[Review] CrossCode – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kevin Orme
  • Developer: Radical Fish Games
  • Publisher: Deck13
  • Price: $19.99 / £17.99
  • Release Date: 03/07/2020
  • Review Code Provided by Deck13

Physical Edition Available for Pre-Order here

Introducing CrossCode Switch Review

There is a friend of mine that I talk to a lot these days. You might actually remember him from a review I made awhile ago about the Mega Man Zero/ZX collection. For the greater part of three years he has opened my eyes to some hidden gems in the gaming world and I have in turn shown him some treasures of my own. I remember him talking about CrossCode a LOT when it was brand new and I remembered the name when I saw the trailer saying that it was coming to the Switch, so you can imagine that I was excited to finally give this a go.

So whaddaya say? Let’s check this thing out!

INITIALIZE!

CrossCode puts you in the digital shoes of Lea, an amnesiac girl who is playing in a sort of AR-RPG/MMO herself called CrossWorlds. I say AR-RPG (or Augmented-Reality Role Playing Game) because the avatars aren’t playing on a fictional island. This place is real, but the avatars are digital. It’s pretty neat! The game starts with a sort of mysterious backstory giving you just enough of a taste of the story you are going to unravel before anything is spoiled. Fast forward to you waking up in the care of some fine friends who teach you the basics only to be confronted by another mysterious character who has a pretty hefty beef with whoever you used to be. Before you know it, you’re off to the races as you head to join the rest of the players in CrossWorlds while your new friends try to help you from a distance.

The story picks up fast from there. Before too long you find a friend and team up to take on the challenges ahead as a party. You start doing what every good RPG should: beating the snot out of anything that moves. Fights are in real time and go pretty quick, but every new enemy is nothing to treat lightly as every enemy is a valid threat that can end your life faster than you might expect. Your quest is to not only complete the game you are a part of, but also discover who you are and what all of that craziness with the beginning scene and that guy who has a beef with you.

Now, there are some very important things that aren’t helping you on your quest: When you log into the game you can’t talk. There was an error with your avatar so you have no ability to talk. You can interact with people, but you have no words. Thankfully, one of your new friends has the ability to hard program simple words to your character, but those come slowly. You start with a simple “Hi”, then you learn your name “Lea” and then you learn simple words from there. In short, you can’t just tell your friends what’s going on. It adds an interesting mystery to the already great pile of mysteries.

A Game Within A Game

Lea has a lot of tools at her disposal to fight the waves of monsters and traps ahead of her. Lea is a class in the game called a Spheromancer; meaning that she has a blade on both arms and the ability to shoot from a distance. Some of the standard action RPG basics are here as well: dashing up to three times, charged attacks, leveling up, puzzles and so on. Now, what really sets CrossCode apart from other games like it is how much fun it is to do everything that the game offers.

Nearly every item in the game can be crafted through collectibles and loot from enemies and a stack of cash (which you also get from smacking enemies around), which is really nice. Sure you can eventually find a store and buy some good stuff, but better weapons and items are available faster if you craft them through people who offer them to you. This also leads us into the combo system, which is a pretty fun way to hunt for items. See, when you get into combat a meter starts up in the top right corner of the screen with a “C” rank. As you deal more damage to enemies that meter increases until it completes and moves up a rank (C,B,A,S). The higher the rank, the higher chance you have to collect rare loot! However, there are some caveats:

  • After you have defeated the current group of baddies, you have about 8 seconds to find more or your meter resets back to 0
  • As long as you are in combat mode, you can use healing items, but you do not automatically heal like you do while in non-combat mode
  • Dying in combat resets all enemies you have defeated and experience gained

This balance between risk a reward is such an amazing feeling when you get into it. There have been more instances of me honestly looking at a combat scenario coming up and having a moment of hesitation as my health is low but my meter is high. Should I take that risk? I can probably do it! (Narrator: He could not, in fact, do it. Nor was He close). It’s fun and I highly recommend it.

Fighting Smarter AND Harder

The level-up system is fun as well. Throughout the game Lea will find what they call “Circuits” that act as skill trees to increase her abilities. Anything from simple stat boosts to new powerful attacks that deal immense damage to your foes. As you gain experience and level up you also gain SP which can be exchanged for these new abilities. However, the game knows that the same approach doesn’t work with every foe. Sometimes you have to change things up! The fine folks that made CrossCode let you do just that. Do you want to turn your projectile into a massive cannonball? Go for it! Wait! You want to swap it out for a mini machine gun volley? Switch it up! As long as you are not actively fighting an enemy you can change which branch you decide to go down for skills. It’s fabulous!

Not only is it supremely helpful to be able to change your powered up attacks and skills at a moment’s notice, but it is something much more powerful: It’s a perfect way to keep combat fresh and fun. Now, instead of being stuck with the same combos that action games get stuck in after so long you can mix things up regularly. The combat in CrossCode is nothing to sneeze at.

Pixel Perfection

This game is pretty freakin’ gorgeous, you know? I mean… LOOK AT THIS!

This is some masterful work on the visuals of this game! I can honestly say that this game’s art style belongs in the same channels of some of the greats out there today. CrossCode doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to giving your eyes a twelve course meal. This game is a joy to look at. Sometimes it can get a little bit cluttered in cities, but it is never unpleasant to look at. Bosses are exciting and foreboding, enemies are creative and silly when they need to be. But MAN that scenery! It really shows that the team on this game took about SEVEN years to make this game. This is beautiful.

The music is pretty great too. For a game like this where you spend a lot of time roaming around and beating up critters along the way you want the music to be engaging, but not grating when you hear it all for the 57th time. It’s groovy, it’s fun and it’s all wonderful. The tunes are solid and I never had a moment when I wanted a song to end.

ERROR [bug.exe] PRESENT

I will say that this beautiful and fun game is not exactly perfect. Now, given, I have been playing a pre-release build and there will likely be patches fixing the problems I found during my playtime. I will update this as those happen, so be on the lookout for those from the developers.

There are some noticeable moments where you can tell that the game is having a hard time loading menus. It’s nothing game-breaking, but you can tell that something isn’t right. Also, sometimes when the music is looping it won’t load or repeat, so you’re left without any music for a while until the game figures itself out or you load into an area that has different music. It’s not often, but it’s not cool when it happens.

There was only one chain of events that led me to a full on crash of them game. If you go to the botanical section of your index in the menu and you try to flip through pages by pushing R or L the game just shuts down. I’m sure it will get fixed, but those are the main issues I found. Again, for now, the more common bugs won’t stop you from enjoying the game, but until they get that fixed, you might want to stay away from that botanical page.

Hype Train Installed

Even with those glitches and whatnot, this game is still great. I’ve really enjoyed the solid puzzles in the dungeons, the interesting characters you meet along the way and the mysteries that keep unfolding as I push onward into the massive experience that is CrossCode. Seriously, if you have a few bucks lying around, this is a really solid investment. There is some serious love poured into this game and you would do well to have that love added to your life. Heck, we ALL could use some positivity these days.

PROS

  • Super polished gameplay with a pretty great difficulty curve
  • Fabulous music
  • Stunning artwork and design
  • Fun and engaging puzzles

Cons

  • Still a few major bugs to work out.
  • Combat can feel like you’re getting hit with cheap shots

Verdict
CrossCode is some of the most fun I have ever had with an action RPG and it is well worth every second you give it.

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