Double Cross Review: Tripping the R.I.F.T.
Kalvin Martinez / Jan 17th, 2019 No Comments
Do you ever have that feeling that we aren’t alone, that there must be other life out there? What if you had the opportunity not only to confirm other universes and life existed, but you were the one thing keeping the careful balance in check?
Double Cross is a story about an inter-dimensional agency keeping order between different universes and how its agent, Zahra, foils a plot bent on destroying the agency. The game delivers strong platforming action with some nifty mechanics and a fun story. However, it is the investigation system that it employs that makes it stand out.
Something’s Wrong in R.I.F.T.
Agent Zahra is looking to get in on a big case. She’s been handling basic missions for a while — tracking down illegal dimension hoppers — but she wants to do more. She needs a case that she can sink her teeth into and distinguish herself as a top R.I.F.T. agent.
Opportunity sometimes presents itself in the oddest way.
When the R.I.F.T. headquarters comes under attack by an unknown threat, Zahra finds herself with a chance to prove her mettle. By fighting nefarious invaders, she discovers the person behind the attack: the mysterious Suspect X.
Although Suspect X escapes, Zahra’s superiors ask her to start investigating the attacker and his organization. Her search for the truth takes her across dimensions. However, the truth turns out to be more than she bargained for. Her investigation uncovers corruption within R.I.F.T., double agents and a nega-Zahra. How deep this case goes is anyone’s guess.
Double Cross does a fantastic job of mixing the twists and turns of a noir with the lighthearted fun of a Saturday morning cartoon. While the humor is ever present, it never gets in the way of the storytelling. The attack on R.I.F.T. headquarters and Zahra’s resulting investigation has weight to it, even when it sprawls out across multiple worlds and dimensions.
It is important for Double Cross to strike a balance between goofs and seriousness. The narrative has specific reveals that wouldn’t be as impactful without the strong character work that happens through the joke-y dialogue and the sincere presentation of R.I.F.T. as an effective agency and Suspect X as a sincere threat. Hitting that sort of balance is difficult, but Double Cross does an admirable job.
Punch, Sling, Kick
Agent Zahra’s investigation takes her to three different worlds that may be complicit in Suspect X’s attack on R.I.F.T. headquarters. In order for her to build her case and discover Suspect X’s true identity, she will need to find evidence that each world is involved with Suspect X.
Double Cross allows players to chase down leads in whatever order they choose. The lack of linearity opens up a lot of variety when choosing where to start from the nine different levels. Regardless of what order you decide to tackle your investigations, you will encounter combat and platforming challenges.
Zahra is a rising star within R.I.F.T. As such, she has a lot of combat prowess and agility. This means she is well equipped to deal with any problem that crops up. Despite not being able to prove a direct link between the worlds she’s investigating and Suspect X, that doesn’t mean the locals are thrilled to see a R.I.F.T. agent snooping around.
The combat is sparse at the beginning of the game, with players able to use a mix of light and heavy attacks. It opens up as Zahra levels up and gains a wider moveset. Eventually, she is able to perform more powerful moves that give some much-needed depth to combat. However, many combat situations can be won by mashing the different attack buttons and well-timed dodges.
Outside of her melee maneuvers, Zahra can perform a number of special actions with her energy reserves, including healing, energy blasts and shooting a fireball. These maneuvers can be performed sparingly because energy is only gained by defeating enemies. Picking your spots to use these moves is important. Shooting a fireball is an extremely powerful attack, but it uses a ton of energy. Knowing how and when to use these energy moves goes a long way to clearing levels.
Platforming in Double Cross is very similar to 13AM’s previous game, Runbow. There is a precision to jumping, but it isn’t super snappy. It is more about using momentum and timing to clear gaps. What sets Double Cross apart from other platformers, however, is the proton sling mechanic.
Zahra’s proton sling allows her to attach to specific grapple points throughout the environment to launch herself in a specific direction. Many of the levels have specific sling-based challenges, so getting a hang of the mechanic is necessary.
Each world has its own unique properties to contend with in terms of platforming.
In Gootopia, you have various substances of goo that change the nature of levels. For instance, one goo lets you bounce lower or higher depending on the force you hit it with. Another lets you climb walls.
There are a lot of grapple points in The Funderdome, but this area also introduces disappearing platforms and balloons. In Reptarria, you get introduced to grapple points that move in specific directions, orbs that start and stop machinery, magnetic obstacles, and bombs that open up blocked pathways.
These different platforming elements ensure that things never get stale and give each world its own personality.
While the mix of combat and platforming makes for solid gameplay, the coolest part of Double Cross is its investigation system. In each world you visit, you must collect evidence by completing its three levels. Before you can face the boss in each level, you need to present a clear link between them and Suspect X. To figure out how the evidence fits with Suspect X, you’ll need to speak with agents and personnel around R.I.F.T. headquarters.
Once the link has been established, you turn in your findings to the quartermaster, allowing you to tackle the boss of each world. This not only makes for a novel gameplay mechanic, but it also aids the story. While it creates a barrier for you to face down the boss, it adds meaning to the fights because you have a legitimate reason for going after the bosses.
The boss fights in Double Cross are a highlight because they are tough and make excellent use of the combat and platforming mechanics. Each boss fight has multiple parts to it, forcing you to change up your strategy as the boss’ tactics change. These bouts are challenging, and if you’re skills aren’t up to snuff, you’ll find yourself taking a L.
Double Cross is a a lot of fun. It has a gorgeous art style, solid platforming and a fantastic sense of humor. It does an excellent job of striking a balance between its serious investigation and its goofy characters and uses it to craft a strong narrative.
Double Cross was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
tags: 13AM , Double Cross , Double Cross Review , Graffiti Games , review