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Game Info:

CrossCode
Developed By: Radical Fish Games
Published By: Deck 13
Released: July 9, 2020
Available On: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Steam
Genre: RPG, Action
ESRB Rating: T- Fantasy Violence, Language
Number of Players: 1 offline
Price: $19.99 Digitally
(Pre-Order the Physical Edition Here)

Thank you Deck 13 for sending us a game code for CrossCode on the Nintendo Switch!

Those of you who know me can attest that I am an avid MMO fan. Having played World of Warcraft with my wife for well over 14 years, I have gained a good understanding of what it takes to create a good massive multiplayer experience. Having run through the gamut of over a half a dozen other titles, I can say that good MMOs incorporate the elements of community, progression, and challenge. This is something that can be shared by single-player games as well, but I never thought I would play a game that mimicked these attributes as well as CrossCode.

CrossCode is an action-RPG set in an MMO universe. The title itself is a game within a game, and if that wasn’t confusing enough, the story suggests that the MMO world, known as CrossWorlds, is actually reality. This convoluted storyline sets the stage for what would become a fantastic and rather arduous journey.

You play through CrossWorlds as Lea, an avatar who has lost her memory as well as her voice through unknown circumstances. She is given a task by Sergey, a mysterious operator who instructs Lea to simply play through CrossWorlds as if she was a normal avatar. Throughout the game he slowly fixes her voice modulator, giving her words to use so that she can interact with other players.

CrossCode
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fantastic retro-style graphics; high octane combat; engaging puzzles and dungeons
Weak Points: "Grindy" gameplay; weak dialogue; narrative is not very engaging
Moral Warnings: Casual and sexual innuendos; strong langue; fantasy violence against people and animals 

Much like any MMO (or non-MMO in this case), CrossCode focuses on grouping up with other players. Interestingly enough, this game is a one-player experience that was designed to feel like it is being played with other human beings. As Lea progresses through the different areas of CrossWorlds, she will come in contact with other adventurers playing through the content of the game. The dialogue that takes place between Lea and other characters is a little trite, as each new character shows their differences from each other through the use of cultural dialects. For example, Emile, one of the first characters Lea meets in the game, spouts out random French words to show her ethnicity. This little detail was funny at first, but in a game that is between 40 and 60 hours long, it got old really fast.

Good RPGs have compelling stories with high stakes and plenty of mysteries to unravel. Unfortunately, CrossCode falls short in this department. The idea of playing an MMO to save an MMO world does not appear to be a need dire enough for a long and often painful grind. Between the shallow dialogue and lackluster narrative, I did not find myself resonating with the characters as deeply as I have with other RPGs.

Despite the shallow narrative of the game, CrossCode more than makes up for that deficit with its combat and puzzle mechanics. Handling much like retro greats Terranigma and Illusion of Gaia, CrossCode’s protagonist is a whirling dynamo of raw power. Being known as a “sphereomancer” in the game, Lea can use a combination of quick melee strikes and long-distance projectiles. With the versatility of her movements and abilities, I found myself looking forward to each new encounter. In fact, the game uses a grading system in combat that allows for Lea to chain encounters with enemies together so that she can gain more experience through victory. The more Lea fights, however, the more likely it is that she will exhaust her resources and lose. But don’t worry, failure only brings you back to the last place you auto-saved.

The controls are very smooth and precise. Different button combinations enable Lea to perform different techniques, some being powerful attacks while others are entirely defensive in nature. Through a simple talent tree, known as a Circuit in this game, you can choose each new ability that Lea learns in order to fine-tune her combat capabilities. Though this is a 2D, retro-inspired journey, the combat requires players to think on their feet, so don’t take your eye off that screen!

Say you find the combat a little more difficult than you are able to handle as I did. That’s alright, CrossCode allows for players to turn down the power and speed of the enemy’s attacks. It is a type of customizable handicap, and it definitely comes in handy when progression is the goal rather than a challenge.

CrossCode
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay – 15/20
Graphics – 9/10
Sound – 7/10
Stability – 5/5
Controls – 5/5

Morality Score - 60%
Violence – 6/10
Language – 5/10
Sexual Content – 6/10
Occult/Supernatural – 6/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical – 7/10

Much like many retro ARPG titles, CrossCode takes advantage of the protagonist's abilities when it comes to solving puzzles. There are multiple dungeons in the game that have Lea using the various mechanics she has learned throughout her journey, and that certainly includes the use of her projectiles. The puzzles are no joke, and they only get more difficult as time moves on. The first dungeon took me about three hours to complete, and most of that was spent navigating through the numerous puzzles. The second dungeon took me about four hours to trudge through, and it only got harder from there. However, the puzzles are only a small part of the length of this game.

The developers of CrossCode wanted to make the game feel like an MMORPG, and they nailed that aesthetic; warts and all. Just like an MMO, CrossCode is a very grindy game and requires the player to hunt for materials in order to obtain new weapons and armor. When a player already spends so long trudging through difficult dungeons and listening to shallow banter, the last thing they want to do is slaughter rabbits for two hours in hopes that they will drop that tuft of hair that’s needed to upgrade their armor. I found the grind more annoying than actually fun.

The soundtrack is another part of this title that is hit and miss. The catchy combat music draws the player in as they fight to see how long they can keep it going, while some of the more ambient tracks don’t match the themes of the areas. The tone of the game is rather light-hearted, but when the tracks of more intense levels don’t match the gameplay, it hurts the experience of the game.

CrossCode is your typical RPG that attempts to make light of situations through humor, but that humor is not always clean. With the projectiles in this game being called “balls,” that leaves room for a lot of sexual innuendo within the content of the title, which the developers chose to leave in the final product. There is also some language including the words da** and a**, including a few other choice words that many would consider bad language. Aside from that, CrossCode keeps the displays of violence to a minimum even though there is fantasy combat among living creatures and people. Occult and supernatural themes are also present as magic is referred to, particularly elemental magic. Depending on the circuit used, Lea can activate an element, thus shooting lightning, fireballs, and etc.

With all things considered, CrossCode is a fun, albeit long, retro-inspired ARPG with memorable content and a moderately engaging storyline. It is currently available on all major consoles in including PC, and for $19.99, you a surely getting your money’s worth for the amount of content you receive. Just pace yourself, this title is a slow boil, so it’s best to enjoy it in spurts, much like an MMO!

About the Author

J.R. Sommerfeldt

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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