Crymachina review — Androids shedding tears

I’m a sucker for anything cyberpunk themed, so when I stumbled upon FuRyu’s upcoming post-apocalyptic action role playing game Crymachina, I knew I wanted to get my hands on it. For those familiar with the developer and their past projects, you’ll probably notice a striking similarity between this game and Crystar. Despite feeling like a spiritual successor due to its similar naming and aesthetics, this game is an entirely new experience of its own. Crymachina is set in a distant world where humans have become extinct, and machines known as Deus Ex Machina have been deployed to recreate humanity once again.

You take on the role of a young girl named Lebel Distel, who awakens from her stupor after falling ill in the real world and passing away. Her soul and consciousness have been uploaded in a digital world known as Eden by a mysterious android known as Enoa, and it is then that she learns about what it takes to become a real human again. Soon after she meets supporting characters Mikoto Sengiku and Ami Shido, two other girls who have been resurrected in the same way Lebel has. You learn that there were initially eight Deus Ex Machinas, but as time went on, each AI wanted something different, resulting in an internal civil war of sorts. 

Crymachina - First 20 Minutes on PS5 [GamingTrend]

You learn that Enoa is actually the eighth machina, and it is her goal to help Lebel and the rest of the girls to become humans again. Thus starts your journey to seek out and defeat the other rogue machinas. The narrative definitely presents an interesting and refreshing premise to reel the player in, as you often question what it means to be human and what it means to be an android. Lebel, in particular, actually rejects the idea of restoring humanity, as humans aren’t so great to begin with. The dialogue between characters strikes a good balance between philosophical and comedic, depending on context. What I wasn’t a huge fan of is the lack of cutscenes, as most of the story and dialogue sequences are presented via visual novel style static image panels. 

Most of FuRyu’s projects are very niche and generally enjoyed by players in Japan, but it’s nice to see their titles being localized so they can be played by fans from the west as well. However, it should be noted that only the subtitles have been translated to English, as the dialogue is only fully voiced in Japanese. Sorry to those who prefer an English dub instead. That being said, I found the Japanese voice acting to be quite impressive, despite my not understanding any Japanese, as each character felt like they fit their role extremely well, in terms of tone and diction.

Your base of operations is called the Imitation Garden, and unfortunately, it’s not an interactive destination, but instead just a static backdrop with tons of menus to navigate. It is here that you must participate in mandatory dialogue sections known as Tea Time with your friends to further develop the story. Let me just tell you now: there’s a lot of dialogue, and I mean a lot, so if you don’t understand Japanese, get ready to read through essays of subtitles. Thankfully you can skip and fast forward through them, but then you’d just be bypassing the entire narrative. All of your upgrades, tinkering, and customization are done here in the garden as well, including saving the game.

Only after sitting through the Tea Time sessions can you select missions to go on. This is not an open world game and everything is mission-based. Remember you’re not actually a real human in the world of Eden, so every character has a cybernetic robot suit to jump into outside of the Imitation Garden. Lebel, Mikoto, and Ami all have their own mech-suits, each boasting a different arsenal of tools and weaponry. For example, Lebel wields a spear/lance of sorts whereas Mikoto has access to a giant buster blade. Certain stages only let you play as one character whereas others allow you to pick whichever. You have standard light melee attacks along with heavy charged ones. Attached to your suits are also ranged weapons that include laser beams and arrows. Once a stagger bar is filled on an enemy, you can perform knockup attacks and even flashy finishers.

The hack and slash combat is quite intuitive and flashy, and you can feel the impactfulness of each weapon strike. Aside from your ranged and melee attacks there is also an ability known as Awakening which pretty much turns your character berserk, which you can activate to gain an upper hand in battle. However, the perfect dodge system does take some getting used to, as the window is quite tight and sometimes hard to see given how frantic combat can get. There are times when the screen is so full of arrays of bright colors that it’s hard to see what’s going on. Think bullet hell and you’ll get a good idea of what I’m referring to. Chaining attacks together in a dance-like fashion is extremely fun but can get tiresome and monotonous after a while because enemies are quite spongey. Thankfully, there is a “Chill” mode that can reduce some of that artificial difficulty down.

Level design is mostly linear and straightforward, but there are optional side areas to explore that can lead to secret bosses or loot. Various collectibles can be found scattered throughout each stage, with some fitting the theme of restoring humanity as they are lost memories. Expect to do some light platforming and puzzle solving as well, which is a nice change of pace from combat. Sometimes you’ll find a mysterious peddler called Noah who sells you items you can purchase to unlock further skills and abilities for your character. Progression is experience based, and you can spend a currency called EGO to level up your characters. Every piece of equipment can be upgraded and tuned, but there’s a bit of a learning curve because the game doesn’t do a good job at explaining all of its systems.

Graphically speaking, Crymachina doesn’t exactly scream next-generation when it comes to its visuals. I would say it does look better than the developer’s previous games because they shifted from Unity to Unreal Engine with this title. The character models and overall art styles are well designed, but the environments are extremely drab and dull. I get that each level is loading into some digital coordinate in a master computer system, but every single stage is simply just the same corridor or platform copy pasted or reshuffled from another one. 

Grunt enemy variety, all mechs in this case, are overused and present little to no challenge. The bosses, on the other hand, especially the other Deus Ex Machinas, present visually distinctive animations and attack patterns. Ecclesia, the second machina, is this giant eldritch looking being with glowy red eyes, whereas Logos, the sixth machina, is a huge whale with a blue halo around it. The main cast of characters contains some extremely slick looking creatures here, but I feel as if the developers didn’t put as much effort into the rest of the game. 

The game runs flawlessly on the PlayStation 5, with smooth frame rates and fast load times. There’s no graphical or performance mode here, but that isn’t a huge deal considering the game looks and performs great as is. What’s included is also a photo mode, which you can unlock later on. A complete playthrough of the game should take the average player somewhere between 15 and 20 hours, although you can expect a lot more if you’re a completionist.

An avid enthusiast of both tabletop and video games, finding endless joy in exploring different realms of entertainment!




Review Guidelines

I believe that FuRyu laid down a solid foundation here with Crymachina. The narrative is there, the characters are there, the gameplay is there, but the nuts and bolts that glue all of them together aren’t. This isn’t to say the overall game isn’t fun, but it could have been so much better. The game’s overall gameplay loop is simply monotonous and dull. It boils down to sitting through mandatory dialogue sections and then running through a dungeon with one to two mandatory battles, and then fighting the boss. The concept of gaining humanity and questioning the whole concept of what it means to be human is a heavy and melancholic theme. I just wish it was delivered in a smoother manner. Even the naming of the game makes sense. Can machines even cry? If you’re into the whole mechanical girls fighting robots and trying to save humanity thing, then there might be something here for you.

Henry Viola

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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