Double Cross Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: 13AM Games

Publisher: Headup Games

Release Date: 10th January 2019

Price as of Article: $19.99 USD, £17.99 GBP

Game code provided by Headup Games for review

Story

In Double Cross, you play as Zahra Sinclair, an agent of the multiverse peacekeeping force known as R.I.F.T. – think Men In Black. The premise here is that there’s a vast number of parallel universes, some of which are very similar to our own with only slight changes, while history has taken a very different course in others. 

What I love about the story is its interactivity. As Zahra, you are given missions and are able to explore different universes in any order to find clues. Once you have enough clues, you can take them up to your leader and present your case. By having the freedom to explore in your preferred order, the story feels fluid.

Early o,n R.I.F.T. headquarters are attacked and an evil plot unfurls, one which you need to solve in order to save every possible universe. It becomes clear that this is an inside job and that everything is not as it seems, leading to a mysterious and entertaining ‘whodunit‘ that rewards your interaction and has you paying attention to the whimsical cast.

The story feels very much like an interactive novel without being overly onerous. The cast is rather bonkers, as you might hope for in a world that spans many universes – for example, your gym trainer is a seriously pumped Brussels sprout and the fabled leading agent ‘Pineapple’ is literally a pineapple.

double cross Nintendo Switch

Gameplay

If Megaman pops into your mind when looking at the gameplay, then you would be on the right track. It was a big influence on this game’s development and, like Megaman, this is an action-adventure platformer. There are shades of Sonic in the level design, as well – the better you are doing in the level, the higher you tend to be on the screen and the action leans towards pace and timing through many portions.

Slow it down

Zahra has a handy Proton Slinger that is critical to your success. You use it by holding ZR which slows down time and lets you aim, and then releasing it in order to fling out, grab onto objects and swing on them. The angle in which you approach the item determines the trajectory out, which you can see from an arrow that indicates the direction of travel. This makes for a fun and unique form of travel and it feels great to slow down time and jump from point to point. You also use the Proton Slinger to catch objects and throw them at enemies or to get through tricky sections – for example, you can catch an enemy’s bomb and throw it to kill an unreachable enemy.

Crazy universes

The game is divided into universes, each with a number of stages within. There are three universes to explore and each has a unique design and feel that influences the mechanics. You have the goo world of Gootopia, the neon robot world of The Funderdome, and the apocalyptic dinosaur world of Reptarria to explore. 

The levels of Gootopia feature different types of goo that affect you and need to be used in creative ways to progress. At first, you need to jump quickly whilst stuck to escape the goo, but different types are introduced later on which produce different results. For example: the blue goo is bouncy. I loved that how high you bounce is based on how high you were when you jumped onto it. It sounds like a minor detail, but it is used to create all sorts of tricky situations where you need to figure out how to progress – especially when combined with the red sticky goo that lets you climb up walls and even hang from ceilings. 

double-cross switch review

The Funderdome features the levels that remind me the most of Sonic. They are fast-paced and use vertical space the most – you need to use your Proton Slinger extensively here to jump from section to section and time jumps onto neon billboards.

Reptarria is a wasteland universe where the dinosaurs didn’t die, but instead evolved and now run the Earth. The levels here use slings to propel you forward and backwards as well as having scrolling levels in which you need to keep moving quickly or suffer death. 

Each level is well thought out and there is an impressive amount of variation. No two levels feel the same and this is what makes the gameplay so enjoyable. It would have been great to have a couple more universes to explore but the ones on offer are jam-packed with unique elements. The game’s bosses, in particular, are a blast. These are big and flashy but not too difficult – I certainly found some levels more difficult than the bosses themselves, which follow predictable and repeatable patterns.

Detective work

In between levels, you often need to talk to the residents of R.I.F.T. in order to learn more about the objects and events you have seen on your travels. This part of the game is not as strong as the adventuring but it is a nice addition that breaks up the core gameplay without being annoying. The downside is that you can solve the cases through trial and error, I think they could have taken the concept slightly further. Nevertheless, it does give you that immersive feel.

Bust a move and level up

You have a light and heavy attack from the get-go and killing enemies will drop energy which fills segments of your energy meter. The combat feels fluid and you combine these two attacks to produce combo style attacks on your foes. When you have charged your energy, you can use powerful skills such as a heal, a fireball, and a big blast – you don’t get to use these skills all the time so they feel well balanced, supporting a solid combat system.

I feel that nearly every game benefits from some form of permanent character progression and here we have it in the form of skills which you unlock as you level up. You have two types of skills – passive, permanent effects and equipable skills. For example, you can unlock additional attacks permanently and my personal favourite is a shield that absorbs the first attack against you before recharging. The skills system is a welcome addition; it is not too deep but it gives you enough flexibility to make a difference, which is just right for this type of game.

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Audio

double cross reviewThe music in Double Cross is fine-tuned to match its setting. The villains have sinister theme songs when they appear and each of the universes explored has a very distinctive feel – my personal favourites are the upbeat robotic tracks of the Funderdome. One of the stages has you competing across a series of arcade mini-games to get a high score and the track here is excellent and even has a retro arcade style to it. I also found the sound effects to be of a high standard – the sound of healing, for example, is like a beam scanner – and all of these details combine to produce very solid audio.

Visuals & Performance

In early 2018, the developer released a trailer of the game. It had some positive feedback but people commented on the poor graphics. Originally slated to be released in 2018, the developer took the feedback to heart and pushed back the release in order to completely overhaul the graphics. The improved visuals draw upon anime and western comic influences and it’s fair to say the difference is huge. It’s brilliant to see a developer take this feedback and respond in such a positive way.

Each of the 3 universes feels unique and their personalities shine through in the level design. The small touches are nice. We have excellent background and foreground details adding depth perception, and the bright colours and character designs are pleasing to the eye. One slight gripe on the visuals is the slightly unnatural movement design. I can’t quite put my finger on the exact issue but when Zahra runs, it doesn’t quite look right.

Performance-wise, there were a few moments of slowdown. These were minor and infrequent, so they did not cause any major issues and the developer has been in touch to confirm a day-one patch on the Nintendo Switch which should fix these slight dips. This is the kind of game that is best enjoyed on a TV but is still fun on the move, the smaller Joy-Cons are responsive enough and the performance doesn’t suffer.

double cross gameplay

Value

The game is $19.99 USD or £17.99 GBP, but has a 25% off sale up until the 17th of January, making it particularly attractive. The game is enjoyable from start to end and there are multiple endings, depending on your performance. Each stage also has a number of pieces of Vibranium hidden in it to be discovered. At roughly 10 hours, itt’s not the longest game, but uncovering all the secrets will take you up to 15 hours of enjoyment.

Pros

P

Fun and engaging

P

An interesting story 

P

Challenging but achievable

Cons

P

Could be longer

P

Some minor performance and visuals gripes