I still remember when I first laid my hands on CrossCode years ago. In the sea of simple indie games made with the ImpactJS game engine the only two which actually stood out were Gods Will be Watching and CrossCode.
In the distant future the moon has become a high-tech theme-park. People assume the roles of avatars and participate in a huge real-life MMOG playground called CrossRoads. You play as the mute amnesiac Lea who will meet new friends, encounter powerful enemies and learn more about the mysterious but breathtaking world of CrossCode.
CrossCode is an unbelievably polished game. The world looks genuinely alive and everything looks absolutely stunning in motion. Players run through towns and dungeons, leaves and snowflakes fall about, bushes bend out of the way as you run through them, Lea’s hair flutters as you dash against the wind. You don’t even need a beast of a machine, since it runs smoothly on even ancient hardware. A dual core with 2GB of ram is more than enough to have the game running without a hitch.
As a spheromancer, your main way of attacking is by throwing your ricocheting chakrams. These disks allow for almost billiard-like battles where you will be throwing disks around so they bounce and hit enemies behind cover. At times the frenetic throwing and bouncing around feels like the legendary Neo Geo Windjammers.
The controls are beyond responsive, regardless if you opt to play with a gamepad or a mouse and keyboard. Using the mouse and keyboard, WASD moves Lea around and the mouse aims and fires off disks. Clicking near Lea, on the other hand, will have her attacking close range. You also have the ever useful ability to dodge and defend which are both critical if you want to exit battles unscathed.
All battles are in real time and once you had your first one you will be craving for more. The majority of encounters will put you up against a number of enemies at the same time. This means you will have to mix up close melee attacks, while using your long ranged ones to take out distant foes.
There is almost a Devil May Cry style ranking system at play here. Rushing into groups of enemies one after the other and taking them out will raise your rank, which in turn will give you more experience points and useful items.
The enemy variety is also worth mentioning. Just at the beginning of the game you will encounter murderous bunnies who you must hit from afar when they are preparing their attack, bison who are extremely powerful when fought head on but reveal their vulnerable backside whenever they ram into something, and moles with headphones that hurl rocks at you. Later on you will fight crazed penguins, murderous snowmen and one-eyed scorpions.
After its initial slow introduction, the game opens up and you are then free to explore the massive world of CrossCode. Some sections are still locked out Metroidvania-style, thankfully the game never forces you to do anything and actually lets you run free to explore, easily letting you circumvent many of the game’s non-hostile enemies. And the game is massive. You can sink well over 20 hours just with its early access beta version.
If there is a fault to be had with CrossCode it’s the fact that the game tries to do so much, that at times can be overwhelming. Did the game really need RPG leveling, colossal varied areas, platforming, party members, multiple towns with countless NPCs, Final Fantasy-like sphere grids for skills, multiple elemental skill trees and dozens of quests.
CrossCode is a throwback to retro games, but it does so much more. You can actually see how much the developers poured their soul into the game. There is a lot to see and do and I always felt a sense of wonderment as I explored its world and characters. Even as a Steam early access title the game is far more polished than many other games available on the market today. If you want to experience that old-school magic without any of the frustration, CrossCode won’t disappoint.