Some of the best science fiction around involves multiple dimensions. From the simple “what if?” tales of Sliders and Quantum Leap to the complicated sagas of the X-Men comics, it’s an incredibly liberating story device. You can do pretty much anything you can imagine, as long as you work out the internal logic. Double Cross is unlike many of those dimensional storylines. You’re Zahra, a multidimensional cop trying to protect the timestream. Your first perp? A giant green blob with a polite demeanor named V”!!K}~X. Not every character is as out there as this fellow, but it’s a welcome inclusion in this promising action platformer.
Double Cross Preview – Genesis
Double Cross sells itself on its Mega Man-esque gameplay. It’s got sets of levels you can play in any order, each hosting a range of platforming and combat challenges. Zahra doesn’t have any projectiles on demand, but she packs a mean punch and a generous divekick. You do have a devastating fireball to launch, but you have to defeat enemies and charge a meter before each throw. That meter also governs how much healing you can get in, so there’s a bit of balance that 2D action veterans will appreciate.
Zahra’s most unique tool is the Proton Slinger, an energy grappling hook that can fling her across environments. Many of the puzzles involve large stretches of flinging yourself over chasms in one solid movement. This feels solid, and the developers do a lot to keep you on your toes as you go from point to point. You can also triangle jump just like Meat Boy, and there are plenty of obstacles that get in the way. Each world has a completely different set of mechanics and enemies, so the gameplay has plenty of variety especially if you’re jumping between worlds between levels.
Double Cross Preview – Glitter Rock
Thankfully, you will have plenty of opportunities to show off all your moves. There are combat arenas every few rooms that challenge you to test your strength against a horde of foes. Movement is key, as your best bet for survival is to jump in, land a punch or two, and then keep moving. You’ll want to use the Proton Slinger to bounce between platforms, and you’ll also be able to pick projectiles out of the air and hurl them back. Combat-wise, everything in and out of the arenas feels smooth and tight.
Each world feels impressively different in the visual department. From the neon cityscapes of “The Funderdome” (it’s that kind of game) to the oppressive factory of a world ruled by dinosaurs, everything feels very self-contained. In fact, the only thing holding these worlds together is Double Cross‘ visual style. Despite the vast difference in designs, everything is inspired by a combination of Flash and anime. While it does feel like these are drawings jumping off the screen, some of the characters and enemies also begin to blend together over a long session.
Double Cross Preview – Double Identity
However, you’ll want to keep paying attention, because Double Cross isn’t just about running and jumping. You’ll also be putting your detective skills to the test. The home base of the RIFT organization has a full staff, each with their own unique strength. You’ll need to bring clues back from missions and hand them to the right people in order to deduce what they’re hiding and get closer to solving each world’s storyline.
Conversations, both in the home hub and out in the levels, have a great sense of humor. 13AM Games really takes advantage of the multidimensional premise here with clever lines that key you into each character’s homeworld. Even without the jokes, the situations are novel enough on their own. After all, in what other game do you need to rescue a sentient pineapple from a band of partying robots? It can get a bit muddled considering that the game encourages you to jump back and forth between worlds, but each story is distinct enough to stick in your memory for when you come back.
Double Cross Preview – Play It Again, Seymour
I would like to see the game encourage me to jump around. That’s not the case as of now, at least in the first couple of levels I played. The upgrade tree seems completely divorced from level progression, meaning that you can jump around, but there’s no real reason to. According to the difficulty settings on the menu, the later levels in each world are tougher so that might be one reason, but that’s an artificial barrier rather than one that fits with the story being told.
Even if you stick to a linear path, Double Cross drives home that forward momentum. Each room is a distinct challenge that builds on what came before in the level. It feels great to tackle a later section with relative ease. There are no lives to worry about, you just warp back to where you died thanks to multiverse theory. In that way, the game encourages experimentation and awards hunting down collectibles. Each level also seems pretty replayable thanks to well-hidden upgrade crystals and challenging grappling hook setups that you could spend some serious time with.
Overall, I’m looking forward to spending more time with Double Cross. It strikes a great balance between light detective work and hardcore platforming. The art style isn’t going to win over everyone, especially when you put it against the stylish work these developers did on Runbow. Still, the gameplay loop and varied world should hopefully make up for everything. We’ll know for sure this January when the game comes out on PC and the Nintendo Switch.
Double Cross was previewed on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.