Anyone remember Armored Core? This was an awesome mech action game series that started in the 90s, which quickly garnered a small but dedicated fan-base upon release. The game revolved around you piloting a mech through a series of missions, while destroying everything in sight. You could customize your giant robot in a variety of ways, but you had to be careful about what you put on your mech.
You put on too much armor on and your mech would become slow-moving and more of a target, while putting on less gear made you faster. You had to have the right balance when it comes to your mech build, or else you’d get obliterated. Armored Core was a series that ran for a whopping 16 years, while generating many titles in the process.
Developed by FromSoftware, it seemed like the series was destined to keep going until until the end of time. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out that way. The last game in the series came out in 2013 with very little fanfare, resulting in the series effectively dying. It’s been 6 years and we still haven’t heard anything about a new Armored Core game, but there is definitely hope on the horizon.
During last year’s E3, we were given a teaser for an interesting new game called “Daemon X Machina”. Being worked on by people who created the original Armored Core games, Daemon X Machina is essentially a “Spiritual Successor” to the original AC games. The game is being developed exclusively for Nintendo Switch, and features a unique and stylish art-style.
You play as a customizable pilot of a mecha called an “Arsenal”. You can swap out parts of your Arsenal for better equipment, but have to keep in mind weight distribution. For all intensive purposes, Daemon X Machina is essentially a fusion of Monster Hunter and Armored Core. You take on missions from your base, where you can customize your robot and character. From there, you go on missions where you fight robots and earn new gear.
You can also “upgrade” your human avatar, which will give him cybernetic enhancements that he can use outside of his mech. Of course, your human character will always be much weaker than your giant robot, which means that you can’t rely on it as much.
While the game won’t be released for a while, Nintendo did put a demo called “Prototype Missions”. I was able to play through the first few missions of the game and truly experience what it had to offer for myself, which I dug quite a bit. The visuals were gorgeous, the action was fast and fun, and the customization was fantastic.
Unfortunately, the few missions I did play had some severe problems. There was a sufficient lack of variety in mission structure, with most missions boiling down to “kill everything and move on”. On top of this, the cybernetic upgrades to your character didn’t seem to add all that much. For example, I got a mechanical arm that could sprout out a really cool beam sword to attack foes with.
The problem is that its almost entirely useless! I can only attack ground enemies with it, since I can’t really fly while not in the mech. The most I can do is swat at tanks with it, which are already easy enough to destroy without the sword. As annoying as the things I listed are, there’s one thing in this entire demo that watered down my experience: The boss fight. I kid you not, I spent 40 minutes trying to beat this thing and still couldn’t pull it off.
The boss is way too large and has way too much health, making the fight an annoying endurance match. You’ll run out of ammo halfway through it and will be forced to rely on your useless teammates. It’s just way too annoying to be fun and ended up draining most of the enjoyment the demo gave me.
I really hope that not all bosses in the main game are like this, or I will most likely go bald from pulling out my hair in frustration. I get that they were trying to make the first boss a giant damage-sponge, but it doesn’t work too well in a mech game. Regardless, I feel like the boss fight itself was the worst part of my experience with the demo.
I still have faith in Daemon X Machina, but the developers are going to have to work super hard to iron out all the kinks before release. If the game releases in a state where the bosses are frustrating un-fun chores to fight, the mission structure remains formulaic, and the cyborg upgrades remain useless, then I imagine this game will be unable to to garner a true fan-base. After all, problems like that can sometimes keep players away.
I imagine Daemon X Machina will be a game with a niche audience regardless, like most robot games that end up getting released. Regardless of how good the game actually is, it’ll only sell to certain people. I hope that Daemon can manage a solid release, since it’ll need all the good press it can get if it hopes to sell.