Developer FuRyu consistently delivers creative experiences in niche gaming genres. However, their ambitious approach to these titles sometimes falls short, as seen in their new action JRPG, Crymachina. While the narrative writing is excellent, the gameplay elements and overall game loop struggle to keep pace. The result is a game that offers enjoyment in the moment but may only truly resonate with a small group of dedicated players who stick around to complete the adventure.
The Engrossing Narrative: Unveiling the Story of Crymachina
Crymachina introduces us to Lebel Distel, a girl who opens the story on the brink of death. Her last thoughts are filled with hatred for the human race, but her fate takes a surprising turn when she awakens years later as the “chosen one” tasked with saving humanity from extinction. The narrative gradually immerses players in this world, guided by Enoa, the eighth Dei ex Machina, created to restore humanity. However, power dynamics shift, and revelations divide the eight siblings, forcing Enoa into hiding before her inevitable destruction.
The game delves even deeper into this world by introducing the concept of Personality Data, transforming Lebel into an E.V.E. Though not technically human, the goal is to make her one. Two other E.V.E.s, Mikoto and Ami, have already been resurrected and become playable characters who assist Lebel in navigating this new reality.
With its sci-fi undertones, Crymachina draws inspiration from The Matrix, featuring constant battles against powerful adversaries who presumably manipulate events behind the scenes. It’s an ongoing struggle for control in a world filled with mechanical beings, and the game offers numerous twists and turns that I won’t spoil here.
However, it’s important to note that the story comprises a significant portion of the game, making Crymachina feel more like a visual novel with occasional gameplay segments that serve as intermissions for the narrative. Progressing to the next level often requires players to engage in scenarios labeled “Tea Party.” Initially, this might throw you off, but once you experience the gameplay, you’ll likely find yourself motivated by the captivating story. The game delivers memorable character interactions and compelling sci-fi storytelling throughout its 20-hour runtime, making it a worthwhile experience for those who appreciate a strong narrative.
Gameplay Analysis: A Deep Dive into Crymachina’s Mechanics
Unfortunately, the gameplay aspect falls short. Crymachina’s action systems struggle to meet expectations. The game loop is straightforward: you spend time in the Imitation Garden with your companions, preparing for upcoming missions. However, only one character can embark on a mission at a time, and the game often predetermines who that character will be.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Crymachina’s narrative captivates, but its gameplay disappoints, leaving players longing for more.[/perfectpullquote]
This setup leads to issues with character levels. Each mission has a recommended character level, and each character has their own level. While the experience earned is shared among the three characters, you must distribute it strategically to keep all of them sufficiently leveled for the recommended missions. Going into missions under-leveled is possible, but it often results in being defeated in a single hit.
Managing this balance is manageable in the early stages, but eventually, you’ll need to revisit previous levels to grind for experience, which becomes a tedious process. The missions themselves are short, typically lasting 5 to 20 minutes, but they follow a basic, repetitive structure that becomes increasingly apparent and wearisome as you progress.
The dungeon exploration, tied to the missions, doesn’t offer much incentive either. While you can find equipment and solve puzzles to unlock special arenas for powerful enemies, dying in these arenas requires a complete mission restart, including re-navigating the dungeon and re-solving the puzzle. This design oversight can be frustrating.
The combat mechanics also leave much to be desired. Although each character wields a different weapon type, they play similarly. You have a basic attack bound to the Square button, followed by a Triangle launching attack, and the use of L1 and R1 for mech skills. All available combat options are accessible from the outset and remain unchanged throughout the game.
Enemies can easily be stun-locked into a repetitive cycle of attacking, launching, and executing special moves. Additional actions, such as healing, calling for backup, or entering an Awakened state for stat boosts, are accessible through the D-Pad, but this system can be cumbersome as you cycle through options to select the desired action. Implementing hotkeys for these actions, especially healing, would have been a more convenient solution. The combat system lacks depth and strategy, and even the Parry and Dodge mechanics are hindered by odd timing and issues with locking onto multiple enemies.
Despite its gameplay flaws, the overall experience remains somewhat engaging. The captivating characters and their stories kept me invested, even through the repetitive gameplay. A significant contributor to this engagement is the voice acting, with Hikaru Tono, the voice actress for Enoa, delivering a standout performance that often moved me to tears. The final act of the game is particularly powerful and provides a satisfying conclusion to the journey.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The brilliant narrative in Crymachina may save it for dedicated fans, but its gameplay leaves much to be desired.[/perfectpullquote]
While Crymachina’s gameplay has its shortcomings, it can still be enjoyable at times, reminiscent of playing a nostalgic PS3 JRPG where you overlook certain design aspects to have fun. The game may appeal to those willing to look past its limitations. However, it’s important to note that Crymachina reveals its full potential within the first hour and doesn’t introduce new systems or abilities, making it necessary to grind through missions to reach the conclusion.
Final Verdict: Balancing Ambition and Enjoyment in Crymachina
Crymachina offers an immersive and well-told sci-fi drama that leaves a lasting emotional impact through its characters and the portrayal of humanity’s end. However, the gameplay fails to match the storytelling’s quality, presenting surface-level upgrade systems, and mission mechanics that can frustrate players. While ambitious, the game primarily excels in its campaign experience.
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