riostarwind's CrossCode (PC) review

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Cross Code does a good job of melding puzzle elements with a action RPG while still telling a compelling story

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Something about a single player RPG pretending to be a MMORPG has always been interesting to me. Trying to emulate such a huge thing seems almost impossible. Most games like this end up being really repetitive thanks to the fighting system being pretty forgettable. Yet for this game it manages to sidestep that problem a bit by making the gameplay more than just endless monster fights. But I am getting ahead of myself a little bit. Let me do a quick recap of what’s going on the world of Cross Code.

Unsure of what is going on we get a glance at a tragedy in motion as a sister loses her brother. Yet that scene quickly fades away as we get introduced to our protagonist named Lea. Who can’t remember anything and also can’t speak either. Existing only in avatar form she must make her way through the virtual MMO Cross Code to hopefully regain her memories. Yet beings from the virtual world seem to be seeking her out for some devious purpose. What they want shall only become clear as she makes her way through each zone.

Plenty of stuff to upgrade in a sphere grid like manner. Nothing seems that key although you can reset skill trees if needed as the game goes on.
Plenty of stuff to upgrade in a sphere grid like manner. Nothing seems that key although you can reset skill trees if needed as the game goes on.

Unlike a standard MMO this is all action based combat. Lea is a spearomacer so she gets access to a 3 hit spin move and a ranged orb attack. Using a mix of both styles is rather key in some of the bigger encounters. Plus certain moves can push away enemies like waiting for the ranged attack to lock on can blow an enemy back and also possibly open them up for a devastating counter if timed well. As the game continues Lea gains elements that can then be used to defeat enemies quicker. Special moves are also available to wipe out foes quickly.Along with a variety of new puzzle elements.

At the start you’ll see a lot of standard puzzles you’ve likely seen from years of game play. Moving blocks, hitting switches etc. Yet that gets upped very quickly to more interesting stuff. Each new element Lea obtains puts brand new factors into every dungeon. Like after earning the Wave ability it is possible to warp from one platform to the next along with being able to shoot an orb through a wall. Learning how these mechanics work is key to completing each dungeon since it just keeps stacking on what the player has learned before. When I was on a roll it felt amazing yet getting stuck for a while on something simple is always frustrating. It’s hard to find a balance but more than most I think Cross Code manages to keep things mostly balanced.

Plenty of good puzzles await but it does seem a bit lopsided with a bit too much of a focus on puzzles. Even most fights require some thought which is very good even if it’s overwhelming sometimes. Throughout the entire adventure I stopped playing the game a few times because I just did not want to wade my way through more puzzles room. Sure over the 35 hour adventure it isn’t too surprising to see some low moments but they are there. This is most notable in the dungeon area that had 3 dungeons super close together.

The 16 bit aesthetic has been reused a lot but it still looks quite good here. Each new zone is unique and has some neat looking areas.
The 16 bit aesthetic has been reused a lot but it still looks quite good here. Each new zone is unique and has some neat looking areas.

As a full package I enjoyed my time a lot. Was surprised by the story more than what it might imply at the start. Even if it trades one cliche with another. The combat is simple yet fun with plenty of puzzle rooms to test your skills without stumping you most of the time. If you're looking for a puzzle focused action RPG you won’t find many more games like this one. Check it out if it sounds interesting.

Other reviews for CrossCode (PC)

    An Unexpected Emotional Journey 0

    I bought this game on a whim after hearing it briefly mentioned on the Giant Bombcast. Sometimes I buy a game from an independent developer on a whim because it feels better than giving my money to a AAA publisher like an Ubisoft or EA. In this case, I am so glad I did. I've played 16-bit RPGs from the SNES and Genesis era and I can safely say that none resonated with me quite like this game did. The game takes place far in the future when humans have traveled to distant worlds. In this world, ...

    4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

    A Whole New Charming World 0

    CrossCode is a 2D indie action RPG reminiscent of SNES/PS1 era games such as Zelda or the Mana series with some of the trappings and dressings of an MMORPG sprinkled in a la the .Hack games. The developer, Radical Fish, toiled over the game for several years and it really shows; delivering an entertaining experience from beginning to end thanks to its charming characters, lovely pixel art, jaunty rpg tunes, and deep gameplay options.The game starts, like many RPGs have, with a brief prologue t...

    2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

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