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Hi, Lea, Hi! CrossCode! Bye!

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)

Someone will have to explain to me how it is that CrossCode has flown under Talking Time's collective radar, because this game feels like it was custom-made for folks like us. CrossCode is an action RPG that looks like it walked right out of the 16-bit era, but with modern design sensibilities! It looks and sounds fantastic! It has deep, challenging combat and devious puzzles, plus some of the best writing I've seen in this kind of game in forever. It's out on Switch, even! Basically, CrossCode rules and you should all give it a try.

If people want some more info, here's the deal: CrossCode is a game where you play an MMO. The game itself is NOT an MMO, it's a single-player action JRPG that has a linear story where you play as a character who is inside an MMO. You explore an actual alien planet that has been turned into an enormous theme park for players across the world, who use future technology to embody avatars in the physical space of the world via the internet. In practice, it just means that people talk like regular people who are playing a video game, and that your various party members will occasionally log off to sleep or go to school or what have you.

The gameplay itself is action-based and maybe reminds me of Hyper Light Drifter more than anything? You have melee and ranged attacks, both of which come in a staggering variety. The combat is fast-paced and challenging, although I think there are numerous accessibility options available if you find the game too hard. There's also a really big puzzle solving aspect, part of which is using your projectile weapon to interact with objects in the environment and part of which is traversal puzzles where you have to figure out how to parkour your way around the world. That last part in particular reminds me of finding the secrets in HLD, looking for a series of ledges that you can use to navigate your way to a seemingly inaccessible point.

The game is challenging on both fronts, but not punishing - autosaves happen at every screen transition, so you rarely lose more than a few minutes if you die in battle. The game has extremely generous fast travel options, too, so you don't waste a lot of time when backtracking to earlier areas (which you will often do in the course of sidequests). The puzzles are maybe the hardest part, but I've found them to be very satisfying to complete. I think there are also accessibility options just for them, but I honestly haven't looked into them. There are a few chests that I haven't figured out how to get yet, but I've been able to clear all the mainline dungeon puzzles by staring at the screen and poking things in the environment.

Finally, the writing in this game is really solid. Characters make lots of funny little observations as you run around and there's some good meta-commentary on the nature of role-playing games and MMOs. The first party member you get is one of my favorite characters in years and she has lots of surprising things to say. Equally important, IMO, is that the character designs aren't skeezy at all! At least not in the 20 hours that I've played so far. Basically, this game feels like if JRPGs kept evolving along the lines of FFVI, Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana, in some magic world where fanservice didn't exist. The only problematic thing I've seen so far is the race of lizard-people that you meet, who lean a little too heavily on indigenous tropes for my liking, but it's nothing egregious. If you've ever wanted to play a game that feels like you remember JRPGs feeling (and didn't want to be embarrassed whenever someone walked in the room and looked at the screen), then CrossCode is the game for you.

Give it a try, maybe? Bye!

(I know there was a thread back on Ye Olde Talking Time when the game was first released on PC, but it hasn't seen any activity since 2018 and I really feel like people aren't talking about this game enough.)
 

WildcatJF

I will not be stopping
(he / his / him)
I plan to pick this up soon. Was waiting for the patch for Switch, which I believe just happened
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
There has definitely been one big performance patch since I started playing it, which was much appreciated. I'll admit the Switch port still isn't buttery smooth, but that patch helped a whole lot and I would definitely recommend this version unless you're extremely sensitive to framerate stuff. Pre-patch, it juddered a lot in large areas, but it's quite a lot better now.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
It had the unbelievable misfortune of being released amidst a WHOLE BUNCH of other things I was just as jazzed for.

But jazzed to resume it I am!
 

Nich

infinity got my back
(he/him)
I think it went under my radar because I had it confused with that Kickstarter scam game about learning to code. Code Hero, that's what it was called.
 

narcodis

the titular game boy
(he/him)
This is a game I've had on my radar. I probably would've bit on the switch version immediately if it hadn't been plagued with performance issues at launch. I think I'll put this up there on my wishlist once I finish some of the stuff on my plate. It looks cool as hell.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I had this in my Steam library (based upon previous recs from Turtle and Kalir, IIRC) and decided to start it up tonight based on this thread. It's pretty good! I played for a solid couple of hours and had a lot of fun. It's clever and charming!

The preceding was my baseline reaction right up until just before I stopped playing for the night...

...at which point the one niggling question that I'd had ("WTH is 'CP'?") was answered and the game handed me a sphere grid.

