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Eliwood8

Double Cross Review

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2021258191_DoubleCrosslogo.thumb.png.1d481595f9d09046b8dc2c66159e8104.png13AM Games made a big splash in 2015 with their colorful party platformer Runbow, and now they're following it up with the single-player action-platformer Double Cross, co-published by Graffiti Games and Headup Games. Double Cross trades Runbow's short speed-based challenges and colorful design for classic 2D platformer gameplay and a fleshed out adventure story, but the developer's knack for addictive, charming platforming action is still on full display.
 
In Double Cross you play as Zahra, an agent of RIFT—Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology—an organization that is able to hop between different dimensions to keep the peace. An attack on RIFT headquarters itself sends Zahra on a multi-dimensional adventure to track down the culprit, the mysterious Suspect X, who may actually be a traitorous RIFT agent. It's a solid mystery story—though you don't actually have to piece together any of the clues yourself—and buoyed by an endearing cast of odd characters, from Dr. Sam Squatch who is a sasquatch to Agent Pineapple who is a…pineapple. In a story where literally anything can happen thanks to multi-dimensional shenanigans, Double Cross keeps things relatively simple, but as the plot develops you'll find it's more than just a good vs. evil story and actually speaks to some thought-provoking ideas about the duty of a regulatory force. Don't let that intimidate you though—at its heart, Double Cross is a fun, charming adventure with a whimsical cast of characters.
 
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The gameplay in Double Cross is classic 2D action-platforming, so much so that this feels like it could be a remake of a beloved NES or SNES title. There are all manner of platforming challenges to overcome here, and each region of the game puts a clever twist on the core gameplay mechanics with features like bouncy goo or zip lines. You're also able to tackle the game's levels in any order, which gives the game a nice sense of freedom and lets you prioritize certain levels if you find yourself stuck on another one. Zahra can also level up over the course of the adventure by collecting upgradium crystals in each level, unlocking both permanent upgrades and skills that can be equipped and swapped at any checkpoint. The skills don't completely alter how you play but they can be helpful boosts depending on the circumstances of each level and add a touch of customization to the gameplay.
 
The key unique feature in Double Cross is the proton slinger, which allows Zahra to grapple onto specific targets and pull herself forward. It is essentially a grappling hook, but the game puts it to good use in a variety of challenging scenarios, and it's always fun to quickly zip through the air in any game. The developers have also found something of a balance between ease and complexity: when aiming the proton slinger everything around you slows down so you can aim precisely, and you're also able to adjust your momentum mid-air, but there are still plenty of tricky areas in the game that put your 2D platforming skills to the test. In that regard it's not hard to see the echoes of Runbow at play, when you have to tap into an almost rhythmic sense of fluidity to survive the game's challenges. It's wonderfully satisfying to beat these sections, and the frequent checkpoints means even your failed attempts aren't terribly discouraging.
 
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Naturally Double Cross isn't just about platforming, as there's a combat element as well. Zahra can use light and heavy punches to defeat enemies and tackle intimidating bosses, plus there are a couple of special attacks that require energy. The boss battles have a great mix of fighting and creative platforming/dodging, but the standard combat leaves something to be desired. With only punches at her disposal Zahra's attacks just aren't terribly satisfying, and although you can unlock new attacks as you level up, such as a slide kick or uppercut, the standard three-hit-combo is the most effective more often than not, so fighting can feel a bit repetitive. Most enemy attacks aren't at all challenging to dodge either, so it's kind of up to the player to find creative ways to spice up combat by playing around with the special attacks, even if they're slower. It's not a bad system but the combat could have been more fleshed out.
 
Sharp 2D artwork gives Double Cross a stylish Saturday morning cartoon kind of look, which feels fitting as the dimension-hopping setting could easily translate to a weekly show. The environment design only offers the occasional visual thrill (although the Funderdome levels are certainly a highlight of the game), but the character design has plenty of personality and charm. Unfortunately the frame rate feels a little choppy at times, but thankfully it never interferes with the gameplay. The soundtrack is also something of a mixed bag, with several fun, catchy tunes but just as many that are less memorable. Still, the overall presentation in Double Cross has a delightfully light-hearted charm to it that easily pulls you into the game.
 
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Double Cross isn't a long game by any means—if you were to rush through the game you could easily finish it in a matter of hours. That would be a disservice to the game though, as there are plenty of engaging and challenging nooks and crannies to explore in order to find all of the upgradium crystals. More than just giving you a helpful edge with new abilities, hunting down upgradium helps flesh out the adventure and put all of Zahra's skills to the test. You can easily replay levels in order to retrace your steps and find crystals you initially missed, though there really ought to be an option to skip dialogue when you're replaying a mission to speed things along. Additionally, completionists can try tackling the various commendations (achievements) that can be earned, many of which offer a good incentive to replay levels once more.

 
Double Cross finds a comfortable groove in the classic 2D platforming mechanics of yesteryear, spiced up with a fun grappling system and sharp HD graphics. It is, perhaps, less brazenly original than Runbow, but the smart platforming gameplay shines through just the same, and this time with an engaging narrative that is both charming and thoughtful. Fans of platformers won't want to miss the dimension-traveling action found here.
 
Rating: 8 out of 10 Dimensions
 
Review copy provided by publisher
 
Double Cross is available today in the Switch eShop for a launch discount price of $14.99 (normal price $19.99).

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I watched a video review of this game by Nintendo World Report and they repeat most of the things you said here but the they say the plot gets dragged by bouncing you around your agents, that spoon feed you clues to what to do next.

 

Did you notice that? If the game is as short as you say this makes sense why they might pad up the length. If it is so, I'm not a fan of artificial padding such as that, which is a shame. I want to give this game a chance. 

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I wouldn't say the plot drags—RIFT headquarters is small enough that even when you need to talk to multiple agents it hardly weighs down the pace of the game. It does spoon feed you the plot points though, so even though the game is described as a mystery you don't actually get to do any sleuthing yourself, which is one thing that would've been neat to include.

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Hmm, thanks Eli.

 

I might pick this up, it's shame you can't pick up on the clues on your own. I like great mystery no matter the medium. Story is important to me in a video game, if it was going down that path.

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