Review: Crossing Souls (PS4)

Review: Crossing Souls (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC, Mac, Linux

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Crossing Souls
Format: PSN (2.33 GB)
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Fourattic
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Nostalgia has been playing a large factor in the allure of a lot of indie titles. Crossing Souls is no different in that respect. The game’s visuals harken to the era of the classic Sierra adventure titles and, yes, the game takes plays in the 80s.

But there are quite a few things that set Crossing Souls apart from the others. Its entire “soul” is based on a different era. Developer Fourattic wasn’t necessarily trying to create a game that looked and played like something from thirty years ago. Instead, the sum of its parts reminds me of the many things I loved thirty years ago while maintaining a gameplay that, while nostalgic in style, still maintains the tightness and advancements of today’s expectations.

Fourattic set out to create a story/game that could have been a Saturday morning cartoon in 1985. And aside from a few curse words in the dialogue, they managed to do just that. Do not take this as a slight against Crossing Souls, rather a compliment of what it got right.

This is Zelda, Stranger Things, The Goonies, Dragon’s Lair, Contra, Dungeons & Dragons, Stand by Me, Poltergeist… okay I could literally keep going, but I figure you get the point. The influences are all there. And the Easter Eggs and nods to the pop culture of the time saturate this fun little game.

Any seasoned gamer can tell you that nostalgia alone will not carry a game. Fortunately, Crossing Souls nails the gameplay. You control a group of 5 friends, all with individual unique skills and personalities.

Chris is the leader of the pack, and is able to climb walls. He attacks with his bat and can tumble out of harm’s way, much like Kratos. Matt can fire his laser blaster at enemies, Big Joe can pull heavy objects and plow through enemies, while Charlie can zip around like The Flash. I don’t want to reveal what the fifth character can do because it ties deeply into the story.

The game mixes action and combat with great puzzle solving. So, while Zelda has you switching items in order to solve a puzzle, Crossing Souls does so with the characters you play. Can’t get across a large chasm? Use Matt to hover over to it.

I feel reluctant to dive too much into other gameplay elements that factor into the story, but there are some cool cross-dimensional components to the experience that make for some fun puzzles and gameplay.

Really though, it’s the way that everything is woven around this Saturday morning cartoon theme that really makes the game shine far beyond most nostalgia-based games that I have played.

There was a moment when I was playing it that I sighed a bit and said, “Man, I remember these summers with my buddies.” Granted, we weren’t trying to keep a mystical object from a villainous maniac back then, but the feelings were there nonetheless.

Even if you didn’t grow up in the 80s, there’s still a warm feeling of friendship that comes from the combined effort of the script and visuals that will resonate with anyone who grew up amongst friends and spent lazy summers getting into trouble.

Visuals:
There was a purpose here, as I stated before, to create a video game that felt like a old cartoon. Yes, I realize that there was a game literally called Saturday Morning Cartoon. And I enjoyed that game as well. What I believe sets Crossing Souls apart from that game is the consistency in style.

While the cinematics look authentically like a cartoon from that era, complete with VHS style distortions, the actual game itself is finessed with a strong style that represents games on PC from that time.

There is a similarity to King’s Quest and Police Quest here rather than making the characters actually look like cartoons. The reason this works is because what I was playing back in the 80s didn’t look like the cartoons, unless I was playing Dragon’s Lair in the arcade.

What I was watching on TV at the time looks like the cinematics in Crossing Souls, while the games I was playing on my NES and computer resemble the in-game graphics of this game. Crossing Souls nails this concept.

Audio:
Another area where Fourattic tosses classic design in favor of the overall picture is with music. Instead of utilizing the chiptunes and hitting that nostalgic nerve with sound, the team went with music that was more akin to the movies and cartoons of the time. It’s gloriously epic in nature, sometimes to a fault, but it’s always appropriate to the action on the screen.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
It’s only February and I’m already playing a game that I could easily consider one of my favorites of the year. It’s not really about the nostalgia I’m happy to say, because nostalgia has a way of blinding us at times.

Crossing Souls is based on something that strikes that inner-child chord within, but it certainly does not rely on that to make it a great game. Great puzzles and action combine with an awesome script to produce an experience that hits home, regardless of when you were born.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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