Crymachina - PS4 Review

Crymachina by developer FuRyu and Aquria and publisher NIS AmericaPS4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Initialize -> RealHumanProduction.exe
Install -> HumanPersonalityData_LebenDistel; E.V.E. startup

HelloWorld, welcome to the world of Crymachina, a world set in a future where humanity has had some rather serious survival issues. A sort of sequel to Crystar, Crymachina expands on the gameplay in a new setting.

The world of Crymachina takes place in a (hopefully) far off future, where humanity has died out. In their last moments, they have sent a space vessel to the stars, loaded with the pinnacle of humanity's technological advancement in the form of eight super advanced AI machines. These machines, or the Dei ex Machina, are tasked with reproducing humanity through an advanced method that's basically the equivalent of "rolling dice till you get a result you like", and each has their own area of expertise that they're in charge of. Created through the personality data of simulated beings, three subjects have been chosen to become "Real Humans" as defined by the Dei ex Machina in charge of defining humanity.

So you spawn in as Leben Distel, a young girl who has a vague memory of maybe who she is, installed in a mechanical body. Unfortunately for her, some of the Dei ex Machina have decided to fight amongst themselves. The Dei ex Machina that produced Leben, Enoa, is the one in charge of trying to reproduce humanity, and Leben is her most recent, and probably last available, attempt, as the other Dei ex Machina have driven her into a corner.

As Leben is joined by Mikoto and Ami, two other human potentials, referred to as E.V.E., she decides to strive to be labelled as a "True Human" in order to secure a future for herself. Unfortunately, the other Dei ex Machina are generally more than willing to create warriors out of other personality data in an attempt to crush them, and Enoa, under heel. As such, not only do the E.V.E. subjects need to become human, they also need to fight in order to survive, hopefully becoming more human in the process.

Crymachina is, in retrospect, a very interesting look into what it truly means to be "human", and whether or not that definition even matters in the end. There is a lot of discussion, both amongst the E.V.E., as well as the Dei ex Machina who have almost all developed a form of consciousness and personality despite being machines, about what defines who they are and what should define their existence. Not gonna lie, there were some rather potent philosophical moments as well as heartfelt moments. Despite this, I do have to warn you that your enjoyment will probably depend mostly on how you play games in general, as opposed to any given aspect of the game really.

Gameplay through the main story will follow a basic loop of completing a stage, returning to your base and chatting amongst yourselves, and then heading back out into a new stage to fight your way through. Most of your time will probably be spent in stages, where you will have to get to the end and then fight a boss type enemy in order to proceed. This ends up being an interesting style that's fairly similar to Crystar, or if you haven't played Crystar then it's a 3D action style hack and slash type gameplay, although with fewer enemies at one time than you would normally see in these genres.

When in a stage, you will be in control of the E.V.E. that is generally selected for you on your first run, or your chosen character any time afterwards or for free stages. You move around a 3D map, doing some light platforming, avoiding traps, triggering switches, and fighting enemies. When you do encounter enemies, you will usually be trapped in a barrier and need to defeat the enemies in order to proceed.

Combat is an interesting function in Crymachina. You have some of your standards, such as a jump, a dash/dodge, a guard counter, and your standard attack combos. You also have two auxiliary pieces of equipment, support moves Enoa can use to help you, charged moves, and some interesting mechanics. Fighting is actually a really interesting activity, as there are some mechanics involved that are pretty interesting. Basically, stage bosses have two types of guard gauges, and usually have auxiliary weapons similar to the player. One gauge is a barrier that prevents flinching, and another is to put an enemy in a "weak" state. You can launch "weak" enemies, and if they get "downed" you can use a finisher move. Some enemy moves can be countered, some need to be dodged, and finding enemy patterns and adopting a playstyle is a pretty fancy dance.

Auxiliary weapons are a cool idea, as they have gauges with points you expend when using an auxiliary that refills over time. Each action with an auxiliary weapon is slotted in an action bar specific to the weapon equipped that can have different slots for moves. As an example, you can get two of the same weapon, one with three slots for a normal combo in a row, and another may only have one. There are also EX combo lines that have different possible requirements, such as "enemy is 'x' distance away" or "health below 'x' percent". Each use of auxiliary move consumes points from the auxiliary weapon gauge, and will refill over time. You can get a lot of customization, as not only are there a fair number of different weapons, each with different attack move types associated with the weapons, but you can also find what are called "sentiments", which is what you slot in to your weapon combo bars.

