Review: Crossing Souls (Computer)

Crossing Souls: Official GBAtemp Review

Computer 1,556 view 1 like 5 comments
Reviewed by Prans Dunn, posted Feb 22, 2018, last updated Feb 22, 2018
Feb 22, 2018
  • Release Date (NA): February 13, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): February 13, 2018
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Developer: Fourattic
  • Genres: Action, Adventure
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Also For: PlayStation 4
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
‘80s vibe? Check. Weird happenings in town? Check. A group of teenage protagonists? Check. A group of teenage protagonists riding bicycles? Check. No this is not Stranger Things: The Game but rather, Crossing Souls!
Prans Dunn

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Summertime Sadness

During the summer of 1986 in the town of Tajunga, young Kevin finds a corpse upon adventuring in the nearby forest the forest. To investigate further, he calls his friends who thereafter discover a strange artifact on the dead body: a purple pyramidal object.

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After doing some research, the team finds out that it is the Duat, an ancient Egyptian device that has the power to link one with the world of the dead!

However, unbeknownst to the kids is that a powerful group of baddies, under the command of Major OhRus, is also after the Duat and will do anything to get a hold of that unique artifact from the unsuspecting teens.

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And so begins Chris, Matt, Charlie, Big Joe and Kevin’s eventful summer of ‘86.

Attention: Nostalgia Abound

Crossing Souls garnered quite some attention on Kickstarter with over 1500 backers investing in the game; backers who were most likely enticed by the title’s promise to provide them with hi-bit aesthetics, Saturday-morning cartoon cutscenes, heavy pop-culture references and even the musical component all too reminiscent of an era of gaming and geek culture long gone.

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Indeed Crossing Souls shamelessly plays on nostalgia, aiming directly to gamers' cherished memories of retro games and "the good old days" to entice them to play it. So much so that its integration of overused tropes and Easter eggs feel borderline cringey and uninnovative at times. I mean, it’s all cool to have an NPC character break the fourth wall to identify himself as such or see a poster of Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg plastered on a wall but being constantly reminded of similar references only shows that the game is trying too hard to be among the “cool kids” and make the game feel unoriginal during these instances. On top of that the narrative is too shallow at times and the progression ends up being too predictable.

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Why is Virgin Atlantic guy playing bad cop…?

Now concerning the protagonists, tell me if you haven’t heard of a more cliché group than this: Chris the born leader, Matt the nerdy one of the bunch, Charlie the only female in the band whose beauty matches her fearlessness, Big Joe the brute force with a tender heart and Kevin the funny one. It doesn’t end there, the game’s big bad antagonist is named OhRus (get it? Horus?) who lurks in a lair which plays a tune that is all too reminiscent of the Imperial March. Oh and OhRus even force chokes his underlings...

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Regarding the gameplay, it is is your regular top-down melee-focused action-platformer and some other sequences that reminded me of Streets of Rage, Heart of Darkness and Galaga! Crossing Souls offers a decent balance between some challenging boss fights and more laid back adventuring or puzzle sessions with fluid and intuitive controls. Each character has a special ability like jumping or moving heavy objects but each one cannot perform all actions. The game will therefore have you swapping between characters on the fly to get yourself acquainted with each and somewhat try to connect the player with the gang. While useful, this mechanic often feels like a double-edged sword where you have to keep switching between characters to perform some basic actions.

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The game feels unforgiving at times when you have to restart from a far away checkpoint if only one of the character’s LP goes down just because you weren’t quick enough to switch between characters or the stamina bar that goes down even when standing still on a ladder.

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What will get most gamers hooked on Crossing Souls is the beautifully rendered universe that it takes place in. Each Chapter will have varying animated environment for you to explore or just take a moment to appreciate with the accompanying retro musical score. To flesh out the splendid world that Fourattic built, you can interact with most of the NPCs and some even have different dialogues depending on the character you choose!

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Where Crossing Souls surprised me is when it unfolded and dealt with heavy issues like life and death, friendships and commitments and even have some unexpected twists; issues that were meant to have a heavier impact but were downplayed by the average writing and weak dialogues.

Cross My Heart Soul

Crossing Souls is not bad as such. It will provide some amount of entertainment for anyone looking to try it out and will surely get you to crack a smile more than once with several of its Easter eggs or cheesy jokes. However it could have delivered much more if it tried leaning less on the nostalgic aspect and worked more on being a original, well written title in its already beautiful universe.

attachThumb115213 Get Crossing Souls on GOG right here!

Verdict
Pros
+ Beautifully animated retro-styled universe
+ Music score
Cons
- Overused tropes and references
- Shallow narrative
8 Presentation
The well executed hi-bit animation that embellish the world of Crossing Souls is definitely its best feature.
6 Gameplay
While fluid, the gameplay is not always at its best especially with some mechanics that could have been improved upon.
6 Lasting Appeal
A one-shot game for anyone looking for a casual retro-inspired game, not without its flaws.
6.8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Crossing Souls relies too often on tropes and pop-culture references that it forgets what makes it good. A casual adventure game in a beautiful universe.
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