Not too long ago I got the opportunity to preview Double Cross by 13AM Games (the creators of Runbow) on Steam. In the preview I was able to play through the first three worlds of the game, but I couldn’t really go into much detail beyond that, including bosses. However, not too longer after finishing up the preview I received the opportunity to check out the full game…on the Nintendo Switch. Personally I’m okay with that as if the game is fun enough, I don’t mind having it twice. Plus this gives me the chance to experience it on a different system to see if there are any functional differences between the two. That being said, let’s go ahead and check out Double Cross on the Nintendo Switch.
The story follows Zahra Sinclair, an agent of RIFT (Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology) whose job is to help maintain peace and order between all dimensions. However, someone ends up infiltrating RIFT headquarters and you soon learn that it’s an inside job. As you make your way through RIFT HQ you end up running into a cloaked figure with a smiling mask who gets dubbed Suspect X. Zahra’s mission is to figure out who Suspect X is and why he wants to destroy RIFT. Prior to the invasion of RIFT HQ you’ll go through a training session where you’ll learn how to control Zahra and her Proton Slinger. The Proton Slinger allows Zahra to fire out a proton beam which kind of acts like a grappling hook of sorts. You can use this to latch onto certain spheres you’ll see scattered throughout the stage and basically sling yourself through each area. You can also grab certain projectiles and fire them back at enemies in a couple of stages. When you use the Proton Slinger time will slow down a bit, giving you ample time to properly aim your shot.
Zahra can attack enemies with light and heavy attacks at the start of the game and as she progresses she has the chance to unlock more moves and abilities. She can also dodge attacks by performing a rolling dodge maneuver, but this is something that requires tight timing in some areas. The roll doesn’t last long and if you start it too soon or too late, you run the risk of slamming into what you planned to dodge. You also have a segmented yellow meter below your health bar that will fill up as you defeat enemies and collect the little yellow orbs they drop. You can use this meter to do a couple of things at the cost of a certain number of bars. You can heal yourself a bit for one bar, unleash a burst of energy where you’re standing for two, or throw a fireball for three. The healing and fireball are the two more useful abilities and you’ll use them quite a bit, but with the combat the way it is (which I’ll explain in a moment), the fireball is more useful for bosses than normal enemies.
At the start of the game you can choose from any of the three worlds available in any order, and each one has three stages you can tackle in any order as well. The worlds all have their own mechanics that you have to learn how to deal with to finish the stage such as conveyor belts, magnets, different colored goo, and so on. There is a fourth stage that ends in a boss fight, but you won’t unlock the boss stage just by clearing the other three. The main plot of the game is to figure out who Suspect X is and why they infiltrated RIFT to begin with. This is done through an investigation system of sorts that has you talking with everyone at RIFT HQ and showing some of them certain items you get during the stages you play through. This is an interesting concept…until you realize that its only real purpose is to move the plot along. Within the plot you’re supposed to find enough items to build a case against whoever the boss of that planet is, then you can build your case and unlock the boss stage for that planet. Again though, this is just a matter of talking to people at RIFT HQ and showing certain people a certain item now and then. There’s no penalty whatsoever for showing someone the wrong item or trying to submit your case before having all of the evidence you need. In fact, you don’t even get the option to submit your case UNTIL you have all of the evidence you need, so while I like this aspect of the game, it’s more or less a minor roadblock than anything else.
Each stage has several purple crystals lying around called Upgradium. These are usually hidden away somewhere out of the way but any Upgradium you collect during a stage will be added to Zahra’s overall total at the end of the stage and after a certain number of shards is collected, Zahra will level up and unlock some new abilities including occasionally new attacks and passive abilities. Some of the abilities are permanent which include learning new attacks and increasing your base health. Others are equippable and include things such as giving you a temporary shield that can absorb a single attack, shortening the amount of time it takes to use the Heal ability, giving you more time to aim the Proton Slinger, and so on. You can have up to three of these abilities equipped at any time giving you a bit of customization to Zahra depending on your playstyle, but at the same time the abilities are unlocked in a linear fashion when you level up. My first time through the game I missed a lot of Upgradium shards and as such I still had five equippable abilities still locked.
As much as I did enjoy Double Cross, I did have some issues with it and the biggest one is that the game just feels too easy. I did have a few spots in the Steam preview version that I got hung up on and when playing the Switch version for this review, the only real place I still got stuck on was the third stage of Gootopia where there are a few sections that has you running from a giant wall of green goo that’s instant death if it touches you (failing some obstacles just put you back at the start of that obstacle with a little less health unless you ran out of health entirely). This is the only area that tripped me up a lot, including the final stage. You could say that beyond playing the preview, I probably had some abilities equipped to help me. I did, but they didn’t really help me all that much so to speak. The difficulty is easy to the point that I could probably easy my way through most of the game without any upgrades whatsoever. Even the bosses weren’t that difficult save for one that really requires some timing when dodging their attacks. There is also a “Fun” option in the options menu but after trying a few, I honestly have no clue as to what this option does as I saw no real differences in gameplay, difficulty or otherwise.
There is one other thing to mention and it’s something I can’t really forgive. I mentioned in the preview that there were a couple of minor glitches I found and while I didn’t encounter those in the final game, I did encounter a major bug. Back in Gootopia stage 3 with the walls of green goo, the final chase sequence has you escaping on a lift that will basically catapult you out of the lab and it ends the stage. The first time I did that the goo actually caught up with me at the top of the lift ride and trapped me in the goo while still on the lift. This is basically a cut scene at this point as once you activate the lift, you have no control until the results screen. I could move around a bit but I eventually got flung back down where I just came from, but the camera remained at the top of the lift. In other words, I couldn’t finish the stage. There’s also no “restart from last checkpoint” option on the pause menu meaning that I had to choose “Return to RIFT” and restart the stage from scratch, losing any progress and Upgradium I had collected. I wasn’t able to replicate this bug which is kind of bad because that means unless it gets patched, there’s no telling what exactly has to be done to trigger it, meaning it could just happen when you’re not expecting it to.
Double Cross is enjoyable, but at times it just feels too easy. The stages themselves aren’t really all that difficult, the combat can get monotonous as you can three or four hit combo just about everything, the bosses are almost a non-issue (the final boss I just basically attacked non-stop and only dodged their attacks once or twice without issue), and the investigation portions of the game at RIFT HQ basically serve as a quick break between stages and only serve to advance the plot with no bearing on the rest of the game. If you like platformers, Double Cross is a fun game, but there’s not much replayability. The ability customization mostly makes things even easier than before as most of the time I could take out an enemy by hitting them with two light punches, then a slide kick that gets unlocked after leveling up once or twice. For as easy and as short as the game is, twenty dollars feels a bit too much. However, the game is still a fairly solid platformer, one or two bugs and glitches aside, and the story, music, and animation are all pretty good. If you’re still on the fence about it, you might want to wait for this one to go on sale.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.