Once you beat the boss of the stage, you're rewarded with personality data from the boss. Once you return to your home base, you can have Enoa analyze the data. This will turn into equipment for you, as well as unlock some backstory info about the person the data from the boss was based on. It's really cool seeing the backstory info, as most of it is all related to each other in some form or another. What you get from analyzing personality data is a little temperamental, as you could get some really bad gear, or some really good gear.

Now, here's where I have to stop for a minute to make a bit of a point. Well, two points, really. First off, as you unlock stages, you unlock addresses where you can put in five numbers and see if it results in a stage. These are like freeplay stages and usually contain bosses that you won't see during the story. If you are anything like me, then you will want to do any bonus stages you know the address for. Now, if you take into account you need three personality data to unlock all the backstory on a boss data file, this starts being more of a slog than anything. This is especially the case for the free stages, as they're basically the same segments mixed and matched between different free stages. At least the story missions are pretty varied and unique though.

So, let's talk about the kinda weird leveling system that's been implemented here. As you defeat enemies that are at least within a certain level range of the character you have selected, you earn ExP as well as maybe EGO points. Note that ExP stands for "E cross P" and is an actual in-game explained value, which I found to be pretty neat. When you return to your home base, you can have Enoa use the ExP in order to increase your character's level up to the cap that gets increased after each major boss. In addition, you can spend EGO points in order to increase certain stats as well as increase your "max equip level", which is the stat on the same page you level from.

Those of you who've played Crystar, you'll probably be fairly familiar with the style of Crymachina, in both gameplay as well as aesthetics, albeit with some upgrades and variations. In typical JRPG fashion, characters will have both 3D models as well as 2D anime styled "live 2D" type character portraits while speaking. The design for the character portraits definitely have a rather unique style to them. Add to this the quality and tone of the soundtrack and you have an aesthetic match-up that really stands out. Seriously though, the soundtrack is really good, and the boss themes are super fitting for each major boss you fight.

Crymachina definitely has both good and bad points to it. While it has a rather unique art style and good music track, areas tend to get rather repetitive pretty fast. If you aren't a fan of action hack and slash games, that could also give you pause. While there are a lot of bonus mini areas to do, they are pretty much all similar to one another and get repetitive really fast if you want to go through all of them for all the personality data unlocks. I'll be honest, when I was trying to get all of the data this way, I had something on in the background to watch/listen to. If you stick to the main storyline though, this isn't quite as big an issue. If you swap which character you bring it can also feel a little fresher, as each character does behave differently, although the third character is particularly different from the first two, there are differences between all of them.

Fair warning by the way, difficulty is a weird concept in Crymachina. Certain enemy types are just plain brutal, and sometimes bonus stages skip from maybe level 50 suggested to level 90 suggested with no real indication what you're getting into. That being said, I was also routinely contesting enemies 30+ levels above me with, not too much of a challenge, depending on enemy type. Screw the lancers, and the light swordsmen have a really hard-hitting attack too. Also, some of the stats are really confusing. Like, I expect STR to be strength for damage, but Willpower is stated to be damage, yet the two stats don't necessarily correlate? It's weird, and you can manage, but still pretty confusing.

Overall, Crymachina is a title that I enjoyed both a lot more and a lot less than I should've in equal measure. If you're the type to go for the full hundred percent, Crymachina quickly becomes a repetitive slog. If you're ok to not have a bunch of shiny 100% ratings, then it won't feel quite as bad. The storyline is actually quite interesting, particularly on a deeper level, but takes a while to get into and may have a little too much "fluff" in between for some people. While Crymachina has an interesting combat system, it also feels at times a little rough around the edges and somewhat hard to get into. It certainly showed a lot of potential. While definitely a more niche title that may not appeal to everybody, I thoroughly enjoyed this 3D hack and slash adventure into a philosophical robot space world.

Score: 7.5 / 10