Friday, July 19, 2024

Searching for Humanity in a Post-Apocalyptic World

Let’s be honest, there is a good chance that CRYMACHINA got your attention because of how similar it is to NieR Automata. That was my first thought when the game was announced and it was enough to get me excited. While it does share some story elements, that is where the similarities end. CRYMACHINA is a thought-provoking experience that explores what it means to be human through an RPG with visual novel elements. It will get your attention with its visual design and musical score. You will want to keep playing because of the story and the intense combat.

Kill to Survive

A devastating ailment, known as the Centrifugal Syndrome, decimated the human population during the 21st century. In an attempt to save humanity in the future, the world of Eden is created along with the androids and AI that control it. Under the leadership of the Deus ex Machina’s, they work to reconstruct the human psyche by reproducing human souls in the form of Personality Data using the EVE. However; everything is tossed into disarray when the Propator (the First Deus ex Machina) disappears. Some continue with their directive while others have strayed from their mission. Players take on the role of three EVE’s: Leben Distel, Mikoto Sengiku, and Ami Shindo. Having been awakened by Enoa (the Eight Deus ex Machina), they need to collect the ExP needed to become human once again. To achieve this goal, they have to battle their way through the virtual world while having their skills tested.

Working in tandem with the story is the stunning and gritty visual design choices. Its anime inspired visuals combined with its use of neon colors truly help bring this cyberpunk world to life. Visually it’s stunning given how much it can do with very few details. The design also allows the game to offset some of the darkness by giving players a sense of joy. Of course, one can’t also overlook the soundtrack that perfectly sets the mode of each moment.

Become a Real Human

CRYMACHINA gameplay is a mix of an action RPG with elements of a visual novel in regards to telling the story. It’s at the Tea Party that you will learn about who you are and the world. You will also learn more about what your character needs to do. It also allows players to learn more not just about the core characters but also those who provide support. Some of the moments will require your presence while others are going to be optional.

Regarding the combat, players into the action from the start with an easy-to-understand tutorial. Combat is easy to understand and requires no time to master but you don’t want to be too dependent on the hack’n slash techniques. At the same time, you want to become familiar with each character’s abilities and how to best use them. Finally; leveling up is made possible by collecting Ego’s. After completing each mission or attending a Tea Party moment, players will earn Ego. This can be used to boost a characters skillset or make upgrades that are shared among the group (via the Combat Support Program). One should definitely focus on boosting the perks of the Combat Support Program as it will make your playthrough a lot easier. Overall; CRYMACHINA has a gameplay setup that genre fans will be familiar with. This allows anyone to easily pick up the game and get right into it.

Brink of Extinction

One thing I can assure you is that CRYMACHINA cannot be accused of being a rip-off of NieR Automata. It does so much to stand on its own and be its own game. However, it does have some issues of its own that hold it back. Key among them are the tutorial’s strict passing requirements and the repetitive level designs.

This is an issue I found annoying when I first played the demo. To complete the tutorial, you need to attack the enemy using the required moves as instructed. For some actions, this can be a tedious process and chances are I’m going to forget about it. However; the tutorial is gonna require you to complete it in a certain way. Not the worst example but it’s one of those elements that I find annoying. Next is the boring levels as they get repetitive while failing to capitalize on the design or setting. CRYMACHINA is visually mesmerizing with its colorful but grim artistic choices. Unfortunately; the levels fail to capitalize on this concept in so many ways. You will notice in no time how repetitive the levels will feel while offering very little regarding to verity.

Despite these shortcomings, it’s not enough to hamper my playthrough.

Finding Your Humanity

The balance between the visual novel elements and the action RPG gameplay allows CRYMACHINA to be a thought-provoking experience. It’s a game that explores the concept of being human through its storytelling while creating a world with its visual design and musical score.

Disclaimer: NIS America provided the game used for this review. This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic. 8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides insight into gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

CRYMACHINA (PC)

Pros

  • A thought provoking story that explores what it means to be human.
  • Visually stunning and grity artistic choices.
  • A gameplay setup that genre fans will be familiar with.
  • Solid balence between visual novel elements and the ARPG gameplay.

Cons

  • Tutorial has some shortcomings as it makes you do things in a certain way.
  • Boring levels that get repetive while failing to capitalize on design or setting.

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Stan Rezaee is the founder and Editor of 8Bit/Digi. He is a journalist and gamer from the Bay Area who has been writing about the medium for over five years.

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