By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on February 20, 2018
Yes ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls; Crossing Souls is here to take you on a journey between life and death! Together with a group of friends, you will explore the town of Tajunga, California during the summer vacation of 1986. It will be a summer to remember and it's going to radically change the lives of everyone involved!
There are more things between heaven and earth than the ones we see. But what if, purely by chance, a group of teenage kids find a strange artifact that enables them to see what other people can't? And let's say, purely for the sake of argument, an army general with certain evil tendencies is also after the same artifact? What do you think would ensue? If you're curious about what it is I'm talking about, then come with me and prepare yourself for the single strangest summer vacation of your life!
Crossing Souls is a action / adventure game by Spanish independent developer Fourattic. The game lets you take control of a group of five friends and it's your job to guide them safely through the perilous streets of the town of Tajunga.Well, actually, Tajunga didn't start off as a particularly dangerous town. It was a town like any other in which people went about their lives in peace and quiet. Now, that wouldn't make for much of a game, would it? So things are about to get a lot less peaceful and quiet.
One night, a giant thunderstorm rips apart the skies above Tajunga, knocking out most electronic devices in the process. The next morning, we meet the first of our five protagonists: Chris Williams. Chris is just waking up when he gets a message from his brother, Kevin Williams, over one of the few electronic things that survived the thunderstorm: a battery-operated walkie-talkie! Kevin is besides himself and begs Chris to come to their tree house, out in the forest. He says it is of the utmost importance, because he has found something that the entire group of friends needs to see! Chris, barely awake, agrees grudgingly and tells Kevin that he will first get the gang together before coming to the tree house.
This is where our adventure begins. We travel through the streets of Tajunga in search of our friends: Matthew Bauer, "Big" Joe Carter and Charlene "Charlie" Baker. Each of the friends live in another part of town, so Chris will have to go to quite some lengths to get them all together. But when he finally does, the friends set course for their tree house and meet up with a thoroughly excited Kevin. After meeting up, Kevin leads the friends to a nearby lake and shows them what he has discovered. And, without spoiling anything, I can truly say that it's a discovery that will change their lives forever.
This is as far as I'm willing to go as far as divulging details about the story is concerned. Mostly, this is because of the simple fact that it is just too much fun to join the gang on their journey and find out for yourself what exactly it is that Kevin found. What I will say is that Crossing Souls revolves around a story that is worthy of being compared to the likes of Stand by Me, The Goonies and the more recent Stranger Things. Set in the middle of the 80's, the game holds a lot of familiar things for people my age. For the younger gamers, it will be a glimpse into the single coolest time to be alive. ever!
Before I get too nostalgic, let's focus on the game at hand. Crossing souls captures the essence of the 80's in a flawless 16-bit style. Vibrant colours, a slightly over-exaggerated isometric perspective and truly gorgeous environments set the stage for this grand adventure. The town of Tajunga is filled with numerous NPCs for you to talk to or interact with. The story unfolds as you progress through the game and the five main characters have a quality that makes relating to them a very easy thing to do. This all makes Crossing Souls a game that the developers of the 80's wished they could have made at the time!
This brings us to the unique selling point of the game: controlling five characters! Now, controlling multiple characters in a game is not really new; take, for instance, the 1992 game The Lost Vikings. But, instead of switching between characters that are somewhere in the level, Crossing Souls takes a somewhat different approach and lets you switch between characters on the fly. For cutscenes, the five friends are all on-screen, but as soon as you take control, they all kind of merge into one another and you're left controlling only one of them. Seeing as how all five friends have their own abilities and health, it is only natural that you would be able to switch between them. With the press of a button, you exchange one character for another and can instantly make use of their respective abilities.
So, what do these five teenage heroes have to offer? Well, Chris is an athlete who is very handy with a baseball bat, enabling him to hit back projectiles and clobber enemies. He can also jump and climb ladders and vines. Matthew is a teen genius and can shoot objects and enemies with his raygun. He has also built a pair of rocket powered boots that enable him to hover across bigger gaps that the other characters can't cross. Big Joe is the brawn of the group and can throw powerful punches with his ham-sized fists. He can also move heavy objects, clearing a path where there was none. Charlie is a sassy girl that uses her skip rope as a weapon. She can use whip like attacks and also uses the rope to catapult herself over giant distances. Lastly, Kevin can also jump, just like Chris. Being the youngest member of the group, this is about the extent of his abilities, aside from getting into trouble with considerable ease.
To complete the 80's feel, the developers have spent a great deal of attention to the soundtrack of the game. Everywhere you go, 80's oriented tunes will come blasting out of your speakers. And, if that weren't enough, they even incorporated video cutscenes for pivotal moments in the story. These cutscenes are easily among the best I've ever seen. They look just like the cartoons I used to watch on Saturday mornings when I was a kid, complete with VHS screen noise and pitching sounds. It is a very nice addition to the game and really helps to get into the swing of things!
If you're the sort of gamer that likes to collect stuff in-game, than Crossing Souls is right up your alley! The game features a number of collectables, including character biographies, cassette tapes, VHS tapes and confidential documents. The cassettes and VHS tapes are mostly spoofs of real world 80's movies and albums and are truly hilarious. The confidential documents tell pieces of the awesome back-story that forms the basis of Crossing Souls. The character biographies are just what you'd expect and help to understand what makes the characters in the game tick.
Now, you might have gotten the idea that I like this game a lot. If so, you are 100% right! I can't think of a single thing that I don't like about it. The characters, the setting, the story; everything adds up to an amazing gaming experience. Even the blood-curdling mini games that usually tie two sections of the story together are awesome. These mini games take you back to the era in which gaming was mostly a matter of trying and failing, over and over again. They are unforgiving as they are fun and complete the Crossing Souls adventure. I can honestly say that Crossing Souls is one of the best action / adventure games I have played in a while! I just can't get enough of its heart-warming, gut-wrenching and truly awesome 80's goodness!
So now, if you'd excuse me; I have to see a man about a mysterious artifact. And please trust me when I say it's a matter of life and death!
February 13, 2018