Recently, on September 20th, 2018, the indie game “CrossCode” was fully released on Steam. This release follows what seemed like an eternity of beta development, with the game first being available on Steam in early access on May 16th, 2015. However, after playing the game to its completion, I can safely say the wait was worth it, and CrossCode is a definite must have in anyone’s Steam library.
After an intriguing introduction sequence, you take on the role of Lea, a girl who has severe amnesia and a murky past. She was brought to the Crossworlds, a MMO game set entirely in augmented reality, in an attempt to restore her memory. However, there was a glitch with her transfer, limiting her ability to speak all but a few specific words.
The game follows what would generally be considered a serious Sci-Fi story, but the charming nature of many characters paired with the accurate portrayal of gamer stereotypes and culture makes the game seem more lighthearted. Every character you encounter has their own unique and fleshed out personality, and they generally seem to portray specific denominations of gamers, such as typical nerds or online trolls. However, that’s not to say the game is without its intense and emotionally gripping moments.
Part of the reason that CrossCode succeeds so well with it’s story is how quickly and effectively it can swap it’s tone from mild and humorous to downright serious. With the realism of the characters in the game, it immerses you incredibly into its world, and attaches you emotionally to everything that’s happening.
Despite the story being the main selling point of the game for me, the combat is definitely entertaining. Fighting is based around four elements; Heat, Cold, Shock, and Wave. These four elements, along with the neutral fighting style, are segmented into their own individual skill trees, or “circuits”. As an added bonus, you can swap between your choices at any time, allowing you to experiment and find the combat style that best suits you. Fighting is definitely not easy, though. Even after only logging a few hours into the game, I found myself faced with powerful bosses, where meticulously dodging or blocking many of their attacks was key to not getting pulverized into a pile of pixels.
The level design is also quite unique in this game. Many puzzles are based around the top-down perspective, and they’re executed flawlessly. The puzzles are reminiscent of games like Portal 2 or Trine, but also have their own style of how they are presented. You cannot jump normally, but automatically leap when moving towards an edge, forcing you to maneuver your way around areas in a clever fashion to find hidden secrets or the best loot. Even the design of the areas never fail to impress, with each new zone feeling like an entirely new adventure, unique from anything I’ve ever played before. Concepts like forests or snowy areas are taken and brought into the CrossCode universe, making them seem like they really belong there and weren’t forced in for the sake of diversity.
Another amazing part of this game to me was not found within the game itself, but within the developers for it. I’ve seen this game go from being a crowdfunded concept to a fully released and heavily polished game over the course of a few years, and I have to say that it’s very obvious that CrossCode was a work of passion by RadicalFishGames. They have been very transparent with development, even hosting livestreams occasionally to show their team tiling or spriting. They were also very interactive with the community during early access, something I applaud developers for, and were constantly updating the game until completion.
At the time of writing, CrossCode is currently only available on Steam, but a PS4 port is confirmed to be on it’s way. For the asking price of $19.99 USD, this game is a steal and doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as it deserves in my opinion. CrossCode is a living example of how dedication and passion from developers can make a game enjoyable and memorable, something I feel that many developers lack today.