"All in all, I’d say the game has a lot of potential if the developers put as much care into the world as they have done with the controls. "
My inaugural E3 appointment was with Deck 13 Interactive, a publisher working with several indie studios. Most relevant to our readers was CrossCode, a retro-style, 2D isometric action-RPG that is taking a page from Zelda and Secret of Mana. In CrossCode, players will follow Lea, a silent but still expressive avatar in a fantasy-styled, computer generated world. I don't know much about the story, and what I did learn was cryptic and esoteric, but the game promises grand conspiracies, family drama, and endearing characters. I wasn't exactly drawn in from the outset, but I didn't have an opportunity to explore it enough to really make a judgment one way or another.
I was able to explore the gameplay, however, and I found the action-based combat and puzzling tight and responsive. Lea can attack both enemies and puzzles with a combination of melee strikes and projectiles. I played on a PC with an Xbox gamepad, and with melee combat in particular, I felt that my avatar always moved and reacted exactly how I wanted her to. Players can dodge, strike, and charge powerful super-moves. They can also exploit elemental weaknesses in enemies by equipping the appropriate element to their strikes.
The player also has the option to fight from afar using the "VRP system," which is a spherical projectile controlled with the right thumb-stick. Balls, as they are called in the game, can damage enemies and environmental hazards as well as activate switches to solve puzzles. If charged up, they will become more accurate and ricochet off walls, a necessary tool for solving puzzles. I found projectiles a little harder to use than melee attacks, to the point where I wished I was using a mouse and keyboard, but at least the developers have gotten the targeting reticle controls at just the right sensitivity.
Overall, the quick exposure that I had to the combat was satisfying, mostly due to the responsive controls, but I think this game's real potential lies in its world and puzzles. The Deck 13 representative compared the world to Zelda in that as new areas open up, they will remain available to players, and as players gain new abilities, they will be able to explore the world in new ways. Players can climb and explore the maps to find a variety of hidden nooks and secrets. Environments ranged from rat-infested warehouses to forested mountains to large castle towns. Overall, the rep promised 10-15 hours of main story content with an additional 10 hours of side quests.
CrossCode is being developed by Radical Fish Games and is currently in Steam Early Access, with new content apparently coming out weekly. The developers built a new HTML 5 engine to run the game, which will come to PC, PS4, and XB1. A full release is scheduled for early 2016.
All in all, I’d say the game has a lot of potential if the developers put as much care into the world as they have done with the controls. If they can give the players options and variety with Lea's abilities and create interesting ways to use those abilities, this could be a real gem.