CrossKrush, on paper, has a weirdly disturbing yet interesting premise as a puzzler. The game set-up is that an elderly married couple, Henry & Florence, are enjoying a peaceful lifestyle until a major highway is built in front of their house. So, in retaliation, the couple must whack at and blow up cars to retake their property. As dark and chaotic as that premise sounds, it is the basis of this somewhat challenging puzzle game where you must strategically blow up random cars. Unfortunately, while there is some fun and challenge to be had, CrossKrush comes as a puzzler with little to offer aside from its own oddball concept.
You control either Henry or Florence as they destroy oncoming waves of cars (excluding ambulances) to prevent them from driving past a crosswalk at the bottom of your screen. You destroy vehicles by selecting one square on the ground. These squares are called cells and, once activated as a vehicle is on top, it explodes and you earn points. Allowing vehicles that aren’t ambulances or rollers to drive past the crosswalk will decrease your overall score. In addition, you can use either Henry or Florence’s cane to whack at cars as they pass by, but it does only limited damage. Throughout each of the game’s 10 levels, you will be faced up with 10 waves of traffic to destroy. But, if you are not careful to move or activate cells appropriately, you will be faced with either missing prime opportunities for points or finding yourself hit and having to slowly get back on your feet. That last aspect alone can lead to some frustrating moments when a wave has moved forward by two to three rows.
As you destroy a vehicle, the oncoming wave of cars will inch forward as you rush to strategize what cell to activate. You must look out for the varying car types which, if destroyed, can aid you in clearing each wave. For instance, if you blow up a white car, then the cells around said car can be activated in turn. If you activate a cell with a car carrying TNT, then all surrounding vehicles go up in a blaze instantly. Depending on the placement of vehicles, you will find yourself activating cells with these types of cars in close proximity, leading to some devastating combos. But, while you are setting off combos, it can become easy to accidentally activate multiple cells that are under an ambulance. Besides losing points, destroying an ambulance will lead to the wave moving up an additional space. This becomes a constant frustration as you are dealing with both the wave’s steady movement and trying to find the best course of action.
More points can also be achieved if you clear a wave in a certain amount of actions. Each explosion you set off is deemed a single action. For example, if you destroy a wave at or under the set amount of actions, you are awarded extra points. Also, when destroying cars blocking ambulances, it must be noted that these vehicles will proceed to place a heavy emphasis on putting the pedal to the metal. So, when activating a cell to free an ambulance, make sure you aren’t in the way, or else you will find either Henry or Florence knocked hard onto the pavement. Aside from your own health meter to watch for, you can still easily make it through a stage wave after wave if you stay out of harm’s way. Depending on the difficulty setting, playing on normal offers a slight challenge.
Other than the basics of finding a useful strategy that doesn’t endanger an ambulance or leave your elderly protagonists struggling to make it back to their feet, CrossKrush feels and plays a little too one note. While the idea here is kinda morbidly intriguing at first, it offers not so much out of a casual glance or playthrough. Local co-op is included along with different game modes that tweak certain activations or environments to give things a different spin, but that depends if the whole hook grabs your attention for more than a few waves. The entire mechanic simply starts to feel bland, even by the early levels. This says a lot, considering you can breeze through the game’s 10 levels in under an hour at best. Unless you want to achieve higher scores at different difficulty settings, there’s not much replayability beyond that.
However, even with these middling observations, you can at least take comfort in the game’s jazz-inspired soundtrack. The catchy tunes are surprisingly soothing as you watch cars explode one after another. This fact alone can at least briefly take your mind off an unfortunately monotonous puzzle offering that are simply barebones.