Developed by Radical Fish Games and published by Deck13, CrossCode is a successful crowdfunded 2D action RPG. With its Inception-like story line, great 2D artwork, lively background music, tricky puzzling elements, and busy real-time combat there is a lot to enjoy about this game, originally released on the PC back in late 2018. Having finally made the jump onto Xbox One, it sits nicely in the library and is definitely not a game to be ignored.
You play as a virtual presence named Lea, who needs to play an MMORPG called Crossworlds to regain her memories. You witness a scene where a woman searches for her brother and when she finds him, he dies in her arms. Shortly after, you awaken on a ship and are told you need to play Crossworlds, where everyone plays as their virtual avatar; but you seem to actually be your avatar rather than just playing. You are also hit with a bug that has rendered you literally speechless as your virtual avatar has issues speaking. Your friend helps you with a few keywords like hello and saying her name Lea, but the rest is all done by nodding and facial expressions which provides some amusing dialogue.
The combat gameplay is split between a nice blend of fast-paced real-time battling with tactical ranged and close combat. You need to use both your long and short-ranged attacks to tackle different enemies. You also have a guard to try and reduce the unavoidable damage. When you enter combat, you build up a battle rating, with the more hits you deliver and the more enemies you face. Most of the battles you have are very short-lived, and some of the enemies won’t even attack you unless you attack them first, so it does make it a little easier to backtrack when you are searching for materials or trying to complete a jumping puzzle.
When you reach an S rank of battle the enemies drop more and rarer materials. As you progress you also obtain elements by completing the challenges of the CrossWorlds virtual game. The elements make your attacks stronger, and they also open up different puzzling sections; for example, you can melt ice blocks with your fire element. The puzzling gameplay is all around you when you travel as there always seems to be a jumping puzzle to gain some materials or a chest. There are other puzzle elements including moving block puzzles and ones that involve using your ranged weapon to hit switches or destroy obstructions. The difficulty of the puzzles is quite varied and some favour logic whereas others favour timing.
The RPG elements are generally of the standard fare; a lot of NPC’s send you on various fetch quests, with the rewards being experience and either materials or equipment. When you gain enough experience, you level up and you gain special points to use on a circuit which can either increase your attributes like range damage or you can unlock a specific skill. There are shops where you can buy items to increase your health or give you small boosts to battle prowess. You can find shops which sell equipment, but there is better equipment to be had by completing quests or taking materials to traders who supply higher tier equipment for the materials you have collected.
As you progress through the game, you do make a friend who parties up with you some of the time and contributes to the battles. Some times, they’ll also keep enemies distracted whilst you aim for their weak points. You can use a communicator to talk to a few other members of your guild once you join one to give you some information or hints.
There are a few minor gripes which I think could have been remedied to improve the game. The side quests could offer a minor guide to steer you towards where the quest is, or who the quest giver is. Many times, I have to keep checking the map to work out the area I need to get to. Then when I have completed the quest, I sometimes struggle to find the quest giver which seems an unnecessary delay. The jump quests in this game can become super tedious over time due to the fact the game is in 2D. You cannot easily gauge the difference in height of each of the platforms and so constantly you will be messing up jumps and losing interest in them. The better puzzles are the one that involves using your range attack to rebound the attack off walls and blocks to hit certain switches. The only other minor gripe is that some of the trader’s material requirements are too high. You end up grinding an area to get the material only to level up and outgrow the equipment level, leaving them a bit redundant.
CrossCode is a fun medley of gaming styles which some can link to the older style Zelda games with its combat and puzzle elements. The RPG side of things does provide a lot of the content of the game, but it does sometimes seem the main focus is all the different puzzling elements, with the combat feeling a little filler to pad out the game until the next puzzling section. The variety of side quests will keep you busy, although some of the fetch quests can be a bit tedious. But the story is interesting, and it is very fun to play through, so I strongly recommend it.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.