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Daemon X Machina is the Full-Powered Mech Game the Switch Needs

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The Daemon X Machina demo offers an action-packed chance to check out the game’s potential, seeing as it is one of the first mech games to be available on the Switch. Showcasing the fast-paced gameplay, some customization, and a few downfalls, the demo shows much potential to have a new title that may start a new mech franchise that may rival the Armour Core series. In essence, the Daemon X Machina demo is a lot of fun with fast gameplay, but also a few setbacks that will hopefully be fixed by release.

The title does many things well but also has a few clunky aspects that hold it back. Shooting fast-moving enemies can be a challenge, and the developer’s answer to this difficulty is an intuitive lock-on; if the enemy is relatively in the center of the screen, the player’s Arsenal will target them. This feature is handy because it allows players to move quicker.  Another wonderful aspect about the game is its completely remappable controls, including a spot for two assist button that allows players to hotkey two button presses to do a specific function.

A particularly disappointing setback is how the flight is handled. One button is dedicated to jumping and ascending, while another disables flight, plunging the mech to the ground. Additionally, the Arsenal will rise or drop depending on movement and the angle one is looking. For example, if an enemy is below the character and the player is attacking while moving, they will either descend or ascend, which can cause countless issues when the level design includes obstacle-heavy terrain. These issues could be mended by more sensible controls, such as having separate buttons to ascend and descend and a double-tap to disable flight, similarly to Dragon Ball Z games’ flight mechanics. Having more control over the position of the Arsenal may make the player feel empowered and more like a pilot of an autonomous mech rather than a bipedal warplane.

Arsenals can equip a multitude of weapons, from special missile shoulder weapons and long-range guns to sword and shields, which offers freedom of play. Some of the automatic weapons will shoot as long as an enemy is within the lock-on portion of the screen, allowing the player to focus on movement. One shoulder equips a power weapon, such as a multi-lock-on missile launcher while the other uses auxiliary weaponry, such as grenades. Furthermore, the mech has storage spots allowing players to bring up to four handheld weapons that can be changed out on the fly. The weapon variety enables players to enter missions with more tools for different situations, allowing scope to take high power but slow-firing weapons for bigger and slower enemies as well as automatic weapons for the grunts. Having four weapons also allows more creativity when switching between close- and long-range.

One feature of the game that the demo nor trailers have delved into is that players can freely leave their Arsenal during the mission. Why one would leave the mech is still unknown at this point as no real information on what can be done in this section has yet to be released. The demo alludes to the player eventually gaining access to a sword later on. Although, the player does have a drone that flies around and assists in combat that is useable in the prototype missions. If the mech is heavily damaged the player can escape staying alive as this was useful against the boss, except the mech was not repairable so the game became slow paced as dying would mean getting the Arsenal back when retrying. Players can revive their NPC teammates when their mechs get taken down but not vice versa in the demo. If the lack of revival for the player is intentional or not is unclear but having teammates be able to revive the player would be a nice addition, helping to show that they care about their whole team, including the lowly rookie.

The demo takes the player through four missions. The first of these is the tutorial, with the next two being objective-based, and the last a boss fight. Between missions, players are able to run around the Arsenal hangar where they can purchase upgrades and make changes. Attaining equipment is rather simple, solely coming from fallen enemies. When inspecting fallen Arsonals on the battlefield, the player can choose one from a selection of components. By making the choice feel more important, players can enjoy an added layer of tension mid-combat. Specific upgrades will cause cosmetic changes to the pilot, giving them more robotic features. These robotic additions are somewhat unsettling, especially considering the primary enemy is a corrupted A.I. “type of lifeform” that assimilates other machines.

Lore is portrayed through a mission briefing before a level begins, while cutscenes and dialogue occur mid-mission to push the story forward. The player assumes the role of a rookie who is working with other mercenary groups taking contracts from an entity known as Orbital. The end goal is to control all areas of the Oval Link and take down the “Immortals,” a self-aware A.I. that is working to take out humanity. The story has a unique tension at play considering the player character’s descent into trans-humanism, as he ironically becomes more and more machine-based in efforts to preserve humanity. These discussions may become something that is pivotal to the story later on. The strange dichotomy between upgrading via machine parts and keeping one’s humanity may be a highlight.

The demo for Daemon X Machina only shows off the basics and, so far, these basics offer a strong foundation for gameplay and story progression. Having the ability to pick up and throw vehicles and objects is a novel inclusion to add more weapons to the player’s disposal. Furthermore, salvaging parts and weapons on the field add to the sense of warfare; when something is destroyed or a weapon runs out of ammunition, then quick thinking and resourcefulness can win a battle. While the movement may not hold up to the cinematic trailers, the game has a solid base to build off.

For more on Daemon X Machina and the world of single-player gaming, follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

A graduate of Game Development with a specialization in animation. A true love for all things creative especially Game Design and Story.

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Co-op Gaming Shines at EGX Rezzed With We Were Here Together, Phogs!, and Cake Bash

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Co-op gaming

Over the years, jolly co-op gaming has been in decline, especially from AAA developers. Several recent games have been standouts, such as A Way Out, Strange Brigade, and the Far Cry series, though the latest pioneers of co-op gaming will likely come from the indie community.

While exploring EGX Rezzed, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of mutual enjoyment as gamers came together to play a plethora of team-building games. Among these games were some of my personal highlights including We Were Here Together, Cake Bash, and Phogs!

