Cross Blitz Early Access Review – Deckbuilding with Heart

8/10

Cross Blitz is a very fun card game that gives you two distinct ways to play. While its RPG elements are lacking, and it can be frustrating at times trying to understand what cards your enemy is playing, it makes up for these deficiencies by having a highly customizable deckbuilding system and fun, character-driven stories.

As a huge fan of RPGs, I’m always excited to try out new games in the genre. So naturally I jumped at the chance to check out Tako Boy Studios’ Cross Blitz, which promised RPG elements in a deckbuilder – and I’m very glad I did. While the game is still in early access, so far Cross Blitz is already a solid fantasy adventure with an in-depth card game woven into its fabric.

Story

Cross Blitz’s story takes place on Crossdawn Isle, a land of magic and fantasy creatures (i.e. humanoid talking animals). The game does not have one overarching narrative — instead, it has five separate stories, each one focusing on a different character. At time of writing, you can play through two of these stories. The first one follows Redcroft, a pirate who is searching for an ancient treasure to win back his freedom, while the second focuses on Violet, a famous pop star looking for a way to stop an evil doppelgänger pretending to be her.

The two stories were completely unique: Redcroft and Violet each have their own issues they’re trying to fix, their own companions, and different characteristics that they need to work on throughout their stories. These smaller, character driven stories were quite effective, as it allowed them to focus on the main character and their companions, and gave space for the characters to grow through events that were unique to them.

cross blitz story

A neat feature is that the main character of another story will appear in your chosen story — for example, during Violet’s story, you meet a character named Seto, who appears to be the main character of one of the three stories that will unlock later. Having the characters appear in each other’s stories helps make the narrative and the world in general feel more connected, which I appreciated.

Overall, I liked the character driven stories, but it felt like for both of the character stories I played, there was still more tale to tell. It’s possible that there will be more for them once the full game is released, but as of now, it’s not clear if this will be the case, or if we will be left on cliffhangers.

Despite advertising itself as an RPG deckbuilder, there are very few traditional RPG elements in Cross Blitz’s gameplay. However, there is a deep and highly customizable card system that makes up for it. The specifics on how you can build your deck changes depending on the game mode you’re playing (more on those later), but combat remains the same in either mode.

Gameplay involves battling other characters with your deck of cards. Each player has an amount of HP, and the goal is to deplete your enemy’s HP to 0. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, from directly attacking the player, to making them set off things such as traps or bombs that will damage them.

There are two types of cards you can have in your deck: minions and spells. Minions are placed on the field, and will have a certain amount of attack and health. On top of that, many of them will have an additional effect when a certain condition is met; one card can summon other minions when first placed, another raises their own attack when an allied minion takes damage. Spells, on the other hand, do not get placed on the field (with the exception of traps), but can activate a variety of effects when used, such as damaging the enemy player or transforming a minion.

cross blitz gameplay

Regardless of the card type, every card has a Mana cost. During your turn, you can use as many cards in your hand as you want — as long as you have enough Mana for them. You start with only 1 Mana at the beginning of a match, but gain 1 more Mana at the start of each turn. It’s a classic system, and is used to good effect in Cross Blitz.

Outside of combat, there are various ways you can get new cards for your deck, and enhance your character in general. During the story mode, the primary ways you acquire new cards are purchasing them at the card store, or forging cards with materials you made — the shop will get new cards as you progress in the story, and you will get a new recipe for the forge each time you defeat an enemy. Once you’ve acquired the new cards, you are free to fit them into your deck as you wish.

Additionally, after winning battles in story mode, you will gain XP and can level up your character. This is where the RPG element comes into play: every time you level, you can spend points on a talent tree. The tree has 4 different branches you can go down, and each one will give you cards to support a different playstyle (with 1-2 nodes instead increasing your max health).

cross blitz talents
The last node in a talent tree will give you a powerful Blitz Burst card

I like the idea of choosing a playstyle or two and specializing in it with your talents. However, it really only affects you in the early stages of the story. By the time you hit max level, you’ll have unlocked every single talent on your chosen trees; unless you plan on playing all four playstyles, levels will eventually become meaningless once you’ve gained all the HP nodes.

Weak RPG mechanics aside, I really enjoyed the gameplay in Cross Blitz. The large amount of different cards and playstyles kept things from ever feeling stale, and there were times when the game was surprisingly difficult, forcing me to craft a new deck with a completely different playstyle to get through.

My biggest gripe with the gameplay was its lack of explanation for enemy cards and certain status effects. In the story mode, you only get access to a set amount of cards, and many enemies will use decks with unfamiliar cards, and there’s no way for you to view what these cards are or what they do (outside of observing them in combat). For minion cards, this isn’t a huge deal, as you can just move your cursor over them once they’re on the field to read the descriptions. Spells and traps, however, will only show on the screen for about a second before disappearing for the effect to go off, so if you didn’t read it, you just have to sit and hope you can keep track of what ends up happening.

Additionally, if an enemy card summons another minion or spell, or if the card inflicts a status effect, you have no way to see what the summoned card or status effect does — I went through an entire story without really knowing what Frozen was doing to my minions, outside of making some other Frost cards more effective.

Cross Blitz features two distinct game modes, with a third one on the way in a future update. Fables is the story mode that this review has focused on thus far: you pick one of five characters to go through their story in a three act structure. It should be noted that nothing in one story carries over to the others, meaning that even if you go through Violet’s entire story and then start Redcroft’s for example, you will be back to square one with your levels and cards once you begin.

The other game mode, Tusk Tales, turns the game into a roguelite. Here, you pick one of a number of mercenaries to play as, and will have to go through a randomized region and defeat the boss at the end of it. You start off with around half a deck, and will have to build it with cards you find along the way. In a system familiar to anyone who has played other map-traversal roguelites, there are many different nodes you can land on while you navigate this mode; some are battles, others events where you can make choices to either gain or lose something.

In between runs, you can use currency earned from your run to enhance your mercenary and their starting deck in various ways, or unlock a new mercenary. This will help make subsequent runs easier, so that even if you struggle at first, you’ll eventually clear the initial region and unlock new places to explore.

cross blitz mercenaries
You can recruit a fellow Mercenary in your run to combine their cards with yours

I found this mode to be pretty fun, as it forces you to adapt and make the best out of what you can find, and its randomized nature means that every run will play out differently. This mode is also great to hop into if you want to take a break in the story, or want to continue playing Cross Blitz after you have finished all the characters’ stories.

One great thing about this game is that if you enjoy the gameplay, it can last you many hours. For Fables mode, each story should take around 15-20 hours, while each run in Tusk Tales is about 45 minutes.

However, you can add a lot more time for each mode. For Fables mode, you can try to complete every challenge (called Accolades) for each battle, try to collect all of the cards, or even just try out different decks and playstyles. In Tusk Tales, the roguelite nature of it means you can continuously do runs and get a different experience every time. On top of this, you can test out different mercenaries and explore different areas, giving you potentially countless additional hours.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with Cross Blitz. It has well-made, character driven stories, and fun, deep gameplay that will give you plenty of hours of playtime. If you enjoy card games or want to go on a fun narrative-driven adventure, I would highly recommend this game. However, do not go into this game expecting significant RPG mechanics in either progression or gameplay — or you will likely be disappointed.

As this game is only in early access right now, it has the potential to become even better once we get to see what the other stories are like, and what the mysterious third game mode is.

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KainHighwind27
KainHighwind27

I'm a huge gamer who especially loves the Final Fantasy series. I will play just about any game, especially if it has anything resembling a Dragoon.

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