Game Tech: Stranger things have happened

Ronan Jennings

Five children accidentally discover an inter-dimensional portal? Stranger things have happened. More importantly, Stranger Things has happened.

Crossing Souls may not be a Stranger Things game, but it probably should have been. Like a survey addict, it ticks all the boxes. Set in the 1980s? Check. A group of rag-tag friends who curse and charm? Check.

An inter-dimensional portal developed by mysterious authority! Check.

The question for the developers, then, is whether all those checks will lead to cheques. Is Crossing Souls worth your cash?

Crossing Souls: The 1980s setting and charm elevates the game greatly.

The short answer is absolutely. This is an independent, low-budget game but one that earns every penny of its €20 price tag.

Like its subject matter, Crossing Souls is a retro-style game in the vein of Zombies Ate My Neighbours or even Earthbound, but the setting and the attention to detail make it something of a rarity in today’s market.

We don’t see many action games set in suburbia, never mind ‘birdseye’ action adventures like this one. If you’re the kind of person who enjoyed the 80s references in Stranger Things and, more recently, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One, then you’ll get a kick out of Crossing Souls.

The very first scene shows one of the main characters, Chris, wake up in his bedroom surrounded by posters of the Turtles and with an original Nintendo console on the ground.

From there, Chris recruits four of his friends by travelling across town, from arcades to treehouses, with every step of the journey feeling like a tribute to the 80s, driven by a pulsing synthwave soundtrack.

Once all five of the group are recruited, the story begins in earnest, with the gang discovering a mysterious element that allows them to shift between dimensions.

Crossing Souls is a beat-em-up at heart, but set in a beautifully detailed suburban landscape that will remind older gamers of a Lucasarts adventure.

Each of the children has different abilities for combat and you can switch between them on the fly. Chris wields a baseball bat, Charlie has a whip, Big Joe is the heavy hitter.

While Crossing Souls never gets too complicated in your need to switch between the different kids, it’s nice to have different playstyles based on your favourite character.

Because this is a lower-budget adventure, you should only expect to spend around 5-10 hours in the world(s) of Crossing Souls.

Nothing about the combat or the story is particularly impressive in its own right, but the 80s setting and charm elevates the game greatly. If you’re in the mood for a Super Nintendo-style action adventure game with modern touches, then you might just love Crossing Souls. Stranger things have happened.

SUPER SMASH

There’s nothing strange about Nintendo announcing Super Smash Bros for the Switch. Smash Bros is one of the Japanese giant’s most popular game.

While the Big N didn’t give us any major details on the Switch release of Super Smash Bros, the series is now officially coming to the Switch and long-time producer Masahiro Sakurai has confirmed his involvement on Twitter.

Half of the fun with a new Smash Bros is guessing what characters will show up.

Nintendo has been surprisingly open to cameos from other companies. Even Sonic is a playable character.

The announcement was made on a Nintendo Direct video, along with details on a Captain Toad game, Mario Tennis Aces and a July 13 release date for the exciting RPG Octopath Traveller.

VALVE OPENS

Finally, in confirmation that stranger things can truly happen, PC giant Valve have announced they are back creating games again.

Valve, who developed some of the most beloved PC games of all time in Half-live and DOTA, haven’t been directly involved in games development for some time.

Instead, they were too busy making billions by running Steam, the PC market’s number one digital download market.

However, the company have announced Artifact, a card game based on DOTA, along with the following statement from co-founder Gabe Newell:

This is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that’s sort of good news. Hooray! Valve’s going to start shipping games again.”


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