What do you get when you mash the SNES classics RPG’s Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger with a setting and storyline reminiscent of Stranger Things?
A damn good game.
Normally I’ll get a generic email from a PR company. It’ll be addressed to an endless amount of similar gaming websites. It’ll contain a blurb about the game and then a line that typically reads something along the lines of ‘If you would like to request a review code for this title please get in touch.’
This time was a little different. Doug at Power Up (who represent Devolver Digital here in Australia) simply sent me a direct email with the code included and words to the effect of ‘Here, I think you might like this…’
Curious, I installed the game and fired it up. That was an intense and thoroughly enjoyable three hours ago. I’m only stopping because I want, nay need, to get the word out to everyone else about just how good Crossing Souls is.
In the Summer of 1986 our story begins…
I’ve had a bit of a hit-and-miss relationship with Devolver Digital. I won’t deny that. In their defense though, kudos to them for constantly pushing the envelope and trying new things; ultimately that’s going to mean sometimes you hit a foul. Sometimes though, sometimes you hit a home run. I’ve only spent a few hours with Crossing Souls but already I can see this ball has been knocked clear out of the park.
You know what made games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII so good? It wasn’t the graphics, the engine, mechanics or anything of the sort. It was the story. The story was engrossing and sucked us in. It compelled us to keep playing to find out what happened next, much like a good book. Crossing Souls possesses that same quality and I’m calling it now, this is going to be one game heavily discussed in 2018.
From what I can tell this is developer Fourattic’s first title that started as a successful Kickstarter title.
The story revolves around a group of misfit kids in the summer of 1986. While the adventure itself is unique, the world is absolutely chock full of easter eggs, homages, guest appearances, familiar locations, and plot points from other well-love stories. Much like Stranger Things, Stephen King’s stories play a big part, with players going on a journey to see a dead body and visiting the pet cemetery early in the game.
Is it just me or does Kevin look like Corey Feldman?
Visually, Crossing Souls uses a 16-bit theme that doesn’t feel unnecessary or cliche as I’ve found it to be in other titles. Hopefully, the low fidelity will also allow for the game to be run on low spec machines.
The game doesn’t feature any speech, much like a SNES title, but the soundtrack is fantastic with melodies sounding as though they were lifted directly from 1980’s flicks. You know, something like The Last Starfighter, ET or The Explorers and similar tales of kids on adventure.
In between exploring the richly detailed and interactive world at your own leisure (something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing) you’ll get animated cut scenes. These too are very reminiscent of 1980’s cartoons, complete with VHS tape tracking lines.
On firing up the game it strongly suggested a controller, but I shrugged and stuck with keyboard and mouse and had absolutely no problems at all. It’s not a twin stick shooter and I never felt I was fighting the controls. However, it’s nice to know that controller support is in there for those wanting it; a USB SNES controller might be neat.
Stephen King’s ‘The Body’ or if you prefer the movie ‘Stand By Me’. Complete with a piece of the Tri-Force.
All of it just comes together perfectly and absolutely nails that 1980’s coming of age movie we grew up with and loved. You just know there is going to be a kiss scene later in the game and everyone is going to make their parents proud.
While primarily the story follows our blue haired hero Chris, you can change to the other kids at will, each of whom have their distinct attacks and special abilities. You’ll use those to engage in combat, sometimes fighting thugs or rats in the real world, sometimes ghosts and ghouls in the spirit world. Combat is real time, much like Secret of Mana, or Zelda: Link to the Past.
You’ll also use those abilities to explore the game map and find all manner of secret loot which includes video games, audio cassettes and VHS tapes. I’m not sure yet if they are simply collectables or if you can actually use them in the game itself. I’ve picked up a few but not had a chance to head back home where the Walkman, video player and game console are located.
Map of the town.
The other thing I can’t vouch for at this stage is the length of the game. You know how you watch a TV show or movie though and there is that opening scene where some stuff happens and then five minutes later the opening credits or title appears? That happened for me in Crossing Souls after about an hour or more of gameplay, so I took that as a good sign. On top of that the images and videos online show a LOT of stuff I’ve not seen yet, so I’m hoping the game has some significant meat on its bones.
The hardest part is going to be keeping up the quality of story telling if the game reaches into the 10-20 hour length (or longer). Don’t get me wrong, I earnestly hope Crossing Souls is a long game, with kick-ass and engaging story to boot. You’ll have to wait until the game hits final version and is ready for review before I can tell you more.
Speaking of which, the game is due for release February 13th 2018, which will probably mean February 14th here in Australia. I’m not sure on the price yet but based upon the Kickstarter I’d hedge my bets on it being $19.95 USD on Steam (for Windows, Mac and Linux). Crossing Souls is also coming to the PS4 at the same time.
Add it to your wishlist, watch list and any other list you can think of. Crossing Souls is definitely one title you should be looking at in 2018.
Anyway, enough chatter. I have to get back to the game to find out what happens next! I’ll get back to you next month with a full review.
Official Website – http://crossingsoulsthegame.com/
Steam Page – http://store.steampowered.com/app/331690/Crossing_Souls/
Playstation Store Page – https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/crossing-souls-ps4/