With its recent launch on Steam and the Switch, 13AM Games’ Double Cross is quite the genre blend – a combination of platformer and adventure game with a multiverse narrative. And some crime-solving thrown in for good measure.
Double Cross puts you in the role of Zahra, agent of the Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology(or RIFT). You swoop and grapple through multiple worlds as you follow the trail of the mysterious Suspect X, the alleged titular double crosser of RIFT, and uncover an inter-dimensional conspiracy.
Swing Between Genres
While Double Cross is an action platformer not unlike like Celeste and Guacamelee, the platforming is decidedly Mega Man-like, something the creators enthusiastically promote. The game’s overall style is reminiscent of early 2000s indies and the older Flash platformers that were around at that time. The 2D HD art style is crisp and vibrant, with alien designs that burst with personality.
There’s a good mix of genres, being equal parts action platformer and adventure game. The platforming elements play way better than the combat, which consists of mostly running up to enemies and punching them repeatedly. Traversal is much more rewarding, often giving you multiple ways to handle crossing a level, though some areas leave you wanting more. As a platformer Double Cross could use more elevation, in both a literal and metaphorical sense. It’s a short game, but you still get that lingering feeling that could’ve pushed the level design just a bit further.
The multiverse set up is a creative way to introduce you to different sets of challenging environments. There are three worlds you can explore, each with their own unique ecosystems.
For example, the first world you visit is a goo-riddled swamp. This area’s specific feature is that the puddles and floating orbs of goo will slowly absorb you if you stand still too long, but give you enough resistance to jump off to greater heights. Other worlds include a deserty, construction-themed wasteland, where you use heavy machinery to clamber around, and a high-tech neon futurescape.
Expect the Expected
The main gameplay is fairly simple and nothing you haven’t seen before. It hinges on the swinging mechanic that gives you a diverse way to move through worlds. Using the trusty Proton Slinger you’re armed with at the start, you can swing from hooks as well as grab and throw objects like enemy projectiles. As an investigator you’ll also find clues dotted through each universe. You can show these to your fellow RIFT agents, who help you progress to the next area.
To level up you collect purple crystals(called upgradium, of course) that let you unlock new special abilities like healing, shockwaves and blasts. Combat racks up power points which, when you accumulate enough of them to fill up your energy bar, lets you use your special abilities. Your powers deplete the bar faster that you might think though, so you need to continually keep an eye on it.
While it’s not a total walk in the park, Double Cross is not the most challenging game. There are no penalties for death, Zahra simply starts back at the beginning with all her upgrades still in tact. Which is understandable, considering the game’s clearly going for a younger audience, but if you relish obscene difficulty this probably won’t be for you.
One thing Double Cross absolutely nails is tone. The story is pure Saturday morning cartoon goodness, with intrepid heroes, super-bad baddies and the fate of the multiverse in your hands. The dialogue just toes the line of “cheesy on purpose”. There’ll be times it surprises you with how well written it is and other times that will have you cringing.
- Drastically different level challenges
- Varied special abilities
- Fantastic art style
- Entertaining story
- Repetitive combat
- Unambitious mechanics
If you’re a seasoned fan of platformers in general Double Cross‘ gameplay may feel a bit simplistic. Challenges presented by level layouts and enemies alike aren’t quite as nuanced as they could be, but that doesn’t keep the game from being fun to play and a well thought out mesh of genres. The accessible gameplay and flavour make this a great game for kids or anyone who likes platform adventure on a more casual level.