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March 2024

Cross Blitz

Platform(s): PC
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Developer: Tako Boy Studios
Release Date: 2025


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PC Preview - 'Cross Blitz'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Nov. 30, 2023 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Cross Blitz is a hybrid of RPG-style adventuring and deckbuilding that follows the grand journeys of a charming cast of heroes.

Cross Blitz is set in a fanciful world of pirates, where the Seven Seas are roamed by all sorts of creatures, including zombies, lion men, kung-fu lizard people, and a peppy pop princess with the power to command the forces of darkness. Every pirate in this fanciful world has their own reason for venturing out onto the seas, and you can join them for the adventure — assuming you don't mind joining them via the medium of a collectible card game.

Cross Blitz uses the now-familiar Hearthstone style of CCG design. You and the opposing side have a deck of cards and place your card on the map to battle one another. Each card has a mana cost, with both players starting with one mana and gaining one per turn. (Whoever goes second gets a free, one-time-use bonus mana to make up for that.) You have four lanes of two rows, meaning you can deploy up to eight units at any one time. The goal is to deal direct damage to your opponent's hero character and drain all their life points before they do the same to you.

Cross Blitz is pretty good about offering a wide variety of different play styles. The game's Fables mode, which serves as a combination story mode and tutorial, is designed to gradually introduce players to the available play styles. Violet the pop-star pirate can focus on deploying a lot of low-cost "groupie" units, focus on powerful song-based magic spells, use her Draconic magical heritage to deploy undead troops who thrive on dying to power up or enact effects, or use a discard-heavy deck that allows her to gain special abilities by dropping cards.

The various play styles all play into the Blitz Burst mechanic. By adding a Blitz Burst card to your deck, you unlock the ability for that character to perform a Blitz Burst. Burst cards are not actually in your deck but are attached to your chosen captain. Each Blitz Burst has a condition that you must meet to power it up, and it's tied to one of the available play styles. The groupie style wants you to play 10 groupie minions. Once you do, you can use Burst to instantly fill your board with low-cost units in a single free action. In comparison, the death style requires you to trigger four death effects from units, but it has the slightly weaker effect of allowing you to trigger a death effect without the card actually dying.

This strongly encourages you to build in specific ways and use decks that properly support your chosen Burst, so you get the most bang for the buck. In Fables mode, this is assisted by a leveling mechanic that lets you invest in one of the potential skill trees. Doing so unlocks valuable free cards specialized for that specific archetype. You can re-spec at any time, which removes those cards from your deck until you spec back into it, but it encourages you to try out different builds.

You also have relics to buy and equip. Relics grant powerful passive buffs, and you can equip up to four at once: three standard relics and one Elder relic. Standard relics allow you to draw an extra card on your first turn, while Elder relics are huge game-changers and do things like increase the power of all units of a specific type or deal one damage to any enemy unit that enters the field. As you might gather, many of the relics are immensely good for specific archetypes.

In addition to Fables mode, there's also Tusk Tales, which is a roguelite mode. You start with a pre-built deck and a variety of different captains to use, and you level up once you've done a run, so you can start with stronger cards, equip more relics, etc. It uses the now-familiar Slay the Spire "tree" methods of advancement, where you go from node to node; see fights, shops or events along the way; and gradually build your own custom deck to battle a strong enemy at the end.

Tusk Tales seems like where the meat of the game time is intended to be spent, as there's a ton of variety to be found. There's also a Trinket mechanic that allows you to power up specific cards with reduced costs, increased powers, or special effects. It does wonders for decks built around low-cost units, like the aforementioned groupies build. Finishing a level unlocks further and harder levels to explore and challenge.

There's also a neat effect with the different captains, where they not only have specific starter decks, but they also have specific attributes that impact the choices you can take during event nodes. A noble captain may be able to take a heroic choice, but he can't take an evil one, while a clever captain can outthink a node challenge. This adds a bit of flexibility to event squares, so rather than having the one optimal choice that you pick every time, it can vary from captain to captain.

Visually, Cross Blitz is a charming game with a bright and colorful art style and a lot of pleasant and easy-to-read pieces of card artwork. It isn't quite as animated as some games in the genre, but it does well enough to keep players invested and interested in what amounts of digital squares of cardboard bumping into each other. The soundtrack is also quite nice and has some good, solid tunes for your pirating adventure.

Cross Blitz is a solid Early Access entry. The basic framework of the game is there and is enjoyable, and it's very easy to see how the Tusk Tales mode can eat up hours of time. There's a good amount of content for an EA title, with several story modes and plenty of challenges to take on. If you're willing to deal with the normal foibles of Early Access, then Cross Blitz is a strong purchase. If you're not a fan of Early Access builds, then it's worth keeping an eye on this title, so you can pounce when it's finally feature complete.

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