When I first heard of Crosscode I was a bit dismissive of it due to descriptions my friends told me. “The game is a pixel action rpg!” I scoffed and proclaimed “there is nothing more in the pixel action rpg category that will surprise me!” that was until I got my hands on Crosscode.
Crosscode is an action rpg developed by Radical Fish and Deck 13 and follows the story of Lea a girl who has lost her memory but finds it her mission to explore the world of an mmorpg called “Crossworlds” to recover her memory. The game takes place on an asymmetrical almost top down style similar to that of games such as Mega Man Battle Network.
The story takes quite a bit to get rolling but once it starts rolling you are quickly thrusted into a remarkably fun and consistently fun story spanning dozens of hours. I personally got attached to Lea throughout her adventure partly by how confident the game seems at keeping you interested in the plot. Every piece of the story is accented by the gameplay, difficulty, art style, and music.
Dialogue was also something they did absolutely right with solid yet engaging writing that didn’t make me skip every single cutscene to progress. From the very beginning to hours into the game I found myself finding several characters vibes without having to go with my imagination their emotion and motivation was written right there on their sleeve(er dialogue box?).
The gameplay for Crosscode is fairly simple but gets more expansive throughout the game. The game is similar to that of other dungeon runners like Enter the Gungeon in which enemies will come at you and it is up to your quick wit and abilities to get yourself out. Although sentient guns are not present in this game(that I know of) there is an expansive skill tree with an array of moves to try out and master to get your most comfortable play style.
There are in fact five large skill trees making this one of the deepest and surprisingly robust character trees I’ve seen of an indie game of this magnitude.
I personally love the mechanics for Crosscode as there are parries that prevent you from getting attacked, a shield move that saves you from some truly harrowing predicaments, and attacks that have more depth than the typical indie action rpg. The further you progress in the story the more you unlock new abilities, elemental attacks, and everything in between. The amount of locations, dungeons, and enemy varieties will keep your wits up and reflexes sharp for whatever comes next.
The puzzles in Crosscode are welcome as it feels cemented into the levels themselves without being a complete hindrance to the flow of the game THAT IS until you get further into the game in which it becomes a lot more unbearable. Most of them chalk up to mechanics that we’ve seen several times throughout generations such as hitting a pillar to unlock a portion of the area or directional challenges in which aiming is key but when progressing through the game you’ve seen the same puzzle once or twice with a twist.
Once the game knows you have a grasp of every aspect that they introduced to you they throw you for a loop with the added spice of elemental puzzles, vertical platforming, aim puzzles, and so many tasks that it makes the idea of tackling whatever rooms puzzle feel overwhelming. It’s a hodgepodge of ideas that feel like a double edged blade where the level of thought and creativity is appreciated but can often be too much in certain areas.
Crossworlds Is Gorgeous
There’s much to be said about what I think about the art direction of this game that i don’t know where to start. The art in this game is a lot more distinct that other pixel arpgs. The cutscene character images are not only fantastically proportioned but fun to look at without there being almost any issues. Some characters look a bit generic in character design but they are easily forgotten when you look at the range of emotions for each encounter you have with characters.
Where as most rpgs tend to have a handful of emotional range for characters Crosscode feels endless. Just when I think I’ve seen the same character pose once they throw another character with a whole new range and they look phenomenal so I tip my hat to the artists in charge of that.
The music for the game can be described as golden age Gameboy Advance rpg music. Each song in the game is solid with some outstanding background themes for a few locations such as Autumn Rise, Autumn Fall, or Raid. The composer Deniz Akbulut did a tremendous job developing music for the game and blew away all expectations I had for Crosscode.
Crosscode is a wonderfuly vibrant and enthralling action rpg that checks all the boxes of what I’d want for the type of game it is. The scifi mmorpg story makes for a fun time while the gameplay compliments this background tremendously. Although it takes quite some time for the game to really take off, the dialogue and character sprites in Crosscode offer for a can’t miss “don’t skip the cutscenes” sort of story.
For the price of $19.99 Crosscode has all of the parts to make this a classic but there in lies the issue in which some of these ideas work while some don’t. The puzzle segments and skill tree can be very overwhelming and downright annoying sometimes but the game makes up for this with a lengthy yet satisfying combination of what fans would want out of action rpg that likes to take jabs at the very thing that it is at its core.
Nuke The Fridge Score: 7/10
Crosscode is available on Nintendo Switch and PS4 with a physical release coming soon. More info and preorders can be found on the games official site.