We Were Here Together

We Were Here Together is the latest co-op adventure puzzle game by independent studio Total Mayhem Games.

The title continues on from two previously released projects, We Were Here and We Were Here Too, with the former available on Steam for free. Set amidst a frozen landscape, the first two games centred on exploring a mysterious castle while solving puzzles as part of a two-person team. Players were separated throughout the playthrough until the final moments, which featured a touching scene where the puzzling pals would eventually meet to conquer the remaining conundrums.

We Were Here Together immediately shakes things up by starting the game with both players working together in the same environment. The EGX demo starts off outside of the castle grounds in an expedition outpost where two explorers suddenly receive a distress call from somewhere in the frozen wastes. Players must work together to decipher an incoming transmission and correctly pinpoint the distress beacon.

The location itself is the answer to a series of puzzles, requiring both people to work together. A great example of teamwork is one player adjusting an outside satellite while the other stays inside to alter the radio’s frequency until a voice can be heard. This is where the creative ingenuity from the developers comes into play as solutions are different for each playthrough. The puzzles themselves remain the same, but, by using the same example as before, the voice may only be heard on a different frequency. Similar situations where the outcome changes include changing co-ordinates and figuring out which key may fit a particular door.

Roughly one-third of the game will be set in a shared environment while latter parts will take place back inside the castle in a traditional, separated format. Two paths are laid out later for the players to choose between, providing avenues for replayability. The changing solutions also add to the replay value as it prevents veteran gamers from going back and telling their new partner the answers.

The moments where players are physically apart highlight one of the unique features of the game: the radios. Both characters are equipped with walkie-talkies so players can communicate with each other. Radios are a brilliant immersion tool as the mechanic works exactly as a two-way radio should, with the wielder having to hold down a button to speak and release to hear the other. The radio mechanic is optional, though, as players can simply use a third-party chat. However, the added difficulty and roleplaying add an extra element to an already rather tricky title.

We Were Here Together is a fun shared experience that proves a challenge for even the most seasoned puzzle solvers. The release date and price of the project are unknown at present, but the game will be available on Steam.

Cake Bash

During EGX Rezzed 2019, the Coatsink team had a glorious display full of plush animals, colourful scenery, and even a rather large and comfortable dog bed.

I was lucky enough to go hands-on with Phogs! and play a few rounds of Cake Bash with PR and Events Manager Jack Sanderson. Both games proved to be a real treat to participants, with Cake Bash serving a much-needed helping of raucous fun in a series of mini-games.

Not unlike many beloved party games—such as Mario PartyCake Bash is an up-to-four-player competitive game featuring several rounds of friendship-ending challenges. The design of the title instantly stands out with an adorable and vivid visual style that brings a certain charm to the characters and settings.

Before each round, players choose a character from a selection of delicious desserts as their combatant. During the demo, only two game modes were available, the first of which required players to gather falling pieces of fruit and throw them inside a giant meringue. A single point is awarded for successfully tossing a piece of fruit into the bowl. However, a rare golden fruit, worth ten points, will appear every so often. Competitors must be wary of descending fiery boulders that can briefly daze any dessert. These boulders can also be picked up and lobbed at rivals. Not only can enemies launch these rocks at one another, but they can also punch and beat each other to force someone to drop their fruit.

The second mode available was a race to gather the most jellies to become the tastiest treat. Player avatars run around an arena, gathering multi-coloured jelly beans to cover their chosen dessert, and the sweet with the most treats at the end wins. While the first game mode mainly had the individual focusing on their own points, this round directly pits people against each other as limited jellies can be found, and players can steal them by whacking opponents.

While the game looks stunning, gamers will have to wait until 2020 to get their hands on Cake Bash. The late release has allowed for an increase in scope and additional modes for players to sink their teeth into.

Phogs!

The other title playable at the event was an equally adorable project called Phogs! The game can be played solo or with a friend, as the player controls one or both halves of a two-headed dog. The two heads can be moved independently and are able to stretch, bark, and bite.

Phogs! is set in a dream-like environment where the ground is made up of soft duvet sets and pillows, while the skies are filled with tranquil clouds gently floating in the distance. The level designs are built in a way that eases the player into the various mechanics, offering something new or demonstrating different ways to solve puzzles. Early enigmas would require both sides of the dog to work in unison to pull an object or levers simultaneously. Later levels would add a glowing orb that can be used to remove dark shadowy walls or illuminate pathways to walk across. Even the orbs are based around the idea of working as a team as one side of the dog bites onto the light ball with the other opening their mouth to act as a torch.

The charming personality of the game really shines in the various character designs and their functions within the levels. One of the final missions of the demo featured a sleeping giant that dreamed of bridges in floating thought bubbles. Players could then use the camera perspective to align the dream bridge with a section of a missing platform to cross. Other cutesy critters include wailing alarm clocks that can disturb the giants, preventing them from dreaming up a way to progress. The clocks can be led to nearby beds where they will quickly start to drift off and stop ringing.

Despite the levels being fairly linear, additional tasks can be completed to gain collectable dog biscuits. These tasks often require the dog to present characters with a particular item, for example, bringing a storybook to an owl.

The whole experience with Coatsink was a delight, both games offering a mix of controller-clenching competition and jolly cooperation. Like Cake Bash, Phogs! will also be arriving in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.


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