CrossCode TechDemo ImpressionsPosted: 02/17/2013
Lining up a shot, angling a shot just right, and savoring every breath as you let out that prefect shot is what makes Pool such an satisfying game, and it’s that very same technical satisfaction that makes the early build TechDemo of CrossCode, an HTML5 Action RPG on the Impact.JS game engine, such an entertaining and interesting demo. While it is just a TechDemo, the current public version of CrossCode shows not only a technically sound build but also shows just how much potential this project has.
Game: CrossCode (TechDemo Version)
Developer: Radical Fish
Release Date: TBA
The story portion of this Action RPG cannot be discussed just yet, but the visuals and gameplay are more than worth some healthy analysis. Visually, Crosscode is a very simple looking game because as the developers put it “the devil is in the detail,” yet the simple aesthetic of the game manages to be quite pleasing and functional. Since there’s not an overly abundant amount of detail, every object on the screen is easy to identify and thus leaves the frustration of “What is this madly embellished contraption?” that too much detail can cause out the door. For this build, the developers also demonstrated a competent understanding of level design, as the various platforms that a player can jump onto are placed fairly close together. Because of this, the relative heights of each platform can be easily distinguished. This has very little consequence on the TechDemo, as there’s no risk to the platforming just yet, but this design promises that any later platforming sections will not be marred by any questions about what is or isn’t a platform or any questions about the height of a platform or object.
One small issue in the looks, though:
Yeah, if one places Botchan right where an enemy will spawn, then the playable character will appear to be inside the enemy. This actually ends up having no consequence at all, as the player can simply move out the enemy and afterward the enemy will be its usual non-transparent self, but it is slightly jarring. I mean, come on, the enemies hurt Botchan by essentially touching her, so being INSIDE on of them is horrible. Like I said, it bares no consequence at the moment, but if a large enemy were to spawn on top of Botchan in later releases this could cause some issues. Past that one issue, though, the game looks nice and being able to recognize what every object on the screen is at a glance is a definite plus.
As with the visuals, the gameplay of CrossCode is simple. In fact, the developers themselves described the full of the TechDemo’s gameplay in one, simple picture:
Why is this worth a healthy analysis, then? Simple, it’s worth discussion because of just how nice throwing balls is in CrossCode. Throwing a ball can be done in two ways. One way is to just quickly click or mash the LMB in order to do a Quick Shot or Shots, which are less damaging and less accurate than a charged shot, and another way is to hold the LMB and throw out a Charged Shot, which is more powerful than a Quick Shot but take some time without quickly changing the aim (which can happen by dodging or abruptly moving the mouse) in order to charge. Charging a shot also allows the ball to be bounced off of a wall, which adds another layer of depth to the simple act of throwing a ball. Throwing a ball in CrossCode really does feel like fast-paced Pool; there’s so much thought that can be put behind each shot even in the few scenarios that this TechDemo presents that each connected shot turns out to be simply gratifying and each missed shot is met with disappointment and, in some cases, panic about the enemies’ counter attack. The pressure put behind each shot really makes the act of “throwing energy balls at everything” so intense and makes CrossCode exciting.
However, CrossCode’s combat involves yet another mechanic, dodging. Dodging in CrossCode is done by simply holding down the direction one wants to dodge in and pressing the RMB. This causes Botchan to spin in the given direction for short distance. Dodging can be used to dodge enemy attacks and to cancel out the Shot Delay that happens for a short period of time after a Charged Shot. Even though dodging can be performed multiple times in a row, the enemies’ ability to correct the direction of their attack before actually charging discourages the rapid use of the dodge. Instead, in order to successfully dodge an enemy attack one must wait until the attack is just about to hit Botchan before dodging. This matador-y dodging style makes dodging an attack in CrossCode an exhilarating experience.
Now, it’s easy to look at the fact that those two mechanics, throwing a ball and dodging, are currently the only things the TechDemo offers and scoff at my excitement over this project, but that’s only if one doesn’t pay any mind to the Final Challenge that this TechDemo offers. The Final Challenge is where the combat really shines as its difficulty introduces a level of depth that the rest of the demo, which is mostly for introducing the simple, core mechanics of CrossCode, simply isn’t about. The Final Challenge challenges players to defeat waves of an increasing number of baddies (there are only two enemies that show up in this challenge, the mice and the charging top-looking robots), and as the number of enemies increases the player must start thinking about spacing, target prioritizing, dodging multiple enemy attacks, properly charging an attack versus just throwing out some balls, and a wealth of other issues in order to survive. Having to think about so many different things in this simple combat is what makes me most excited about this game; I’m used to dealing with a high level of depth and flow from Japanese action games and such, but the potential depth and the present flow of CrossCode’s combat is very intriguing.
I do have my reservations about the gameplay, though. Mainly, while the Final Challenge of this techdemo showcases the intensity of CrossCode’s combat, there’s no such demonstration for the puzzle mechanics of the game. Currently, the “hardest puzzle” one has to solve is angling a ball in just the right way to hit a switch. This can be largely excused because of the fact that this is an early techdemo that shows the core mechanics and little else, but it still leaves me with a fear that most of CrossCode’s puzzles will be figuring out how to angle a shot to hit a switch or how to angle a shot so that a box will be pushed in the right direction. Those kinds of puzzles are okay, but they leave a lot to be desired and if the whole game is full of them, they’ll get boring really, [i]really[/i] fast. I’m trying to refrain from suggestions as much as possible in this preview, but I hope that CrossCode’s puzzles are deeply intertwined with the combat mechanics, kind of like the Trial of the Warrior puzzle/fight from Devil May Cry 3. Hopefully my concerns about the puzzles of CrossCode turn out to be proven wrong.
This techdemo is only a very small portion of what Radical Fish has in store for CrossCode, yet it has already left a great impression on me and gives me hope that Radical Fish can truly deliver on their promises. If you like what you’ve read about CrossCode, please check out the techdemo by clicking the link given at the beginning of this preview, and if you have some comment you’d like to give about CrossCode then feel free to leave a comment on this article or to contact Radical Fish via their tigsource DevLog or from the contact given by their website.
+ Very visually pleasing game; everything is easy to distinguish.
+ Objects in the world are set close enough that one can tell the relative heights of the platforms
– Enemies can spawn on top of the player. They separate easily, but it’s still slightly jarring.
+ Very simple shooting mechanic, but satisfying and flows well.
+ Dodging is exciting
+ Final Challenge suggests a good amount of depth in the combat
* Worried about puzzles
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