GOAT, GOTY, can't wait to play more.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)
It's pretty solid and I know I've mentioned it on TT before, and I'm glad people are talking about it now.
 
I played a demo of this and it didn't click with me at all, I found the controls really frustrating. I should try it again now that it's on GamePass.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
JBear, you may need to take a moment to compose yourself before reading this, but there are multiple sphere grids.

That was supposed to be white text but I guess that tag doesn't work yet?
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Doesn't work on the night theme though; the shade doesn't quite match the background.
 

muteKi

say "fish don't exist" to my face, motherfucker
for some reason I always think this is the subtitle to a guilty gear thing and I don't know why
 

aturtledoesbite

earthquake ace
(any/all)
Not if you knew the secret hex code!

...which doesn't work here, since you can't control what theme each user has.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
All right, so uh, is anyone else actually playing this game? Personally, I've made it through the first two elemental trials and just opened up the area north of the starting city. I was a little discouraged to discover that it uses the same palette as the area just to the west of town. I guess that makes some sense, but I was hoping to continue seeing new scenery and monsters before getting too heavily into the palette swaps. There's also a thing in the story where Lea gets logged out and doesn't play for a few days, so when she comes back all the other characters have advanced past her in the story. That stings a bit because it's a problem that I have in real life. I play video games for escapism, dammit! Anyway, I think I've probably wrapped up most of the catch-up section, and the next bit is supposed to be something completely new: a raid! Curious to see how that's going to play out.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I am playing, but slowly! I spent the last couple of nights exploring the first big hub, and started to dip my toe into the first area. The areas are fun to navigate, but I'm not sure yet how I feel about this central gameplay loop of killing a bunch of enemies and then going back to town to trade for gear; I'm suddenly having misgivings about playing a game that's simulating an MMO! I'm sure it'll be fine, though.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I honestly almost never trade for gear in town. You find some as you explore, or you can just buy gear with money, and that's usually enough for me. I'm sure you can set up some game-breaking stats if you hunt down the components to get the best gear as early as possible, but that would probably require setting up spreadsheets to manage the various enemy drops and I'm just not interested in that. The game is challenging, but I've only rarely felt like I was being held back by my equipment.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I never said that it was! I'm Mr. No-grind! It's my thing! I'd sooner light my whole library on fire than grind even once in a video game. I just said that I had misgivings!
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)
There is exactly one check that matters for grinding for new gear: is the level of your gear on par with the area you're in? No? Go get new gear. Otherwise you're good.

Unrelated but here's a minigame I liked
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
So hey, I finally got to go on a raid last night! And things got...interesting.
So now I'm trapped in the red wastes with Lukas, who is unable to log out and seemingly in the process of forgetting who he is outside of the game. Pretty creepy! I don't entirely understand how that would actually work, mind you. Lukas is supposed to be some guy who plays the game for fun, so presumably he has family or friends that would notice if he just disappeared for several days? Maybe that will be addressed later. Anyway, I thought it was a neat twist, and the fact that the game plays things straight for so long (about 20 hours in my case) before pulling the rug out from under you really helps it land. I had heard things go off the rails at some point in the story, so I was expecting a changeup eventually, but I liked the way it was handled. Pacing-wise, it also happened right as I was starting to lose steam on the basic "play an MMO" part of the story, so this is a welcome change. Even if "you're stuck in a shitty place" isn't exactly my favorite trope in fiction.
Definitely curious to dive in and play some more now!
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I'm still playing, and really enjoying myself. My misgivings were completely unfounded. It has some of the trappings of an MMO, but you don't really have to engage with the loot/trading stuff at all. The game passes out plenty of loot as is, and a lot of the loot is just side-grades to suit different specs/playstyles anyway. I typically just kill enemies once.

That said, I definitely prefer the dungeons to the open areas, since they feel tighter and more rewarding. I do appreciate the robust map tagging, though, which makes it easier to fully explore the open areas, and I like how many of the puzzles in the open areas amount to "how to I angle a shot to hit that rare plant?"

Some of the puzzles/challenges are really satisfying. Puzzle-wise, I often find myself briefly banging my head against something only to realize that I'm going about it completely wrong, and the little challenge areas with optional difficulty modifiers are fun to speed-run.

I think I'm in for the long haul.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
Ah cool, I might pick this up. I'd been thinking of Indivisible but after all that... unpleasantness I don't think I want my money going directly to the studio head who fired everyone.
 
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