The 1980’s was a magical time for kids of the decade. We fought gang members, built advanced sci-fi weapons that endangered our neighbors, and occasionally stumbled upon dead bodies possessing magic artifacts. Good times. Okay, so that probably wasn’t the way most 80’s kids lived in real life. But it sounds like a solid material for a good coming-of-age tale, a genre Crossing Souls channels to an absurd degree. After checking out the free demo, here are my thoughts on Devolver Digital’s supernatural teenage odyssey.
Players control a ragtag group of friends who stumble upon a magical artifact. Crossing Souls plays like a top-down action/adventure game. The party of companions (five in the demo) can be swapped on-the-fly, each with their own unique abilities.
Chris, the leader, has a baseball bat attack and can climb up certain surfaces. Obligatory nerd Matt fires laser blasts and uses rocket boots to soar over gaps. Big Joe acts as the heavy, swinging powerful punches and possessing the not-so-fun talent to push boxes. Charlie, the girl, attacks with her whip-like jump rope and dashes around Hyper Light Drifter style. And finally, there’s Kevin, Chris’ kid brother who blows bubbles and farts a lot. Yeah, Kevin’s kind of terrible.
With the exception of Kevin (at the moment), each kid feels enjoyable enough to use in battle though Chris and Charlie became my go-to’s. Outside of combat, some obstacles required a combination of their talents to overcome. What I played wasn’t anything complicated; Big Joe pushed boxes together to create a platform for Matt to rocket across a big gap. But the teamwork aspect has the potential to lead to some cool exploration challenges.
The story opens the day after a massive storm wiped out the town’s power. Beginning with Chris, you make your way through the neighborhood gradually picking up the other party members. Exploring the wacky neighborhood and chitchatting with its residents can lead to funny moments and I’m digging the goofy tone.
At one point, I entered a Poltergeist-style haunted house complete with references to said film and others. A deranged homeless man warned me of invading aliens out to steal the town’s whiskey supply. To recruit Charlie, her drunkard father forces the kids to compete in a fight pit against hillbillies to prove that they’re capable of protecting her. 80’s homages abound, whether it be nods to Back to the Future or a fortune machine reminiscent of the Zoltar machine from Big. The writing completes the package which straddles the line between endearingly hokey and just plain dumb.
One nitpick about the writing that continually bugged me was the lousy formatting for the dialogue bubbles. By that I mean text will bleed into a second bubble but only for the last one or two words. For example:
“It’s time for you to enjoy the summer, but watch out, last night’s storms caused a lot of problems around town. The neighbors seem pretty stressed…
Beyond going around and beating up rats and purple-clad gang members, I completed simple sidequests. Restoring power to the arcade and exterminating vermin from a hygienically questionable diner did little for me gameplay wise. Conversing with the crazy quest givers filling up your journal of contacts proved to be the most alluring aspect of helping out others.
Once the ridiculous main antagonist revealed himself and the plot started to roll, the demo concluded. But the more time I spent in Crossing Souls’ hyper 80’s world, the more curious I became about how the story and gameplay evolves. It plays well enough and the party element seems like it could grow into something special. The presentation, especially the old-school animated cinematics, charmed me. Only Kevin made me want to put the game down, because, once again, he is the worst.