The Mana of Zelda ft. .hack//
Platform: PC, Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Radical Fish Games, Deck13
Publisher: Deck13, WhisperGames, Mayflower Entertainment, DANGAN Entertainment
Release date: Out now.
Tl;dr: Borrowing elements from the Zelda, Mana and .hack// series to create one of 2020’s most outstanding games.
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Before we start this review, we would like to mention you can grab one of three physical editions these include standard, steelbook and collector’s edition and you get them over at the Official CrossCode website.
During the early ’90s, we got to experience some breathtaking games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Secret of Mana. Of course, there are many more but I’ve singled these two out in particular as they best represent the game we are here to talk about today, CrossCode. No, I’m not saying because they share a pixel art style but because CrossCode clearly takes inspiration from these games for the gameplay, even to the point of mentioning it within their marketing, well, the Zelda aspect.
CrossCode follows the story of Lea, an amnesic who awakens within the MMO, CrossWorlds, a full-on deep dive VR MMO kind of like .hack// or Sword Art Online. Because she has a full on case of anmesia, you are guided by a guy who wants to help you regain your memories through the game but for an unknown reason, she is told to keep a low profile as to not draw suspicion. This is ends up being pretty easy as she’s mute because her speech module doesn’t work; it was a common bug within CrossWorlds during the early days. Lea is thrust into this world to search for answers, making friends along the way, who can join your party like in a real MMO. It can take some time before the story gets going, but once it does, it will sink its teeth into you.
Gameplay-wise, I’ve mentioned briefly above it draws inspiration from The Legend of Zelda and the Mana series as a sprite-based action RPG with the dungeons being filled to the brim with puzzles. I should first mention that Lea is a Spheromancer, the first class to be introduced within CrossWorlds. It is a balanced class that focuses on ranged combat but can also use physical attacks. This makes you think on your feet during combat as some enemies are more likely to be hindered by your ranged moves rather than melee or vice versa. In fact, some enemies need to be stunned before their defenses drop and a well-timed sphere might be the key to victory.
As I mentioned before, the dungeons are overflowing with a variety of puzzles you need to solve in order to gain the power sleeping within them, similar to the Zelda games. At first, these puzzles are simple enough, but as you progress through the game, they become a little more difficult and trickier. Varying from timing a perfect sphere toss to hit a target or throwing a sphere whilst chasing it to knock down barriers so it can hit that switch. The puzzles in CrossCode are a perfect blend of lateral thinking and dexterity which is a little difficult for me with my shaky hands but CrossCode comes with various difficulty sliders including enemy damage, enemy attack frequency and one to slow the puzzles down which I had to time some of the more precise shots. CrossCode is meant to be a challenging game, unfortunately, my disability let me down on some of the dexterity challenges.
Graphically, CrossCode is a 16-bit game with gorgeous pixel art that sometimes had me just sitting an admiring some the views and I’m not kidding when I say they are gorgeous. All the boss creatures from the big ones all the way to the smaller ones are highly detailed. The soundtrack reflects the mood of wherever you are, whether it be the relaxing beats of Rookie Harbour or the icy twinkling sounds of Bergen Trail, CrossCode has the perfect sounds to go with the beautiful as well as the heavy moments that await you.
Overall, CrossCode is definitely a must-play for action RPG fans whether it be newcomers to the genre or longtime players looking for something to remind them of their childhood/teen years. The guys and gals at Radical Fish Games truly knocked it out of the park with CrossCode and I hope to see it nominated for a few categories at The Game Awards this year! This game is incredible with the only flaw being a few minor crashes but nothing a quick patch won’t sort out and it barely hinders the experiece.
- An amazing story that starts slow but hits hard as soon as the gears start turning!
- Beautiful pixel art throughout.
- A great combat system which has you swapping elements on the fly.
- Strong thought-provoking puzzles to great that grey matter buzzing.
- Crashes when entering the in-game encylopedia.
CrossCode is rated PEGI 12 and T for Teen by the ESRB. Just some mild swearing but nothing little Jimmy can’t handle.
This review is based on a retail code of the game supplied by PR for the purpose of review.