By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on July 7, 2020
Now, I don't know about you, but personally I have been wondering for years what it would be like to live in a video game. To wander around that digital environment and truly be the hero I always wanted to be. Incidentally, that is what the people at Radical Fish Games must have thought when they set out to create CrossCode. I saw this game for the very first time when visiting the booth of publisher Deck 13 at Gamescom 2019 and was immediately captivated by the game's 16-bit style and intricate battle system. Now, a good 12 months later, the full game is being released for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, so it's about I took another look, wouldn't you say?
In CrossCode, we travel into the distant future and centers around someone who is, like many of us, is an avid gamer, who just happens to be a huge fan of the immensely popular MMO CrossWorlds and logs into this world to escape reality for a bit and just be awesome. Actually, I did just stretch the truth a bit. You see, the game doesn't revolve around the aforementioned gamer as such; it centers around Lea, the young, blue-haired female avatar of said gamer. In any case, one day something is amiss, and Lea lands in CrossWorlds without a single shred of her memories left and, even worse, she has lost the power of speech. Now, this may not sound that bad to many men out there, but for a woman, this is a huge problem (trust me, I know; I've been married for some years now...)
The only way for Lea to regain her memories as well as her voice is to play CrossWorlds and see what this strange yet wonderful world has in store for her. She meets a colorful cast of characters, fights tons of enemies and solves numerous puzzles along the way. Now, when I first played the demo of this game a year ago, I personally classified it as being a more action-oriented game. But now the full game is out, it's abundantly clear that there's more to CrossCode than first meets the eye. much more! You see, the demo was especially centered around the start of the game, in which Lea is introduced and the basics of the game are explained. This portion of the game consists mostly of fast 2D shooting / brawling with an arcade-y feel, mixed with some environmental puzzling. Yet nothing prepared me for the vast world that was to follow!
You see, because CrossWorlds is said to be sort of an MMO, the world itself is huge. There's so much to do, so many things to do, lots of people to talk to and tons of enemies to obliterate that you'll never get bored while wandering through this vast land of opportunities. In a sort of Zelda-like style, you make your way through the many, many maps the game is comprised of, while always keeping an eye out for new missions, useful items and other stuff that just might come in handy. But, of course, where there are riches to be found, there are usually also enemies involved, and CrossCode is no exception to this rule. So, what do we do when we have an enemy bearing down on us? Do we turn tail and run? Hell no! We're going to show that enemy what real heroes are made of!
Right, let's give this creature a piece of our mind, shall we? To do so, Lea has two kinds of attacks: melee and ranged. When close to an enemy, she can use her melee attacks (or VPI - Virtual Proximity Impact -, as they're called in-game) to pummel it until its defeated, even interrupting some of the enemy's attacks by relentlessly hitting it. If Lea's further away from an enemy, she can make good use of her projectile weapon: balls! Wait. what?! Yes, ladies and gentlepeople; balls! Well, the technical term for this weapon is the VRP (Virtual Ricochet Projectile) but, seeing as how these projectiles do indeed look like balls, that has become their more frequently used name.
And these suckers don't just come in handy when trying to defeat an enemy, no sirree; they can also be used to solve one of the many environmental puzzles scattered throughout the game. Especially the charged version (you can charge the projectile by holding the appropriate button for a short time before actually firing) comes in really handy from time to time. Of course, when you attack enemies, they tend to be very nasty about it and strike back. the cheeky bastards! If this happens, Lea has two options; she can either dash out of the way of the incoming attack, or call up a virtual shield to negate the incoming damage.
But wait; it gets even better! While being able to hit your enemies over the head and to make use of the awesome VRP is already very cool, Lea can also unlock elements to further empower her moves with so-called Combat Arts. In total, there are four elements to unlock: Heat, Cold, Shock and Wave, each of which comes with its very own set Combat Arts. These Combat Arts themselves also come in four varieties: Melee Arts, Throw Arts, Dash Arts and Guard Arts, so one for each of your moves. Performing Combat Arts costs Special Points (SP) and the more powerful moves will cost more points. These points can be gathered by fighting enemies. Alternatively, you can also wait for your point tally to automatically regenerate to 1 SP (which will grow to 2 and 3 SP as you progress through the game).
Another, if not THE most, important thing is equipment. This equipment can be found around the world or can be bought from shops for the equivalent number of resources. Always keep your equipment up to date, or you will quickly notice that defeating enemies becomes increasingly harder at an alarming pace! Apart from her equipment, Lea can also make good use of so-called Circuits, which is basically a skill tree in which you can unlock numerous abilities and perks. You start off with just one of these Circuits, but you gain one additional Circuit with every Element you unlock. To get your hands on the skills in said Circuits, you will have to spend your hard-earned Cross Points (CP), which are earned by leveling up Lea. You will receive one CP for each of the skill trees per level.
Then, last but certainly not least, there's the story of CrossCode, which is well-written and engaging. The story is told through numerous conversations with other NPC's within the game. Every time you enter such a conversation, the two parties are shown at the bottom of the screen, along with their lines as text. There's no voices involved in the game, which gives it that distinct 90's era, 16-bit feel. Lea is a fun character to play as, as are the supporting characters that bring the CrossWorld to life. The idea of being the hero in a game is still one that many gamers love and can identify with. This also helps to get into the swing of things more easily and connect with the game's main character, Lea.
CrossCode is a truly beautiful high-speed ballet of striking, shooting, dashing and guarding, all presented in glorious 16-bit graphics! It is a really cool game, filled with interesting characters, fast-paced and fluid combat and fun puzzles. The 16-bit style complements the core gameplay and music and makes playing this game an even more fun experience! So, if you're into 16-bit action / RPG games, you should really give CrossCode a try. I can personally guarantee you will not be disappointed!
And here's even more good news, especially for those of you who want to get their hands on a physical copy of the game! You can pre-order one of no less than three editions on this website. You can choose between the Retail Edition, the Steelbook Edition and the mighty Collector's Edition. The last two of these editions are available for PC, the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch and the Retail Edition for PS4 and Nintendo Switch. The Steelbook- and the Collector's Edition come jam-packed with all kinds of cool CrossCode paraphernalia. Plus, these are individual numbered limited editions, so that's double the awesomeness!