Following the success of CRYSTAR, FuRyu and AQURIA’s CRYMACHINA is an intriguing action RPG that emphasizes raw emotions in its narrative, which involves the near-extinction of humanity. At the start of CRYMACHINA, players watch a young woman named Leben Distel being driven into despair as she and her sister die from a brutal disease. In her final moments, Lebel acknowledges how painful life can be, and she still wishes to live despite her death being absolute. Her death does not appear to be final as she awakens in a mechanical body in an unknown setting, full of life once more. CRYMACHINA immediately captured my attention with this opening sequence, and there’s plenty more that excites me about this new RPG.
CRYMACHINA plays similarly to 2019’s CRYSTAR, but the game offers the power fantasy that comes with controlling a powerful cybernetic being in a futuristic setting. The game presents a bleak premise where humanity is reaching its end, but there’s a glimmer of hope as Leben and other young women have the potential to become “real humans.” To become as human as they once were in life, Lebel and the others must earn ExP and EGO to evolve from their cybernetic bodies. Additionally, the girls have the opportunity to enjoy some of life’s niceties once more as they’re guided by the mysterious Enoa. Her assistance is necessary in uncovering the mysterious of the “world” of Eden.
CRYMACHINA – A Distant Future Shrouded in Mystery
2,000 years after her death, Lebel awakens in a cybernetic body on Eden, a dyson sphere that gathers energy from a star in space. This world of incomprehensive scale was developed by the last vestiges of humanity and its greatest achievement, the Dei ex Machina. Dei ex Machina are self-evolving machine gods that work toward the restoration of humanity. Lebel is immediately aided by the Enoa, the Deus ex Machina of psyche reconstruction, who was waiting for her to arrive in Eden.
Enoa quickly informs Lebel of the situation, revealing that Lebel is now an E.V.E unit, a cybernetic being whose personality was regenerated by the machine god. After undergoing a combat trial of sorts and being rescued by Mikoto, Enoa reveals her group’s ultimate goal since Lebel has arrived—defeating the other Dei ex Machina and reaching the status of “Real Human.”
Lebel is designated as the “Chosen One” since she’s the most capable of becoming a Real Human, and Enoa believes she will be able to restore humanity. She will be aided by the resilient Mikoto and the passionate Ami, who are around the same age as Lebel. From here, a bleak future turns out to have some wholesome and endearing undertones in CRYMACHINA.
Lebel gets to know her new companions over discussions and tea in Imitation Garden, a virtual world devised by Enoa that allows the group to assume human bodies again. CRYMACHINA’s Tea Party feature moves the story along with required scenes, and players may learn even more about the characters through the optional scenes, too. All of these scenes are voiced in Japan along with main story cutscenes, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, missions progress the story of CRYMACHINA as well.
Clean, Cybernetic Action
CRYMACHINA has a satisfying, fast-paced combat system with very light shoot ’em up elements. Players are in direct control of an E.V.E unit and their uniquely designed weapon. For instance, Leben specializes in close-to-mid range combat at high speeds with her Gungnir spear. Combos feel light and swift in CRYMACHINA, and enemies may even be juggled with the right setup.
Each E.V.E unit also has a “Shooting Mode” with the left trigger, allowing them to shoot targets from an over-the-shoulder perspective. Every attack builds up an enemy’s a “WEAK” Gauge, which stuns them once it’s completely full. Once the enemy is stunned, critical hits will deal even more damage and a “Finishing Assault” attack may be used. Common enemies may be stunned quite easily, and an onslaught of attacks and correctly timed counters are required to stun bosses.
E.V.E units have a wide variety of Auxiliaries, which act as additional armaments that may be equipped with modifiers known as “Sentiments.” In short, Auxiliaries and Sentiments provide extra DPS and abilities that help each unit excel in combat. At the start of the game, Lebel is equipped with tracking stakes that serve as a decent well-rounded option. New Auxiliaries and Sentiments may be equipped to each character from the Equipment Menu, so this particular aspect of the game is fairly straight forward.
