Maken X is broken up into three segments: action scenes, event scenes, and the world map. Upon starting, the player will find themselves witnessing an event scene. In event scenes, the story is continuously told through cutscenes and dialogue between characters. After a brief introduction to the story, the player gets to taste combat in the action scenes, the in-game portions where the fighting takes place. After a short level to give the player an idea of how the action is played out, the world map comes into view. The world map is the area where the player can select their destination, save their progress or brainjack a previously possessed character. The particular scene which dominates the game tends to be the action scene. This is where the story is set in motion and continued, and so this is where the player will spend most of their time.
Maken X is played from a first person perspective and has a fairly clean point of view. To keep the player informed, their brainjacking ranking and PSI bar is displayed across from the health meter. As enemies are killed, a portion of their PSI is left behind. This ball of PSI can then be absorbed, and after enough is taken to fill up Maken’s bar, its brainjacking ranking will increase. In doing so, many advanced blademasters will then be accessible. While their basic attacks are the same, they are important due to their speed, power, and special abilities. One stage with a very fast boss will require blademaster Devon, whose special ability is using ice to freeze opponents, while another character would be killed quickly. In another situation, a pilot must be taken over so that Maken may escape from an airplane without harm. These uses of the different characters helps to present them as more of an asset rather than just as an interesting feature.
The role of the blademasters also brings in a slight strategic element. With their special abilities and unique weapons, there will be times when one is preferred over another. There are a number of times when the player might find a blademaster whose speed is preferred over one who is slower, but more powerful. This can also create a challenge when trying to complete a level with a character who is not well-suited for the situation. Their weapons range from slender swords, expanding staffs, and small projectiles that return to the character’s hand after being fired. So, using a close-up weapon, such as a sword, when going into a level filled with bulky enemies would be more of a challenge than using a longer-distance weapon.
The enemies which Maken will face are all fantastic. Each has great detail that range from subtle to over-the-top. One monster is a huge dead ogre that wields an enormous battle axe, and through him is a wooden cross that also happened to impale a small green creature, leaving him attached to the ogre. It is these observations that make the up-close battles interesting. This is especially well-done because when facing enemies, the game resembles a one-on-one sword duel. Whoever can get the pace of the fight down first will be able overtake their opponent. While the enemy attacks in a scripted manner, they do manage to provide a challenge with their large numbers. Because they must be charged, special abilities are of limitied use, and so it is much more important to get down the combo and jumping systems. Jumping over an enemy is a great sensation, and being able to get a critical hit by slashing their backs is a great way to finish off a long battle.
The levels in Maken X are as diverse as the enemies. While traveling across the globe, the player can expect to fight in such locations as London and Hong Kong. Within these locations there will be outdoor and indoor fights as well as battles in the underground tunnels. Not only do levels take place on the ground and beneath it, but also above it. In one particular early stage, for example, Maken finds its way fighting through a huge airplane. In each level there is no real distinct feel, as they all have similar layouts along with the traditional jumping puzzles. These are not really puzzles but merely disguised paths. What looks like a closed-off alley can in fact be passable by jumping on the hoods of nearby trucks. These can be overseen due to the constant barrage of attacks by the enemy, and so a keen eye is necessary. While the levels are very large, there are a few that were quite short, but those are the minority. Levels also have their own set of increasingly tougher enemies and lengthier spaces to cross; the player is in for a long fight. The concepts presented in Maken X are not new, but they are expanded far more than ever before.