Review: CrossCode (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC/Mac

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: CrossCode
Format: PSN (1.76 GB)
Release Date: July 9, 2020
Publisher: Deck 13
Developer: Radical Fish Games
Original MSRP: $19.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: T
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

 

Video Review:

Gameplay:
CrossCode proves that what’s old is new and what’s new can certainly benefit from what’s old. As my excerpt says, CrossCode is a little bit Zelda. But it’s also a little bit Chrono Trigger, Assassin’s Creed, Phantasy Star with a mix of the book Ready Player One to boot.

However, it’s a bit of an insult to call it only a combination of past games, because the gameplay here is clearly tuned to modern expectations and experiences.

CrossCode takes place within a virtual world…within a virtual world, if you will. You play as Lea, a young Seeker who has lost her memories and, in order to regain them, she must take part in a widely popular MMO. By meeting people and conversing with them, as well as joining them on adventures and revisiting old places, the hope is that she will regain some of her lost history.

This is an action-adventure at its core. So, while my comparison to Chrono Trigger is attributed to the visual style and the traveling with companions and running into enemies on the field (versus random encounters), the core method of combat is action, which is also divided into a melee slashing affair combined with distance twin-stick shooting via Lea’s sphere projectiles (also referred to as Balls). Lea is also able to swiftly dodge attacks with a tap of a button as well as shield herself with a cyber shield of sorts.

Knowing how to approach certain enemies is part of the challenge, and part of the fun. Not all enemies are easily defeated with slashes, and some even require a combination of multiple techniques.

But combat is only half of the gameplay here. Puzzle-solving is also crucial to moving forward in the game and one of the other areas where CrossCode shines. A lot of the puzzles within the game are angle based. If you are into billiards, you might do well here. Your projectile not only serves as a weapon, it also opens doors and activates machines. It’s not always a direct shot, and often you must bank your sphere off curved walls. The game provides a guide to give you an idea of the trajectory of your orb, so you’re never quite lost, but there is some challenge here.

Fortunately, there are some sliders in the options menu that allow you to control everything, from the frequency of enemy attacks, to their damage, as well as puzzle difficulty. The recommended difficulty felt just right, but if you are a casual gamer that just enjoys chilling with a game (no judgement here, as I’m the same way quite often), then there is certainly an option for your playstyle here.

CrossCode is huge. The world itself is vast, but there is also so much to do. Admittedly, I felt a little overwhelmed initially. I mean, these are my favorite types of games, but I had a lot of new rules to learn.

For instance, a lot of the items you buy aren’t simply purchased at a shop. In addition to paying for their creation, you must also find the components out in the field. It sounds annoying, but a lot of these items came into my possession while I was out there anyway, so it was always a nice surprise to realize that I had the items needed to build a new weapon.

The quest system here (including quests where you must find items) is very well organized and rarely leaves you wondering where to go. While you don’t get a map marker holding your hand, the map is divided into named zones, and the quests log always tells you what zone you need to search.

Personality oozes out of every character in CrossCode. Even Lea, who starts the game mute, shows so much emotion in her character art and writing.

“Hi…Lea,” means so much, when you combine it with a perfect emotional piece of artwork.

Bravo to the writer(s) for imbuing so much with just the written word as well as the artists for instilling so much emotion into still frames.

Visuals:
CrossCode embraces its retro 16-bit inspiration and wears it with pride. And, it’s beautiful. The color palette evokes those old days when fifty-something colors was all you needed to paint a vivid world and “hi-res” artwork of the main characters gave our imagination everything we needed to animate the frames in between.

Environments are also varied enough, rewarding curiosity and exploration with vivid exposition and range. By range, I mean that at one moment you will be in a very tech-heavy environment and the next in a forest or on a snow-capped peak. Animation is also fluid in everything, from running and combat, and this is also applicable for enemies and giant bosses.

Audio:
Truly, the only sound that can be covered here is music and sound effects. As mentioned before, CrossCode does not include voice acting. And that’s perfectly acceptable. The score is very well done, adhering to classic gaming tropes while not grinding your ears with repetitive notes.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only, with no online component.

Conclusion:
There is a pretty bad stigma about retro gaming in modern times and indie games. Fortunately, it’s not a widely popular opinion. But some believe that if it’s not a triple-A title that takes advantage of new hardware, then it’s not worth a second glance.

CrossCode may look like an old game on the surface, but it comes packaged with so much gameplay and exploration that I would gladly play it over some of the triple-A entries this year. It had that little something that only gamers understand. It’s that “just one more quest” or “let me just see what’s in the next area”. Even though I was reviewing it, I found myself playing longer than I had set for myself in a day. And that told me everything I needed to know about this game.

Score:

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

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