ExP is earned upon enemy defeats and may be distributed to each character back at the Imitation Garden in E.V.E Tuning. ExP is self-explanatory, but EGO may be used in a variety of ways. EGO may be earned from enemy defeats, completing Tea Party conversations, and the Code Analysis feature. It’s a vital resource for raising certain parameters, trading for Personality Data, and upgrading Enoa’s Combat Support Programs, which is quite useful once fights become more challenging.
Players may enter levels from the Data Transport Terminal, which sends the E.V.E unit to different parts of Eden. Levels are rather linear, but there are different paths that players can take to reach optional bosses, new rewards, and additional scenes. As a result, players may want to backtrack to previously completed levels later on. The game’s levels have a deeply mechanical aesthetic with music that drives the atmosphere even further, and I enjoyed exploring them and defeating enemies to help Lebel and the rest of the girls become stronger.
Enemies will typically spawn and section off a portion of the level during a battle. Many of the game’s levels involve traversing from the starting point, defeating enemies, and activating a gateway or facing a boss at the very end. Although this sounds extremely simple, CRYMACHINA involves cutscenes and in-engine dialogue between characters for main story levels. Occasionally, the mysterious merchant Noah may appear as well.
Eden appears to be lifeless and dreary at first, but CRYMACHINA has some subtle elements that show a desolate dyson sphere of machinery could offer some diversity and intrigue. For instance, Lebel admires large space whales in one of CRYMACHINA’s levels since its her favorite animal. The scenery will differ depending on the sector and its corresponding Deus ex Machina as well.
While progressing and completing levels, players may add new entries to a growing archive of information, which reminds me of Monark’s text message system to a certain extent. In fact, some of the archive entries include codes that may be entered to unlock new levels with rare gear. These optional levels are tougher than story levels, for sure.
CRYMACHINA on Nintendo Switch
I was pleasantly surprised with performance of CRYMACHINA on Nintendo Switch. The edges of character models are somewhat washed out and blurry, but the characters still look great in docked and handheld modes. The in-game artstyle is very eye catching, and some of the cutscenes involving Enoa look especially impressive.
CRYMACHINA’s frame rate holds up quite nicely at 30 FPS on Nintendo Switch, promoting a smooth gameplay experience. I didn’t encounter any frame dips or performance issues either, so I’m satisfied with the Nintendo Switch version. The PlayStation 5 and PC versions will offer much more vivid texture quality and higher performance, of course.
Aside from a few typos in archive entries, the CRYMACHINA localization is really great. The Japanese voice acting is quite extensive in CRYMACHINA with main story dialogue, in-battle prompts, and optional and required Tea Party scenes all being fully voiced. I don’t think I can point out a single scene that didn’t have voice acting by the stellar cast. However, I can see the lack of an English dub being a point of contention for some fans who have played CRYSTAR.
CRYMACHINA is a Solid Action RPG with Great Characters
CRYMACHINA delivers an intriguing 20 to 30 hour story and enough content to last roughly 40 hours or so. I found the cast of characters to be endearing and interesting in their own ways since CRYMACHINA gives the player time to get to know each character through the Tea Party feature. CRYMACHINA is a clear winner for those who want an emotional, action-driven story with wholesome elements scattered throughout.
The action RPG’s combat system is simple, but there’s enough depth to keep me invested from start to finish as I make each E.V.E unit stronger. At first, the Auxiliaries and Sentiment customization system was confusing, but I became accustomed to how E.V.E energy usage works after a few levels. CRYMACHINA’s in-game levels leave something to be desired at times, but I still enjoyed going through them to experience the story and pull off stylish combos.
In summary, CRYMACHINA in a solid action RPG from start to finish, and the premise of mechanical girls trying to become human again is one that immediately won me over. I very much enjoyed seeing the story unfold as it peered back into the characters’ past lives. Those who enjoyed CRYSTAR will likely enjoy CRYMACHINA due to the game’s cast of characters and smooth combat system, and vice versa.
Disclaimer: NIS America provided a Nintendo Switch copy of CRYMACHINA for review purposes.