CrossCode review: A virtual blast from the past

by Dillon Sickels
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After being crowdfunded and developed for 3 years, CrossCode was released on September 20th, 2018. Now, two years later, Radical Fish Games has brought the title to the Nintendo Switch.

Overall, CrossCode is charming, action-packed, and an extremely fleshed out product. I was politely taken by surprise when I booted the game up and saw its art style. CrossCode’s style is reminiscent of the SNES days, and when combined with an 8-bit soundtrack, made me feel like I was thrown back in time. I loved it.

CrossCode creates an experience that embraces the player’s curiosity and even gives a wave to the MMO genre. The game takes place in the online world of “CrossWorlds,” an MMO that allows players to take control of an avatar and experience the game with their senses.

You play the role of Lea, a sincere, strong, and mysterious character who isn’t sure who she is or how she got here. However, as you navigate your way through the game, you will find answers to the questions you have, as well as some trouble along the way. The game is filled with a mixture of dynamic combat and strategic puzzles you will need to solve. Good luck, you’ll need it!

Crosscode

Gameplay

CrossCode encourages the player to explore and provides ample options for varied combat and strategy. The game has a wide variety of skills that you can unlock and level up throughout your journey, while also giving you the option to switch your loadout to fit your current playstyle: a system not unlike the skill trees in Diablo 3. It’s a really excellent feature that adds to the experience of piloting your avatar. 

That being said, the first few hours can feel like crawling through the mud in terms of pacing. An annoyingly long tutorial combined with an overwhelming amount of quests and side-quests leave the beginning a little daunting. Worry not, once you break the first barrier, the pace picks up. 

Additionally, the game has a scaling difficulty for combat:  the longer you fight and the more combos you pull off, the harder the enemies get and the better the loot gets. I found that the difficulty changes pretty quickly from rank to rank. Keeping your streak up requires registered hits on enemies or damage taken. This is easy enough to maintain unless you are dealing with highly mobile enemies.

These can reset your difficulty quicker than you’d think, which I found frustrating. As far as which version you should play, I recommend the game on PC. Although the port game performs wonderfully, the controller layout for the Switch doesn’t lend itself to being able to quickly use the many abilities and attacks you’ll need to survive. So, unless you’re itching to play it on the go, stick with the PC release.

Along with combat, you’ll find yourself exploring dungeons and using the same skills you use in fighting to instead solve the challenges laid out before you. I will say, this element provides a nice contrast against the high-volume fighting and lets you step back and think about what you need to do to move forward.

CrossCode Gameplay Screenshot

Audio/Visual

The crown jewel of CrossCodes is it’s beautiful 16-bit world. A combination of Stardew Valley and Death’s Gambit, this game is not short on the breadth and complexity of its visuals. There are a ton of dungeons, unique mechanics in the open world like teleportation crystals, and plenty of cool enemies to beat up.

What seems like a shoutout to anime fans, you will notice Lea runs ninja-style with her arms behind her back, which I think is a very cool reference. While there is no spoken dialogue in the game, characters are represented by melodies when they “speak”. This allows for both emotional and comical moments to shine through.

CrossCode – Overall Thoughts

I give this game a 7/10. It’s a port that performs quite well, even though the controls might feel awkward at first. It tells a unique story in an interesting way. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I would definitely recommend it.


CrossCode is developed by Radical Fish Games, and published by Deck13. The game was recently released for Nintendo Switch but is also available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Find more of our game reviews by clicking HERE.

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