Since Anime Expo in July 2023, we have eagerly awaited the release of NIS America and Furyu Corporation’s game CRYMACHINA. At PAX West 2023, we had the opportunity to pick up where we last left off at Anime Expo. Like any demo or early stages within the game, the beginning area is laid out to give the player an idea of what they can expect throughout the game. Based on our two previews of the game, we expected CRYMACHINA to feature attractive animated AI women fighting evil robots to reform humanity. This was the overarching premise we got from the demo and after our time with Crymachina, we can say that it followed through somewhat. So what did we think of Furyu Coporation’s latest game? Find out in our CRYMACHINA review!
Developer: FURYU Corporation
Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
Platforms: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 24th, 2023 US ; October 27th, 2023 EU
At the start of CRYMACHINA, we are introduced to Leben, a human who died 2000 years before the events of the game, Enoa, “an Angel” who brought Leben back to life, and Mikoto, a skilled warrior already in Enoa’s family.
Upon waking up in a strange area, Leben must get used to her new cybernetic body and learn about her new allies. Enoa’s goal is to use the Eve project to revive humanity and stop her fellow Deus Ex Machina counterparts from foiling the plan. As the story progresses, the player learns that things aren’t exactly as they seem. As you explore new areas and fight the other Deus Ex Machina something feels off.
The story takes a dark turn when players learn that Enoa is being manipulated. This manipulation causes a rift between the team and results in one ally losing their head. Distraught by the revelation, the team devises a new strategy and looks to right their wrongs.
At first, Crymachina‘s story concept is fun and feels very dystopian with a nice sci-fi spin; however, as we progress through the game, the sci-fi tropes become more and more blatantly obvious and predictable. Rather than the story being told while exploring the beautiful environment, a small portion is explained in cutscene but most of the dialog takes place in the team’s hideout either at a meeting or during a tea party. The tea parties and dialog eventually feel convoluted and it is very easy to check out and just want to fast-forward through it.
What is potentially one of the biggest blunders with CRYMACHINA is the last of language dubbing beyond Japanese. Even if you are a fan of Japanese culture and anime, it is very easy to get bored or lose focus when characters go on long-winded discussions. Until you realize that you can speed up the dialog with auto-play, slogging through can make it feel slow, drawn out, and even boring.
Once Auto-Play is enabled though, the scenes move a lot faster. If you potentially miss a part of the dialog, you can rewind the dialog script and catch up. This does help with following the plot and can make it easier to fast-forward through some of the more boring aspects.
CRYMACHINA‘s story had the potential to be something we’ve rarely seen, however, some story options make it follow a more generic plot therefore losing its originality. The characters do have emotional depth despite being robots, but due to the massive amount of dialog you have to read, it is fairly easy to miss or get lost in the mix-up.
CRYMACHINA toes the lines of being a hack-and-slash adventure game like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta while still wanting to be challenging like a soulslike game. Outside of the game missing dubbed languages beyond Japanese, CRYMACHINA’s biggest flaw is empty levels. Despite having beautifully designed levels and characters, the levels themselves are fairly empty.
Yes, you will have at least one or two encounters throughout each stage, but these encounters are fairly short and forgettable. Each stage does have an optional fight for the player to try and fight, but during your first playthrough, these bosses will be fairly overpowered so it is not worth the time, unless you like to torture yourself.
The boss fights are the game’s meat and potatoes, but even those fall a bit short. Once you see the way a boss moves and the actions they do leading up to that attack, it is fairly easy to predict what will come next and either move around it, dodge it, or counter it.
Though some may be challenging at first, only one boss throughout the game made us have to redo the fight more than five times. In a way, this feels like a missed opportunity and makes these fights less memorable than other hack-and-slash boss fights.
Imitation Garden (World Hub)
Outside of the stages, the game’s main interaction menu takes place in the Imitation Garden. The garden’s menu is divided into four categories: Enoa, Materials, Combat Analysis, and Communication. In Communication, the player can change their character’s costumes or take part in different Tea parties.
These Tea parties are a mandatory aspect of the game pushing the story along, however, there are some optional ones. The Combat Analysis tab contains Achievements, Records, and Tips; in all honesty, this tab feels the most pointless and should have been replaced with the equipment and menu options.
In fact, it is fairly easy to miss the Equipment menu option since it has a small prompt at the bottom right corner of the screen. Within the equipment menu, the player can change each character’s Auxiliary weapon and chips, primary weapon, and armor. Each weapon has its own unique feel and play style so finding stats that match that style is important.
In the Materials menu, the player can look over any character data they might have missed. The Archive highlights any keywords that might be important. Players can check out the game’s music within the music player. Finally, the Personality Data Memoirs showcase important information about the main characters within the game.
The first menu, titled Enoa (8th Deus Ex Machina), is the primary menu; this is where you will select the mission you want to undertake. Additionally, players can save, load their saves, analyze code, and level up their team; team leveling up is divided into two categories E.V.E. Tuning and Combat Support Programs.
Combat Support Programs focus on Enoa’s ability to help the player through Awaken state, Emergency Repair, Remote Assault, and Data Collection. In order to level these skills, the player must spend EGO experience which can be a bit difficult to obtain.
With E.V.E. Tunning, the player can level up each fighter’s stats (Vitals, Willpower, and Fortitude) and scalability. Experience within the game has a shared community pool, so it is important to split the experience between each character.
Players should be aware of who they will have to play as in the next mission before power leveling a specific character. The player can level scalability either as a whole or individually; in order to level these stats, players must use the hard-to-earn EGO as well. The sub-category allows the player to upgrade each character’s Composure, Defiance, Reparability, Rationality, and Assertion.
CRYMACHINA is potentially one of the games we are most disappointed by in 2023. The game itself is fine but it feels like it could be so much more. The game’s combat feels mindless and empty for those who want a challenge.
Players who do have difficulty with combat can adjust the game’s difficulty to Casual Mode to make things easier. Casual Mode makes the game way too easy with bosses and regular enemies dying in a few hits. The story and each boss fight have cool concepts but the execution is a bit underwhelming.
The game lacks accessibility features making it a bit difficult for those with visual impairments or auditory impairments. In fact, the game lacks a ton of customizable settings that make it so you have to play how they want you to or not play at all; yes, you can invert the controls and adjust the sound settings, but that is about it.
At the end of the day, CRYMACHINA will become a game that some look at as having potential but failing to live up to it. The combat outside of boss/challenge fights feels uninspired and the levels lack substance. Don’t get us wrong, the game is beautifully designed visually but pretty graphics are just a small part of what can make a game great.
If you are considering getting CRYMACHINA, we suggest waiting. Instead, consider picking up Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Baldur’s Gate 3, A Silent Hope, Disgaea 7, or maybe even Starfield. If you are still on the fence, watch KillerKDemons’ playthrough of the game to get an idea if you will like it or not.
CRYMACHINA was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by NIS America. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. CRYMACHINA is launching on October 24, 2023, on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC (Steam), and Nintendo Switch.