E3 2015: Go Back to the 80s with Crossing Souls

Crossing Souls is yet another successfully crowdfunded video game. In 2014, it saw a huge burst of excitement on Kickstarter and with good reason. This title looked just like a video game rendition of an ’80s cartoon or film. Given the current average age for many gamers, it only makes sense that pushing heavily on ’80s nostalgia is a tremendous plus for the audience. Though we saw a bit during and after the campaign, a playable alpha build still isn’t open for backers (that’s planned to hit sometime in summer). As such, the early alpha build playable at E3 is an early glimpse as to how exactly the title is progressing.

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Fans of 80s everything will be happy to know development appears to be going well. The basic concepts are unchanged from the campaign pitch, but here’s the spiel for anyone who missed out. You play as a cast of five young friends who are in the midst of some totally weird takeover of their town. But that’s just barely scratching the surface. One of these children actually died… but luckily death isn’t that serious. As it turns out, the rest of the crew can still contact their dead buddy — and he in fact tags along with them as they adventure. It’s not just this one child, either. There’s actually copious ghosts hanging around in their alternate reality just raring to fight (or shed some wisdom on the group).

Ghosts aren’t just a narrative implement either. At times Crossing Souls’ gameplay requires switching between the living and nonliving characters in order to progress. For example, simple locked door puzzles can be navigated by simply having the ghost faze through the doorway without any issue. Of course, if you’re going to want to grab stuff from the room you’ll probably need to actually discover where the key is hidden first. Beyond that bit of puzzling, there’s also a good deal of action to be had.

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The first stage of the demo, which actually isn’t the start of the game, was a lovely little suburbia overwrought with strange gangs of people coming at you with weapons. Heck, even the cops were against the cast of kids! In any case, gameplay at these points was reminiscent of a beat ‘em up, except in a world where you’re free to go all directions rather than just scroll to the right. Each character offers up their own weapon type, and can be switched on the fly. When one character “dies” you’re free to pick up with one of the others. Just try not to exhaust your entire troop. Eating food found in crates and the like provides healing, much like classic video games. The second stage changed things up for a 2D Excitebike-esque level, but that’s where things ended for me.

At this point in time the only weird thing about Crossing Souls is the surprisingly high difficulty. No, it’s not actually impossible. With that said, the short burst of time I had playing led to a lot of sticky, dangerous situations which seemed tougher than necessary given that this is still early on in the game. It seems the developers are aware of this as they mentioned needing to tone down the difficulty, or at least scale it up in a more appropriate fashion. Outside of difficulty and a handful of glitches, Crossing Souls is progressing quite well. Here’s hoping the title will be able to make its expected PC release window of early next year.