A Videogame Recommendation

July 19th, 2020

A VIDEOGAME RECOMMENDATION

Ask anyone at CD102.5, and everyone will tell you I’m the go to guy on the discussion of video games.  One of my joys in gaming is giving some voice to a niche or obscure title and passing it along, boosting its profile among my circle of friends.  Allow me to do the same for what I consider one of the best games of 2020 that is getting absolutely no attention.

CROSSCODE

Available now for PC, PS4, XBOX ONE, and NINTENDO SWITCH, this game was in development for nearly a decade by a small studio, funded via kickstarter.  The recent console port put it on my radar, and it is hands down one of the best games I’ve played all year.  So what is Crosscode?  It’s a single player Action RPG with a unique style and concept.  Let’s start with the concept. 

The game has the unique setting of being….a video game.  It’s set within a fictional MMORPG. Fans of the .hack or Sword Art Online franchises will be familiar with that sort of setting.  You’re playing someone who is playing a video game.  All the many NPCs and characters you’ll meet throughout the game?  They’re other people playing a video game, or actual video game characters.  The game world?  It’s been created by developers outside the game.  It’s a unique setting that goes out of its way to simulate a traditional MMORPG.  You’ll see other players running around the map on their own issues, run across people discussing raids or the various challenges in the game, Guilds to join, trading to be done.  All very cool stuff.

Of course being an RPG, there’s a story to tell.  I’ll be vague here because it should be experience as blind as possible, but there are two stories.  The first being the story of the fictional video game you’re “playing,” along with all the in game quests, stories, and lore involved with it.  The more meta story being why are you playing the game to begin with?  That’s all for now, but there’s a 40-60 hour story (with some people on PC clocking in over 100) filled with a fun, charming cast of characters.

Now on to gameplay.  The best way I can describe it is Secret of Mana meets The Legend of Zelda (specifically ones in the vein of A Link To The Past).  You fight with a mix of powerful melee attacks that can leave you vulnerable, and weaker but strategically safer long range attacks.  In game lore your character class of “Sphereomancer” launches “balls” across the screen to hit enemies.  In addition, you switch back and forth between a variety of elemental attacks and abilities, carefully matching skills and tactics to a wide variety of enemies.  It truly feels like the Secret of Mana sequel the US never officially got. Most importantly, on PC and PS4 and XBOX it runs at a rock solid 60fps (Switch owners I’m told performance currently is not brilliant but there’s a patch already submitted to fix known issues). In the time I’ve played I’ve only seen a small amount of menu lag. 

In addition, puzzles litter the game, especially in its many dungeons, to the point it’s jokingly been referred to as a puzzle game with occasional violence.    You’ll be surprised the amount of variety of puzzles you can make out of “shoot a ball at an object.”  Some of these get QUITE difficult as you go on.  As can the combat with the amount of enemies that can occasionally be thrown at you.  To counter that, the developers included difficulty options for both the combat AND the puzzles, allowing you to cater the gameplay to your own enjoyment.

Finally of course we discuss graphics.  Remember the Secret of Mana, A Link to the Past comparison?  Direct inspiration goes right into the graphics.  It could easily pass off as the final game of the SNES era.  Gorgeously rendered 16-bit sprites combined with a wide array of colors make for a beautiful throwback art style.  Add in the silky smooth frame rate, and it all comes together great.

So there you go.  That’s what I’ve got to say.  Give it a look. You might enjoy.

SCORE: 9/10