Machines Apart
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Launched in September 2019 as a Nintendo Switch exclusive (before making its way to PC in February 2020), Daemon X Machina offers anime Armored Core in a rather competent and somewhat simpler package. Sure, its narrative is bit throwaway, a trope-laden story about an AI uprising threatening to wipe out human civilization, that never quite reaches its full potential. And yeah, its mission design can grow fairly repetitive after a handful of hours of duking it out with machine-controlled…machines. But looking past these, you’re left with a compelling gameplay loop that’s as visually stylish as it is mechanically satisfying.
Because at the heart of Daemon X Machina is some deep customization. Much like Armored Core, every piece of your mech—called an Arsenal here—is tweakable. From the decals and paint jobs, to the armaments and chassis, no two Arsenals will look the same. You can easily lose plenty of hours adjusting and reworking your build to be flashier, stronger, both, or neither (if you so desire), allowing you to really flex your personal style on the field. It rules, especially since the game displays your Arsenal in the hangar in a very Neon Genesis Evangelion sorta way, letting you walk by and admire your masterpiece before heading into battle. Your character is equally as customizable, with a huge array of artificial parts (like eyes and legs), hairstyles, scars, and so much more. This is a game built for folks who love to tinker.
This game is also built for folks who love blowing shit up, and doing so feels especially rewarding. Combat in this third-person action-adventure is solid, giving your Arsenal a heft and speed that mirrors the likes of Gundam. You can equip up to six weapons at a time, switching between four of them on the fly in battle to destroy the other machine- and human-piloted mechs you fight against. Each weapon of the hundreds you pick up on the field and snatch off of fallen enemies feels distinct.
A melee-focused build will play significantly differently than one centered on ranged combat, providing a variety of playstyles to experiment with. Couple this variety with the cel-shaded, technicolor artstyle, and Daemon X Machina starts to really look and feel like a gorgeous amalgam of Armored Core, Gundam, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. This could be viewed as the game lacking an identity, but I see it as the opposite. It smartly remixes its influences into something both familiar and new, and I really believe this makes it worth a second chance.
So, yeah, Daemon X Machina is a solid 7/10 Armored Core-like. Considering it was produced by Kenichiro Tsukuda, someone who worked on AC2 and AC3, it’s no wonder it drew many comparisons to the once-slumbering franchise. And while sure, Armored Core VI certainly looks better, Daemon X Machina isn’t something you should sleep on. Seriously, check it out again, especially if you’re finished with Fires of Rubicon and want more mech action to chew through. The best part? Apparently a Daemon X Machina sequel is in the works.