Crosscode Review

Crosscode is an action role-playing game developed by Radical Fish Games and published by Deck13. It has been a long road for the title as it entered development in 2012 and was in fact crowdfunded by backers three years later in 2015. Crosscode eventually launched onto PC in September 2018 and has only just been released to Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4. The fantastic news for Xbox One gamers is that Crosscode launches straight onto Xbox Game Pass and will give you the ability to download and play the full title if you are a subscriber. Physical boxed versions can be pre-ordered from https://crosscode.inin.games/.

Crosscode is set in the distant future and begins with a young woman named as Shizuka Sakai, who fights her way to save her brother, but once she reaches him, he sadly passed away in her arms. The game then cuts to a girl called Lea, who wakes up on a cargo ship with no recollection of what has happened and no memory of the past. She then speaks with a random bloke on the ship known as Sergey and advised that she must play an MMORPG known as “Crossworlds” in order to recollect her memory and regain her voice. Yes, she lost her voice and her memory as well. I don’t want to continue revealing the plot as it would spoil the story for you, but you will embark on an extremely lengthy adventure in a beautiful 16-bit world which is very reminiscent of old games gone by. There are a lot of games on the market with this art style now, especially the plethora of KEMCO titles and I was keen to see if this excelled beyond how good those were and how the story and gameplay held up in this RPG.

I’ll get one thing out of the way early and say that the flexibility in the character movement is spot on here, you can move left and right, up and down and diagonally. I have played too many games in this genre where there is no diagonal movement available and it is an instant turn off for me. So this was a huge tick in the RPG box for me. The game will set you off with the initial story and learning of characters and also hold your hand in gaining knowledge of the mechanics within the game. The combat mechanics are truly satisfying and probably the best I have seen within any RPG of this type and I had genuine fun approaching and attacking enemies and it was instantly enjoyable. Lea’s character is known as a Spheromancer. The other characters on the ship you start off with seem obsessed with her, and this is mainly down to her powers. She can fire out ball type barrages at targets and also ricochet these off walls and objects to get to hard to reach spots. This can be used to slay enemies or be the final piece of the jigsaw to solve many of the puzzles you will come across during the game. The puzzle solving requires some thought, but nothing that will make you turn off the game in frustration. The firing of the weapon to negotiate puzzles is something I genuinely haven’t seen done in a game like this that I can recall. Even though the game is 2D, you can actually almost visualise 3D aspects as you can gain access to platforms to assist your puzzle solving and mild head scratching. Seriously though, you won’t be scratching your head much.

I was genuinely surprised at how much work has gone into the combat and ability system here. There are abilities that go hand in hand with the general just hitting and slapping moves. As you progress through the game, you can unlock more abilities and also develop Lea with an expansive skill tree, something I didn’t expect in this game. The skill trees are mind blowing and could be a bit overwhelming for new players of the genre. Take your time though and you’ll get to grips with all the aspects of this. Also, as you work through the world, you’ll notice that you can have a partner to combat with you from time to time. This puts a different focus on the battle side of the game and is refreshing and rewarding when this opportunity arises.

One thing that I noticed was, even though you had all these abilities and combat skills, the world wasn’t as littered with enemies as I thought it would be. The variety of enemies isn’t fantastic either, which was a bit underwhelming seeing as the rest of the game holds up fantastically. There are side quests set aside from the main story and they are plentiful and add several hours to the lasting experience. A lot of them are fetch and bring quests, but if you are like me and a sucker for doing everything, then you’ll probably enjoy this element of the game. But I could see why this could be repetitive. Overall though, the developers have done incredible work to create a game within a game and generating its world and its intriguing story. I particularly enjoyed delving deep into the dungeons and exploring. You’ll get a real sense of dungeon crawling, finding secrets, taking on enemies and fighting with brutal bosses which are all unique in their own right. You’ll take several attempts at taking some of them down, but a real sense of satisfaction and true enjoyment when you finally smash them up.

Graphically the game is outstanding for this genre, its blend of vivid colours and anime art style is visually impressive. It reminded me of an advanced take on the Pokemon series and had that similar feel to the on screen character models. Dialogue is clean and easy to read with the ability to skip cutscenes if you are the impatient type of person. A quick click on the start button will allow you to read the conversation through again in case you miss or forget something. You’ll be able to set the game to automatically skip cutscenes also if you fancy trying to speedrun the game, you can increase how quickly the text pops into screen during the conversation. In fact, I got lost in the options menu, impressively you can change the majority of options, even how difficult the puzzle solving is, in the event it is too difficult for the player. Sound effects are as you’d expect from this type of game, cheesy soothing music and ramped up the tempo at the right moments.

I’ve been meaning to get this review for some time and unfortunately had to hold back for some time, solely for the reason it has taken me in excess of 80 hours to finish and complete. Crosscode is a true hidden gem in the indie game scene, and the fact it is available on Xbox Gamepass at the time of writing is worthy of a download alone. Crosscode is an excellent, addictive RPG that will keep you coming back for more until you finish and eclipses anything I’ve played in the genre in a long time. If you have the opportunity of buying on Nintendo Switch, I urge you too, because it suits the platform and casual play style and I am for sure going to pick it up for handheld commutes.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Crosscode Review
  • Gameplay - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Graphics - 9/10
    9/10
  • Sound - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Replay Value - 6/10
    6/10
Overall
8/10

Summary

Crosscode is a surprise gem of 2020, a solid 80 hours plus in this fast paced RPG which combines beautiful pixel art graphics with intriguing boss fights and puzzles to solve

Pros

  • Visually fantastic pixel-art for a title in this genre.
  • Insanely gripping boss fights.
  • Lots of puzzles and extra elements added to the main story.

Cons

  • Could be more variety in enemy types.
  • Side quests could be more interesting.