Video games offer a sort of magic for adventure. While you can be in the comforts of your own living room sipping a glass of beer, you can also be in the vast and endless desert searching for a pin needle or climbing the highest peaks of mountainous regions to pick rare plants that can’t be found anywhere else. And CrossCode and the many types of RPGs are the main culprits for those sorts of wizardry and witchcraft. A compelling narrative paired with a vast and beautiful world is just enough to keep us smiling from cheek to cheek. And that’s what I would’ve looked if it didn’t have its problems…
But we’ll get to that a bit later…
CrossCode tells the story of Lea, an avatar within an MMORPG universe called CrossWorlds. However, unlike the traditional virtual worlds we know from the more “traditional” MMOs of old, CrossWorlds is a living and breathing physical planet that exists in the same realm with the real world. But similar to our beloved RPGs, our protagonist is also an amnesiac and partially mute, so we’re even. Thanks, game!
CrossCode as a game follows the more traditional and old-school RPGs that I played growing up. Sadly for me, those are the kinds of RPGs that have a long winding tradition that I need to have walkthroughs and guides if I ever want them done quickly and CrossCode is no different. While you have a general idea of where to go and what to do, its quest lines and side adventures never really felt all that intuitive. There are no quest markers to guide your path and only a wall of text to light the way. Making one quick trip to the thrift store for a bargain on bronze mails as hard as finding needles in a wheat field. Although it does come with its own marker system where you can mark parts of the map for things that you can’t unlock ‘til much later in the game.
The main draw for me in this game is the fact that it is both an RPG and with puzzle-solving elements embedded to its gameplay. And that’s where it really caught my attention. Its opening phases gives you a general idea on how to play but as soon as you reach the rookie harbour where the “real” adventure starts, it soon becomes this slow and bland game that doesn’t have much in the way of fun unless you can find fun into slaughtering moles and porcupines to level up and gain better gear early on. It does pick up its paces much later on but the opening phase was really the hardest to break through as I find myself slowly losing interest doing quests left, right and centre.
Its combat is fast and frenetic… the swordplay offers quick combos and powerful attacks while also implementing the ball-throwing action of a shooter game. It also offers a deep skill tree to power up your moves and really gets into the flow of its fast-paced combat. And obtaining new gear also means getting into the game’s barter system with NPC players that really puts you into the atmosphere of a real MMO despite being a bit more of a roundabout way of just a buy/sell option for their wares.
However, the boss fights are the real test of skill and the most fun only second to its puzzle-solving and dungeon crawling. It really offers the game at its best as it implements what really made me interested in the first place… and that’s the unique approach into boss fights that have you shooting through pillars to ricochet your balls of fury into its weak spots or gracefully dodging massive attacks to counter with your own flurry of slashes and combos.
Visually though, it offers a rich pixelated world filled with the usual JRPG-esque environment. There are just enough details to make it unique all while looking fantasy-like thanks to its futuristic scriptures that mixes in with its beautiful world. And this goes hand in hand with the game’s unique way of traversal. Unlike most old-school JRPGs that knows its playable areas and boundaries, CrossCode offers its players to explore beyond the usual and lets them go through places that normally we’d see as nothing more than visual flair.
But while I poke fun at Lea’s humbling speech patterns of simple “hi’s” and “nods”, it’s worth noting that everyone else isn’t voiced either which isn’t surprising but it could’ve been great to hear how everyone else sounds considering my party members’ flavourful banters that more often than not I end up missing while fighting the usual underground moles and insects alike.
In a nutshell, CrossCode offers serious fans of the retro RPGs an experience worthy of the time they’ll be spending. From a great story that had me wondering from the get-go to the rich open world filled with secrets and goodies. Paired with some well-thought-out gameplay elements, the game never really felt awkward and stale. But while it does a lot of things right most of it comes down to how much time will you be willing to spend learning the basics of the game from its lore to the overall gameplay and systems? It’s a time-consuming game that isn’t really for the faint of heart… and that’s the worrying part in today’s game standards.
Crosscode is available on the following Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, Microsoft Windows, macOS
Crosscode was Developed by Radical Fish Games and Deck13
This review is based on the PS4 version of the game.
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Meet Lea as she logs into an MMO of the distant future. Follow her steps as she discovers a vast world, meets other players and overcomes all the challenges of the game. Also: Lea can't speak. Nope, no heroic mime. She is actually mute.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 19.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut