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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves


An athletic body of steel. Legs garnished in steel and chrome. A torso of crimson red. A brain is like a supercomputer. Eyes that can see everything like a camera. No more muscle or flesh to worry about. All there is is is steel. Teenager Leben has just reawakened on a space station orbiting the Earth. What appears to be a dream is, in fact, straight out of a sci-fi nightmare. Humans are gone, and all that is left is Eden, humanity's last hope. Having been dead for 2,000 years, Leben, along with Ami and Mikoto, have been resurrected into cybernetic bodies called EVE units. Their goal: resurrect humanity through fighting gargantuan robot bosses and the power of familial love.

From the makers of CRYSTAR comes CRYMACHINA, an ambitious sci-fi action game from developer Furyu. While CRYMACHINA isn't perfect and will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Nier Automata, this slick and smooth anime-inspired action game is deep in its story and rewarding in its gameplay, making it a spectacular surprise for 2023. Having played the game at PAX West this year, I had my expectations, and they were positively met.

Dreams Into Reality

CRYMACHINA puts players in the role of two EVE units, Leben and Mikoto. The two women died thousands of years ago during the great human extinction. Through pieces of digital information, they have been resurrected as cutting-edge EVE units. Their minds and spirits are human, but every part of them is steel and circuitry. With newfound abilities and capabilities, the duo team up with Ami, a noncombatant EVE, and begin their mission. They are led by Enoa, a sentient A.I. responsible for taking care of a portion of Eden.

The ship is governed by multiple sentient A.I. However, they have all plundered into chaos, putting humanity's resurrection in jeopardy. Fortunately, Enoa is a sentient A.I. that is dedicated to human preservation and psychology. As s such, she assembles a small team to fight back against the rogue A.I.s in a bid to bring humanity back from extinction. The EVE units have the latest fighting capabilities, but the battle will not be easy.

Leben overlooks a vast section fo Eden before embarking on her first mission

Steel Reborn

CRYMACHINA is an action RPG. Players fight monstrous enemies and bosses across Eden. These range from basic grunts to large tank-like creatures to devilish warriors. Rival EVE units, humans tha have been taken over by the A.I.'s, also appear. This 20+ hour advantage has a lot going for it. Front and center is the story. This is the story of women brought back to life to fight for humanity and to rediscover what it means to be human themselves.

The story is incredibly deep for an action RPG. It's hopeful and heartwarming yet heavy and philosophical. These were former humans, and now they find themselves in inhuman bodies, all up against a seemingly impossible enemy. Their rediscovery of humanity is relatable as they slowly recollect their memories and discover a familial love amongst each other. The story takes inspiration from a particular line from Terminator 2: Judgement Day and the tale of Pinnochio, directly referencing The Blue Fairy of the story.

Mikoto dodges a laser trap deep within Eden

Journey Across Cyberspace

The journey to be a Real Human is filled with surprises and interesting viewpoints. For better or worse, they are told through static cutscenes resembling a visual novel. However, despite how overwhelming things can be, the story does flesh itself out. A glossary helps players learn the world of CRYMACHINA while the characters gel well together in their mission. By the time the credits roll, there is a strong connection players will have to Leben, Mikoto, and the team.

CRYMACHINA is an action game. Players fight various robot enemies. Each level ends in a huge boss fight where enemies throw everything they have at players. The robotic enemies all have some piece of human information built into them, making them deadly and intelligent. CRYMACHINA is no souls-like but is no pushover either. Fortunately, the combat is exhilarating and fast.

Leben uses her cybernetic spear and prepares to unleash an attack

Calculated destruction

Players fight enemies in hack-n-slash action. Players have a primary weapon but can also use a ranged weapon to fight from afar. Additionally, their synthetic bodies carry orbing auxiliary units. These units deploy and can provide different functions, like machine gun fire or EMP interference. Fighting in CRYMACHINA is enjoyable, with plenty of color exploding on screen and a ferocious take on action. Between levels, players level up their characters with EGO points earned in missions. Additionally, the story proceeds in the Imitation Garden, where characters interact.

Some may compare CRYMACHINA to 2017's Nier Automata, but the games couldn't be any more different in their interpretations of humanity and their combat. CRYMACHINA is flashier and simpler in its combat, whereas Nier Automata has more layers to decipher in both areas. CRYMACHINA distinguishes itself in its more identifiable story and camaraderie, as well as flashy combat that is tough but not too difficult. There is a casual mode for those who just want to breeze through the story.

Enoa, one of the sentient A.I that guides Leben to be a Real Human

The Heart and Soul of CRYMACHINA

The heart and soul of CRYMACHINA is on display throughout the experience. Every battle is punctuated with music from Japanese Artcore artist Sakuzyo, making every moment feel like it is beyond time and space. The character and enemy designs are eye-popping, and the heartfelt story of Leben and her team leaves an unforgettable impression. It's a tale that identifies the human condition and its mentality, the good and the bad. It's a story that shows how tears are a very important and real thing, even for a synthetic machine.

An additional aspect going for CRYMACHINA is length. Completionists who wish to search for every nook and cranny in the cyberworld of the game can expect to 100% the title in about 20 hours or so. This may put some players off as it isn't a long and grand adventure, but playing a game and finishing in 20 hours is still playing and finishing a game. In an age that asks for more reasonable completable games, CRYMACHINA fits the bill.

Mikoto and Ami relax in the Imitation Garden

Bugs in the Code

CRYMACHINA is amazing. However, it does have setbacks. The team previously made Crystar and Monark, but for some reason, the levels are barren. CRYMACHINA takes place on a grand spaceship filled with robots and synthetic life. One level even shows giant artificial robot whales rebuilding the station. The levels needed more life and depth. Each level has players running along a linear pathway, fighting a few enemies, and then ending it with a boss fight. If the game was more straightforward in action or rich in detail, the experience would be better. I could have imagined far deeper dungeons brimming with enemies and environmental details.

Furthering this is the story. The story is told in visual novel cutscenes with static imagery. Animated cutscenes would have been exceptional in fleshing out the world and characters more. CRYMACHINA depicts this incredibly interesting world but doesn't share as much as it could. While there is a glossary and music player, it feels like a missed opportunity to have done more with the storytelling. Finally, one of the most important tutorials is overlooked, which is to change equipment. For whatever reason, no menu popped up, and I didn't discover equipment changing that until after finishing several chapters.

Despite the repetitive nature and the lack of fulfilling parts of the ambitious story, CRYMACHINA is exceptional in its story and solid in its gameplay. In this day and age, that's more than good enough for me, but I hope more than good enough for many others. Not every game has to be 100 hours and sophisticated like Starfield. Games need to be played but also completed. CRYMACHINA takes the trend of being a shorter JRPG, which, for me, is great and hopefully just the right fit for anyone curious about the game.

CRYMACHINA is a strong game with a big cybernetic heart. While it is limited in level design and storytelling, the story is grand and strong, with great characters and important themes to tell. The combat is challenging and exhilarating, with a presentation that keeps players engaged. Whether this is a one-off project from Furyu or the beginning of a franchise that leads to a sequel or anime, I'm glad I went on this journey and look forward to another one again. A Gold Star For You.


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