A few weeks ago I was looking at the new additions to the Xbox Game Pass service and came across a retro 2D action RPG called CrossCode developed by Radical Fish Games and produced by Deck 13. Watching the game trailer I was instantly reminded of Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo years ago. The game is set in the distant future, hopefully later in the future than 1999 in Chrono Trigger.
The game starts by throwing you right into the action. Your character Shizuka is trying to save her brother Satoshi who is a computer programmer. Even though he is sick he refuses to rest and says that he needs to finish his final task before he is gone. Your character is trying to get to him but has to fight a bunch of enemies on the way so there is where you get your first tutorial on battling. When you finally get to Satoshi you find out that part of the agreement is if he finishes this project "they" will let his sister go. We don't know who "they" are yet but I'm sure it will come up again soon.
We are sent to the future and you start playing as Lea out blue haired heroine who is in a simulation. Like in a traditional RPG the main character you play doesn't talk. But there is actually a story to why this is, it's not like how you are supposed to be the main character so they don't speak for you. Lea is quickly thrown into Virtual Ricochet Projectile training. Essentially you learn how to use spheres and bounce them off of different objects to hit enemies and targets. Using the spheres is quite easy using a controller, you just have to think about the angles you have to throw at to make the ball go where you want. So you use the right thumbstick to and then to fire the ball you use the right shoulder button. As you progress in the training everyone acts like you have done this before. You soon learn that Lea is not just a regular player in this simulation, she has played before but she has lost her memory and they are trying to recover it. Once you finish your training you are sent to CrossWorlds. Crossworlds is like an MMO but the world in this game isn't virtual, it is real.
The artwork in this game is beautiful and has a ton of bright and colorful pixel sprites. When the characters are talking you see a close up of the character that are fully animated in the text box, so no still images here. The soundtrack is really catchy and I didn't find it was annoying or irritating like some other games. It sounded just like a retro style RPG which I love.
As you play in CrossWorld you will fight a huge assortment of enemies and learn new abilities. Besides just using your spheres for attacking you can also use weapons like swords and shields to defend yourself. I love that you have a tree of skills that you can learn as you level up your character. If at any point you decide you want to focus on different branches instead you can just transfer over the points you used. They aren't just lost and wasted on something you don't find useful. As you continue on your journey you will come across other characters who will join your team. Instead of attacking whatever they want like a mindless AI you have the choice to make them focus on what you want. They can be set to attack the same enemy as you are attacking or they can focus on who you aren't attacking.
If you happen to be defeated in battle you don't have to worry about being sent all the way back to where you last saved, the game starts you on that same screen so you can just get back into the action. There are so many quests to do in this game it will keep you busy for a long time if you decide to do all of the side quests. I have been playing for about 15 hours and I still have so much more to discover. Plus the developer is planning on having some post game DLC so there will be more to come. The cool thing is depending what platform you play the game one each one has its own unique miniquests that will all share a connection giving the game community a reason to interact and come together with each other while playing this game.
This game is definitely a must play for anyone who loves action RPG's. Plus there are headbanging meerkats, what more do you need?!? There is so much here to love and to make it even better you can get a preorder a physical copy of the game from https://crosscode.inin.games/ for those of you who love having the box. This game is on all the main consoles PC/Switch/PS4 for $19.99 and the XboxOne gamepass right now. If you just want to try it out there is a demo available on Steam and I'm sure you will fall in love.