Have you ever seen something so beautiful you instantly fell in love? Only to have the cold harsh reality of life come crashing down upon you later when you realize it was all too good to be true? Crossing Souls tickled all my fancies: unique fun art mixed with a solid premise: you are a group of RAD TEENS in the 80s that have found an object capable of harnessing UNTOLD POWER and CONTACTING the DEAD. Now there’s some evil government officials who are going to wreck you for this power, cue adventure.
Devolver Digital published Crossing Souls in 2017 and my experience playing is on the Nintendo Switch. I’m a pretty big fan of most of their games, but after a certain point Crossing Souls did hit a point that I seem to find in a bunch of Devolver games: where challenging became frustrating and it just wasn’t worth it any more.
I would never want anyone to assume I didn’t like Crossing Souls, I loved Crossing Souls, and I would really recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of adventure games or is already a Devolver Digital fan. Lets bust this shit up.
Crossing Souls is gorgeous. It has awesome pixel art and fun designs all over the place, the gameplay element of switching kids to have access to different abilities means gameplay stays fresh. I personally really like how the characters have different health bars, it adds an additional “puzzle” in the form of health management and healing item distribution.
You also have the added gameplay element of a device that when activated lets you see the souls of the dead, it adds some fun color throughout the game in the form of old ghosts in modern settings but at a certain point the question becomes “why would I ever turn off the device that lets me see the dead???” . I also have a personal bias in my love of this game’s aesthetics as I’m a sucker for 80s vibes.
I really struggled with what to say about game play. Because most of the time in this game gameplay is really fun! But for me it still has too many parts that fall on the “frustrating” side of the difficult/frustrating scale.
The beautiful graphics can make platform decisions more difficult than they need to be and occasionally the game will interject different gameplay styles in what could be an attempt to keep things fresh but ends up either falling flat (in the case of a button mashing mini-game) to being a frustrating and un-suited roadblock (a bullet hell flyer section?!) At one point there’s even an old-school style password puzzle where no – the hints aren’t added to a notebook, you’ve got to bust out some pen and paper.
Usually I would encourage gameplay style changes as they keep everything fresh, but the way that these are implemented just doesn’t quite make the cut. These frustrations aren’t always present but in a linear story based game like this one becoming too frustrated to continue means basically losing the value of the game.
Boss fights at their best are a accumulation of all the skills gained through the game put together and with a twist to test you, while the major bosses or challenges of this game always just seem to be a random new function with no ties the the skills you’ve already gained.
Overall I actually would say this game as worth a purchase for me. Between the cool graphics and the (mostly) fun gameplay I got my money’s worth out this one. The devil for this was not in the details, the details were amazing. Different characters will comment differently on scenery, the arts is gorgeous, and the setting and tone is a excellent mish-mash of 80s colorful and classic horror creepy. The story is a bit hokey but fun if you like extra cheese on everything and the characters are at their worst pretty basic and at their best pretty fun. I played the game, had a great time, loved what I was looking at and then didn’t finish because it just wasn’t worth it.