Picture this. You’re an undercover cop working to take down the local mob boss. After years of hard work, you find out that your police captain is as crooked as a politician and he sets you up to take a fall. With your partner dead, and you at blame, you now find yourself behind bars and awaiting the electric chair.
What is a good cop to do? Bust out, and get a little sweet vengeance, of course. That is the name of the game in CorssSide: The Prison. However, all well laid plans have a tendency of going sideways, and we never really know what awaits us on the outside. At least, that is what the developers at ARVI VR would like you to think as you solve your way to freedom.
Setup and Sent Up
CrossSide: The Prison is a fairly straightforward escape room experience. It is set in a 1940’s prison that has seen better days but makes for an interesting, and more believable, backdrop. The game features four chapters that take around 15 to 20 minutes to solve but can go a little longer if you like to explore.
You will not see much in the way of deep story telling or action here. In fact, the only guards you come across are a roving security team that patrols the mess hall. If they spot you, they kill you, simple as that. All of the games story is delivered at the beginning and end of each chapter, with nothing being uncovered during gameplay.
This might sound like a bit of a letdown, but it does free your mind up to focus on the task at hand. CorssSide does manage to refocus all of your attention towards the rich environments they have created. More importantly, they give you some pretty satisfying escapes for the price.
If you have ever played an escape the room style game, you will not be surprised by the gameplay in CrossSide. It holds true the genre by putting your mind to work, rather than your reflexes. The majority of your time is spent examining an obstacle then looking for a way to overcome it, which often has you backtracking and digging through the environment. Attention to detail is key.
The challenges themselves are not overly complex and do a great job of blending into the environment. Busting through walls, finding keys, and sneaking past guards are all things I would expect in this setting, and CrossSide delivers. Some of the more far-fetched things that take place, are explained away by our character having some outside help on his journey to freedom.
One of the more memorable challenges of this game is the section that involves sneaking past guards. It was at a point in the game where I started to feel a little board, simply because you do not have any real pressure during the challenges. Having guards wandering around, forcing me to duck and hide was a great addition to the mix. If this game could capture that feeling throughout, it would be far more enjoyable and challenging.
Getting Your Hands Dirty
CrossSide has a few different movement options. You can teleport, blink forward, or pull yourself in a direction by holding a key down and pulling the controller back. All three movement options can be used during gameplay and work well enough. The pulling method made looking around smaller areas far less painful than trying to teleport. It feels like using surrounding objects to roll your office chair around a room.
The rest controls are fairly standard but do feel a little clunky at times. You can grip and move objects that are targeted by pointing at them. The same goes for climbing, except you do the moving rather than the object. If an item needs to be used, like a key for instance, you just put it where it would naturally go and release it. Other items can be used by hitting a button while holding them. The best example of this is your trusty lighter, which comes in handy more than once.
I ran into a few issues with items flipping around in my hands randomly. This is a byproduct of the games room scale and collision detection. When you reach an area that you would need to duck to get through, you have to duck down, and I love that. The game detects your height and makes you adjust it. Unfortunately, it does something strange when it comes to your hands. When they hit a wall, or an item in them does, they flip all over the place.
A Dark and Dreary Cell
Graphically, CorssSide gives us a dark and ominous looking environment that really sets the mood of the game. The theme is continued throughout, with the only real deviation coming from the games tutorial. Fortunately, that too looks amazing. The quality lighting of this game really goes a long way in maintaining the sneaky feeling of breaking out of prison and your trusty lighter is a beautiful workaround.
The audio is on par with the graphics. CorssSide has a nice balance of atmosphere and player sounds, but I would have liked our noise levels come into play. You can pretty much be a loud as you like, without repercussion. We also get a little voice acting. The intro and outro of each chapter is verbally delivered to us; however, the actors accent does make it sound a little out of place. It’s more distracting than entertaining.
So, I have escaped my confines and managed to do so in about 55 minutes. Your time is clocked and displayed for each chapter, on the level select screen. A nice feature that might have you replaying some chapters. CrossSide is definitely an escape room game that holds true to the genre and doesn’t deviate from the formula.
For some, that might be a good thing, others a bad. But, for $12.99, it does manage to give you a solid 4 chapters of escape room gameplay. I would have enjoyed a little more guard action to drive me forward. Possibly some game mechanics that required me to watch my noise levels as well. I am, strangely enough, okay with the lack of story and action for the most part though.
This game excels in its ability to set the environment through good visual and sound design. By working all of their puzzles into that environment, they managed to make an enjoyable, if not a little too relaxed, escape room experience in a great setting.