Skip to main content

Hearthstone and Inscryption heads should pay attention to Cross Blitz

The Steam Next Fest demo for this deckbuilding RPG has me hooked

A lion character has a reaction to a card in Cross Blitz
Image credit: The Arcade Crew / Gamera Games

You know when the look of a game instantly captures your attention, and then you play a demo for it and it's even better? That's the journey I've been on with deckbuilding RPG Cross Blitz this week. I first heard about it last month back when word hit that it was coming to early access this year, and I was instantly taken with its chunky animal character sprites. There was something a bit Advance Wars about the look and style about its burly lion pirate captain, but just, you know, in a high seas card battle kind of setting instead of dealing with sergeants, tanks and air support. But its Steam Next Fest demo has really sunk its teeth into me this week, offering up turn-based card duels that scratch exactly the same kind of itch as Inscryption did for me a couple of years ago.

Watch on YouTube

In fact, if you didn't get on with Inscryption's meta agenda and just wished it was a purer kind of card battler, then you might end up liking Cross Blitz even more. The demo lets you play the opening chunk of one of its character-driven story modes - the aforementioned lion captain and his quest for fame and glory - but other characters and storylines will be there as well when the game arrives later this year (three to start with, according to its Steam page, out of an eventual total of five), as well as a separate roguelite mode if that's more your bag instead.

The story mode gives the game a rough structure to hang its card battles on, but so far it's very fast moving and you're ferried from one battle to the next in quick succession. It keeps the story moving, is what I'm saying, and cuts straight to the business of letting you enjoy the card battling with minimal fuss and setup.

The card battles themselves are very Inscryption-like, too, but I think Hearthstone is probably also a good comparison point here as well. You have two rows of cards you can play, separated into a close-up melee row and a ranged vanguard at the rear, and most cards attack the column directly in front of them, with clear spaces allowing them to go straight for the player's HP jugular. You also have a limited, but steadily growing, pool of mana with which to play your cards every turn, too, which gives each scrap a pleasing sense of escalation as bigger, more powerful cards start entering the fray.

A card battle board full of pirate-themed cards in Cross Blitz
Image credit: The Arcade Crew / Gamera Games

The cards themselves are good fun, too. I particularly like the cannons that can rain down diagonal balls of death on your opponent. They only activate when there's a pirate minion in play on your side of the board, but they're hardy enough to withstand a couple of hits, giving you a vital defensive option, and when those minions do arrive, they really do pack quite the punch. I'm also a big fan of the big monkey pal who juices fellow cards with extra HP and attack power by shoving a banana down their throat (because man alive, if bananas were that instantly energising in real life, I'd easily make my five a day, no doubt about it).

You can also buy new cards in the Next Fest demo to try out other styles of combat, have a go at its card crafting system, and level up your lion bud to unlock even more cards and new abilities. In the final game, you'll also be able to equip special relics to give your hero extra buffs, so it looks like there will be plenty to dig into come launch.

In short, you should probably download the Cross Blitz demo before Steam Next Fest ends on Monday June 26th if you're interested, as time is rapidly running out to give this a proper go. Cross Blitz currently doesn't have an early access release date, so it could be some time before we get another chance to play it. Download its Steam demo here.

Read this next