Review – CrossCode (Switch)
When I reviewed CrossCode almost 2 years ago, I had nothing but praise for that game. That was a surprising indie hit that ended up becoming one of my favourite games of that year, even though I had never even heard of it prior to tackling it. The game is finally out on the Switch, and as expected, it just feels right at home on Nintendo’s platform.
Set in an MMO known as the CrossCode, you play as Lea, an avatar who has lost her memory of the real world and can’t speak. Hunted down by a mysterious antagonist, you are forced to retreat back into the Cross Worlds and progress through the MMO in order to recover your memory.
The world of CrossCode is filled to the brim with charming and interesting characters. Lea’s voice module has been damaged, meaning she only has a limited range of words starting with “Hi”. Yet she is a great protagonist due to her emotions being displayed in portraits during dialogue sections. Other characters are just a joy to be around. Emilie, your very first companion, acts as your guide, introducing you, the player, to the world around you. She is funny and charming. There’s even an obnoxious character that keeps accusing Lea of cheating, because like in every online game ever, you will always run into that one guy.
When I first reviewed CrossCode, I wasn’t really much of a MMO player, but have since put in time into games like Elder Scrolls Online. Playing ESO has made me respect CrossCode even more because of how the game manages its MMO-ish setting. The CrossWorlds feel lived in, with NPCs and merchants everywhere, and “players” doing their own thing. They will be hanging around in hubs, running across the world and having their own conversations that you can listen to. The only thing you won’t see them do is fighting enemies. Even the questing system and levelling system feels like it’s pulled out of an MMO.
CrossCode is absolutely packed with content as well, taking upwards of 70 hours to complete the main story and a good amount of side quests. It’s a lot of bang for your buck with just how much varied content there is in here, with equal amounts of combat, puzzle solving, platforming and exploration all having their time to shine. Though the side quest content is the usual MMO-style filler of collecting resources that can admittedly get a little bit dull after a while.
The combat is fast-paced and a lot of fun. As a spheromancer, Lea can fire off ranged attacks and chain them with fast melee attacks. Lea has a basic melee attack that is activated with the attack button. Aiming with the right stick will change this to a ranged sphere attack that can be charged to deal more damage or bounce off walls. Chaining these together with her dodge ability will let you build up a combo whilst avoiding damage. Finally, you can use a shield that will reduce the damage taken. It’s an intuitive and addictive combat system.
That’s only the basic core gameplay as well. It is much deeper than what the previous paragraph summarised, thanks to an extensive progression and skill tree system that allows you to upgrade Lea’s base stats and unlock new abilities. These abilities can be chained with your base attacks and be further upgraded as you progress through the game. You will also gain access to other elements, further deepening the experience with more skill modifications. Yet, due to the simple controls, it’s not overwhelming at all.
The platforming is rather basic but still a lot of fun. Like more modern Zelda games, jumping is automatic so it takes the timing out of it but not the challenge. The challenge comes from figuring out how to get from point A to point B. Often times, getting to a secret will have you taking hidden paths through multiple zones. It makes the world feel much more connected and not just a collection of smaller maps. The only real criticism I have is that it can sometimes be difficult to read the height of a platform. At worst this means you might have to traverse through multiple zones again to get back to where you were at.
Sprinkled throughout the game are large dungeons that are primarily puzzle-based. Making use of Lea’s abilities, you will be largely shooting switches, bouncing your projectiles off walls and other objects. It makes great use of the gameplay systems you are already familiar with. As the game progresses, these puzzles get increasingly more complex, but they rarely feel unfair, as the game, teaches you these mechanics intuitively. The puzzles are a lot of fun providing some of the best content in the game. These incredibly lengthy sequences may be a sore point for some players looking for a more straightforward RPG, but for me, these were some of the best moments in CrossCode.
CrossCode is a game where every single feature impresses on some level. The combat, puzzles, progression, world and platforming all come together for an RPG experience that was much better than what I was first expecting. Playing it on the Switch feels amazing and the game fits right at home. The 16-bit art-style is a joy to look at with superb use of colours and excellent world designs. Characters display a surprising amount of emotion with their dialogue.
Two years ago, I fell in love with CrossCode. Playing this brand new port on the Switch just reminded me of why I loved that game so much back in the day, and to be fair, this might even be the superior version of this already pristine game. It feels great on a portable. This is highly recommended to RPG fans and retro gaming fans in general.
Stunning retro 16-Bit art style set a colourful world.
Fast-paced and fluid, CrossCode is a joy to play. The only slight point of criticism in the gameplay department is the amount of repetitive sidequests in here.
Much like my review from two years ago, the sound department is very solid, with some good tracks in here, albeit less memorable than what the rest of the game offers..
Fun Factor: 10
CrossCode is a must-play for fans of RPGs, 16-bit games and MMO’s. It feels right at home on a portable system like the Switch.
Final Verdict: 9.5
CrossCode is available now on PC, Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Reviewed on Switch
A copy of CrossCode was provided by the publisher.