Crossing Souls E3 Preview: Miamibound
Kalvin Martinez / Jun 30th, 2015 No Comments
Do you ever long for those summers when you and your friends hung out all day and night? When you got into adventures and trouble? Crossing Souls aims to recapture the feeling of those wild and summer moments spent with your closest buddies.
All of its nostalgia-inducing imagery is filtered through a love of all things 80’s. From the aesthetic to blatant movie references, Crossing Souls transports you to a decade where a child could befriend an alien and escape the government on a Huffy, or a gang of kids could find buried treasure.
Spanish developer Fourattic has only been in active development on Crossing Souls for a few months. Following the close of the game’s successful Kickstarter back in December 2014, the three man dev team started working on the game at the top of the year. The demo shown at E3 was done concurrent with the game’s active development since February. Fourattic’s short lead time made the E3 demo all the more impressive.
A World of Dead and Living
The year is 1986, and five friends are ready for a hell of a summer in California. The summer takes a turn after an innocent jaunt into the woods leads them to find an artifact of mysterious origin and great power. While the kids don’t quite understand what they’ve found, they soon learn what the artifact has in store for them.
This artifact is the Duat Stone, which has the ability to break down the barrier between the world of living and dead. It is the Duat Stone that gets this group of five friends deep into a government conspiracy and the target of a sinister U.S. Army general. This series of events leads to the death of one of the friends. To navigate the extraordinary circumstances, the five friends will have to use the Duat Stone to explore both the world of living and dead to save themselves.
Crossing Souls is steeped in the 80’s vibe Fourattic themselves seemed obsessed with. Everything in the demo had a specific 80’s bent to it from the character models and their clothing to the look of the Californian town they lived in. The local movie theater is covered in posters referencing and parodying popular films of the decade. Even the cut scenes are done in the style of old 80’s cartoons like He-Man, Voltron, and Thunder Cats. The use of vibrant colors works to bring all of these elements together. Plus, the writing in the demo had the spirit and fun of all these influences Fourattic revels in.
Jam on the Pedals
Every facet of Crossing Souls bleeds with a retro energy. Not just only are the story and the look are a throwback, but so is the down-and-dirty action-adventure gameplay. It’s similar to The Legend of Zelda with an eye for the pixel art look of an older era. Action is done with a simple press of a button but the need to dodge and weave to avoid death keeps it lively. The five characters you can switch between at any time (the fifth being your dead friend and requires switching to the dead world to use) have their own unique weapons and abilities.
These character-specific abilities will factor into the puzzle solving. A simple expression of this is Big Joe’s bulk making him able to move heavy boxes. In the demo, you had to move several large boxes in order to continue to your final objective. Chris, the blue-haired, bat-wielding protagonist is much faster and agile with the ability to climb obstacles. All of the specific character quirks should add a deal of depth to the action, exploration, and puzzle solving in Crossing Souls.
The final section in the demo was a departure from the action-adventure style of the main demo. It involved Chris jamming on a bicycle running away from cop cars on a dirt path full of obstacles. The path was littered with road blocks that, depending on their density, would mean the end for him. The section moved at a rapid pace where a simple mistake meant the end.
Even with the demo prompting you where the safe spots were, the matter of executing these maneuvers was easier said than done. It involved the two of us playing the demo to curse in frustration, passing around the controller trying to best it. Inch by inch, we learned more of the path and how to beat it. When we finally bested it, a sense of relief and satisfaction washed over the room as we overcame the challenge. It was a decidedly old school sense of accomplishment.
This bike section looked more like Excitebike than anything prior with clear allusions to E.T. It’s yet another example of the clever convergence of what Fourattic aims to do with Crossing Souls.
A Long Hot Summer
While still early in the development process, Crossing Souls’ demo gave a solid idea of what the final product will feel and be like from its aesthetic, gameplay, and narrative. There were some issues with the demo but, given its short lead time, they were expected and should be hammered out before the final product ships.
Its soundtrack and style give it a feel of Hotline Miami mixed with Earthbound due to its writing style and young protagonists. Crossing Souls was one of the many entertaining offerings at Devolver Digital’s E3 indie space. Our time with the demo proved there was still a ways to go with development but the game is on the right path. It’s one to keep high on your radar when it releases in 2016.
tags: Crossing Souls , Devolver Digital , Fourattic , pc , preview , ps4