The 80’s were a time full of coming of age movies that still resonate today. The comparison to Stand by Me goes without saying as the premise of this classic movie is transposed right into the narrative of Crossing Souls, the first game by developed Fourattic.
What Crossing Souls does exceedingly well is the emphasis on pop culture references, which you’ll come across in droves as you explore that small town of Tujana, where you’ll find posters of the Ghostbusters films, the Delorean, E.T, and Poltergeist.
Set in California during summer of 1986, you play as a group of friends, brothers Chris and Kevin, Matt, Big Joe, and Charlie. Playing as each of them is a blast during exploration as each teen has their own abilities to utilize to traverse the world. Chris can jump and climb, Matt can hover, Big Joe can move heavy things, and so on. This is a tight-knit group so playing with them as a group is a blast, they’re in this together so what better way to show them enduring these hardships together? The five of them have wildly different personalities and back stories that solidify their friendship, and as you use their abilities to solve puzzles, platforming sections and searching the town for clues – you see how much they care for each other.
The town of Tajunga is a wonderful backdrop for Crossing Souls, thanks to the excellent cast of characters, citizens and spirits encountered. The pixel-art of each house and district pop, giving you a vast amount of detail as you move from area to area. The opening section starts with Chris’ room, and here is a great example of attention to detail – the world feels lived in, something that can be hard to communicate in any game.
From the minute I began my journey with these five friends, I was taken aback by how beautiful the world is, and Fourattic’s attractive cinematics, which harkens back to the heyday of the 80’s appear on screen; I was transported into the past and reminded how simple but lovely animation used to be. Simply put, this is a beautiful game to look at, with a realized world that thanks to the colorful palette used.
Battles involve character-switching. Choosing between the five friends involves the press of a button, Chris swings at enemies with his bat, while Big Joe can tackle stronger enemies. Charlie uses her rope like a whip and provides a wide attack, while Matt can shoot enemies at a distance. Each character has a stamina bar which when depleted, makes them vulnerable, and this is where character switching helps create strategic battles and fun encounters, the biggest takeaway is learning to manage your stamina and dodging incoming attacks.
Everything gets shaken up when they come across an object called the “Duat,” an ancient and powerful object that allows whoever wields it to see into the world of the dead. The group’s first experience with the “Duat” involves coming upon Civil War soldiers, dinosaurs, and cavemen. These colorful characters provide sidequests that are often short but sweet and never overstaying their welcome, rewarding you with items and engaging conversations.
With puzzles requiring the participation of almost everyone in the group, often times you’ll cycle through each character to complete a puzzle. The problem is, there were simply not enough opportunities to utilize the group in fun and exciting ways, more times than not, you can complete a puzzle using only one person, that in mind, puzzles are fun and never over challenging and never overstaying their welcome.
Crossing Souls is a great indie title full of 80’s references, a wonderful synth-pop soundtrack, and good gameplay mechanics. The camaraderie of the five main characters is genuine and fun to experience and the adventure they embark on is surprisingly great.
[A copy of the game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]