Ah, the 80s. A simpler time. When you could easily dig into a bag of Funyuns and watch MTV’s Remote Control while listening to Ronald Reagan talking in the distance about tearing down the Berlin Wall. Of course, this would come before joining your friends at the multiplex for a showing of The Goonies before settling into the arcade for another round of Galaga.
While that time is long gone, there are products that remind us about that unforgettable era, like Netflix’s Stranger Things. But you can add another one to the pile with Fourattic’s triumphant platforming action game Crossing Souls, which perfectly channels everything great about the 80’s into a fun, moving story filled with plenty of memorable quips and twists and turns that you normally wouldn’t expect from a game of this nature. It’s way better than it lets on.
The game begins by following a group of friends who make a startling discovery – a dead body in a park. (Stand By Me, anyone?) Attached to this body, they find a strange gem that gives them the ability to see characters from the underworld, a mechanic that becomes important later on in the game. Of course, there are powerful forces that are after this gem as well, including a nefarious general who will stop at nothing to launch his next great initiative, The One Day War. So, this gang of teenagers must stop at nothing to make sure his forces don’t get their hands on it, while avoiding an even bigger, looming threat in the distance.
Fourattic could’ve easily taken the Four Swords route with Crossing Souls, making the kids run together as a group. Instead, though, you actually switch off between them in one entity (something they acknowledge humorously from time to time), using each of their abilities that come in handy. For instance, the “math nerd” is handy with a laser gun and can jet pack himself over long distances, while the signature “fat kid” of the group can move objects and deliver brute strength against enemies.
The game is part puzzle, part combat, as you’ll take on everyone from spectral spirits to gang members to crooked cops, all in the name of taking on the even greater force that’s looming over the city. The combat between each of the characters feels fresh and original, as it works off an energy meter that can leave you winded if you swing at too much too often. There are great secondary abilities here, like the girl’s dashing technique, perfect for dodging attacks or getting ready for leaps across large gaps.
And the crossover between the living and the dead comes in handy over the course of the game, too, as your ghost character (who we won’t spoil here) can cross through walls and collect things that living entities can’t. This lends more to the puzzle side of the game, and it’s pretty well done throughout, even though it’s easy to leave a character behind if they can’t get up a ladder or something. (Fortunately, they catch right back up.)
The balance of the game as a whole is terrific, and what’s more, you’ll see some nostalgic mini-games thrown in for good measure, like a Battletoads-style race stage where you have to avoid objects and go over jumps. (How nostalgic? I cursed the first few times that I crashed.) The Galaga tribute is pretty cool, too, albeit a little unbelievable. But, hey, the 80’s. As a whole, it’s a lot of fun, though some of the later boss battles in the game can be slightly tiresome when it comes to figuring out the right patterns.
But Fourattic really hits it out of the park when it comes to Crossing Souls’ presentation, which is a sheer winner. Between the wonderfully structured levels which tie events together within the game, and characters that look as if they hopped right out of a 16-bit affair, Souls has the graphics down pat. And I truly enjoyed the hand-drawn cinematics thrown in for good measure, straight out of a Dungeons & Dragons-style 1980’s cartoon. Make sure you collect the extra VHS tapes so that you can get the whole story.
And I loved the music. Put together by Chris Kobke and synthesizer master TimeCop1983 (not Robocop?), the music is completely 80’s, right down to the rock riffs and cinematic score, which almost seems in like with films at the time, such as E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. It’s really well done, along with the sound effects. There aren’t any voiceovers here, but they aren’t that necessary. Everything that’s included here fits right into place.
Crossing Souls may run a little bit out of gas towards the end, but it’s the journey, and not the destination, that truly counts. And it’s a magical one, filled with plenty of quips, cool puzzles and combat scenarios that will keep you tuned in. The boss fights are fun too, even if some are better than others. On top of that, the presentation is right on the money when it comes to nailing down nostalgia, and fans will feel right at home with it.
While Crossing Souls isn’t the ultimate time-travelling trip, it’s still a rad title worthy of your attention. As Cyndi Lauper once said, “It’s good enough for me.”
WWG’s Score: 4.5/50comments
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.