CrossCode is a beautiful 16-bit ball-filled adventure

From the window to the wall, till puzzles take your balls

CrossCode is one of those games where I’ve heard mention of it by word of mouth, saw videos of it, but never though much of it. Then, I got bored and decided to try out the demo and boy, am I glad I did, because the game is wonderful.

The world of CrossCode reminds me of A Link to the Past in the sense that it has dungeons filled with puzzles, and an overworld replete with items waiting to be found which upgrade the protagonist’s weapons and stats. The demo, which can be downloaded or played in-browser, is fairly lengthy for an early product that is looking to get crowdfunded. It includes a story mission, a dungeon and an overworld area to explore. Each portion feels really polished with gorgeous 16-bit graphics, a nostalgia-inspiring chiptune soundtrack, and an interesting story complemented by engaging gameplay. 

Balls are your weapon of choice — that’s right balls. They’re useful in both combat and puzzle-solving. The balls can be charged up for a boost to damage, or they can be bounced to activate hard-to-reach switches. A melee attack can also be executed, which inflicts massive damage to an enemy crab boss. I played the demo with a mouse and keyboard, and aiming felt spot on; playing with a controller is also an option. 

The story centers around Lea, an avatar in an MMO that is seemingly mixed with the real world in some fashion. The demo’s mostly mum on details. Lea no memories and she’s also mute — the latter because her speech modules are having issues and her in-game designers need to fix them. Plenty of cutscenes show Lea nodding or emoting to get her point across, and the story in the demo was interesting enough to make me want to see more.

Do everyone a favor and go help CrossCode get made by throwing some cash at it if you see fit. As of writing, CrossCode is just over a quarter of the way to its goal of €80,000 (just shy of $85,000), with 15 days left. A Wii U version is one of the stretch goals, a console it would surely feel at home on.

Jed Whitaker