Crymachina is a hyper stylized action RPG full of dynamic visuals, striking character design, and fast-paced action. It takes place in the mechanical world of Eden, long after humanity has already passed. Eden is governed by eight Dei ex Machina, which are autonomous machines responsible for reconstructing a certain aspect of humanity. As the protagonist Leben is seemingly revived in a mechanical body, she realizes that these Dei ex Machina have also been embroiled in conflict. She fights alongside others as they engage these Dei ex Machina and strive to become human, which becomes more complicated than it initially seems to be.
Crymachina’s universe is one of its biggest strengths. While the environments are ultimately all mechanical, they are packed with luminous, enchanting details. Each new world almost feels like journeying into a different piece of modern art. The terminology is slightly overwhelming at first and perhaps even stereotypical at times, but it does a beautiful job of framing the characters’ conflict.
Another strength is the characters, both in terms of design and personality. The Dei ex Machina all look imposing, and the playable characters’ “casual” and mechanical designs all feel sleek, stylish, and unique. These characters truly grow throughout the course of the game. Leben is initially quite antisocial, but it is incredibly fascinating hearing her goals change over time. She and her teammates’ interactions are truly heartwarming, even if each character is slightly archetypal. Furthermore, some of their lines are incredibly emotional and impactful. The game also really pushes mandatory and optional skits for further character development. Oftentimes, hearing these characters banter about every day life is pretty amusing.
Furthermore, the combat is fast and responsive. It follows action RPG tropes as players hack and slash and dash in order to set up launch attacks and finishers. But the game also has a few twists. Players can select two autonomous sub-weapons and slot in skills. These weapons need to be manually activated in battle, but they will then deploy skills automatically. These generally result in some pretty helpful if over-the-top shenanigans. Players can also utilize a ranged chargeable shot to shake things up. While its mechanics are not the most groundbreaking, the game does feel fun to play. Each of the three characters unleashes kinetic, stylish attacks with plenty of visual flair.
The game’s soundscape is also quite impressive. These tunes are haunting and enthralling as they often use subdued melodies. Much of the boss music makes ample use of low key singing, which is just a joy to listen to. Thankfully, the game has a built-in sound test so players can listen to these tunes back at their home base.
Unfortunately, Crymachina also has some strange quirks that may be off-putting. Its progression is fairly draconian as players cannot level up in battle. Instead, players apply acquired experience points to a specific character back at home base. This can be dicey as everyone essentially needs to be leveled equally. Each new stage forces a specific character pick, so it can feel pretty jarring if someone is underleveled.
The balance between party levels and the enemy’s can also feel lopsided. Each stage has designated level requirements that can jump quickly as the game progresses. This necessitates some grinding by re-entering earlier stages, or even going into a new stage and warping out over and over. Even if a party member is just a level or two off from the requirements, a stray projectile or enemy attack can still inflict considerable damage. The steep enemy level jump in the last stretch of the game especially throws a wrench into the pacing and requires hours of grinding, though the game’s Casual Mode can help mitigate some of the grinding if necessary.
Unfortunately, much of the game’s level design is rather uninspired. Each area is fundamentally a tunnel, so opportunities to venture off the beaten path are far and few between. The few platforming sections also feel tacked-on and unnecessary. Some levels essentially just lead to the boss as dialogue plays in the background, which can be strange.
The game also has a lot of dialogue, which is a double-edged sword. Although the voice acting is enthusiastic and certainly worth listening to, the sheer amount of dialogue can sometimes feel overboard. If the player wipes or leaves a stage early, the game will present the same cutscenes all over again, which feels a bit stiff. Scenes can almost always be skipped, but in general these sequences are packed with lore and skipping might not be advisable. It also would have been helpful to see a more typical dialogue log. Most games would allow you to see a list of the previous messages, but Crymachina requires scrolling through each previous line one by one, which is a bit tedious.
Upgrading also involves more effort than one would expect. The stats and gear all have terminology that differ from roleplaying tropes. These terms feel in-universe, but it can also take a bit of adjustment on the player’s part. The process of juggling experience points, EGO (skill points), weapons, sub-weapons, and attachments all take some menu digging, and to some degree it feels like these could have been consolidated in some way. Deciding whether to spend EGO on “global” power-ups or individual character boosts is a fun process. However, the costs exponentially increase in a way that it can become difficult to utilize these systems to their fullest unless players repeatedly revisit areas to grind.
In the grand scheme, however, Crymachina’s sheer heart really shines through all of these oddities. The journey is really packed with wonder as it drops some fairly surprising and heavy-hitting plot twists. The game interestingly tackles the intersection of man and machine, and it certainly addresses what it means to be human. Despite its balancing and system quirks, Crymachina provides plenty of thrills for those into over-the-top stylized action or anime-inspired games. It can be about an eighteen to twenty hour run depending on how much you want to explore, and the game offers plenty of optional encounters as well. Crymachina’s world truly is a sight to behold, and we believe players will enjoy diving into Eden.
Crymachina is full of compelling character design, dialogue, worldbuilding, and music. Despite the game's quirks and balancing, it can provide plenty of kinetic action RPG thrills.