When it comes to crowdfunded indie games, patience is a virtue that is often well rewarded. Kickstarted back in 2014, we've had our beady eyes on Crossing Souls for a long time, and it looks just as tempting now as it did then.
After a lengthy development cycle, the game launches next week on February 13th, but to ease potentially skeptical players into its quirky world of movie-inspired 80s nostalgia, developers Fourattic have released a generously portioned demo to both Steam and GOG.
The Crossing Souls demo wastes no time in dispelling any notions that this is meant to be a convincing depiction of the real world. This is the 80s as according to Back to The Future by way of Earthbound, where every other house in the suburbs contains some larger-than-life character, and improbable, potentially world-ending super-science is just a way of life for some.
This is a world of adventure, where the woods are overrun by giant rats and spiders the size of small dogs, and where it's not unusual for a small child to own a jetpack and/or a laser gun. You play as five kids (most of the demo is spent assembling your party and learning their abilities, before gaining the option to switch characters at will) who stumble upon a magical artifact which, unsurprisingly, is also being sought after by a mustache-twirling villain and his cadre of lackeys.
If there's one thing to nitpick about the demo (other than it leaving off on a huge teaser cliffhanger), it's that the script has that 'fluent, but still a second-language' feel to it that I last saw back in Iconoclasts. Understandable, as Fourattic are a small Spanish studio, but it does blunt the 80s tween adventure vibe of the game a little. There's also perhaps just a little too much dialogue between the protagonists early on, although as the game is attempting to establish their characters at this point, it's a forgivable sin.
Even though the demo cuts off just as the tutorial/introduction segment ends, you should give it a spin for yourself. It feels nice and solid, and the combat, while simple, has a satisfying rhythm to it. The sprites are lovely, and while I feel the hand-drawn cutscenes could do with a few extra frames of animation, they're a pleasing change of pace nonetheless. I must admit, it's left me hungry for more, and I'm eager to try the final game soon.