There are a lot of sci-fi stories in media that cover such concepts as time travelling and hopping between dimensions. However, it’s rare to see such a story play out from the point of view of someone who works for an agency attempting to control something like travel between dimensions. This is exactly what happens during the events of Double Cross.
Double Cross follows the adventures of Zahra Sinclair as she goes about doing her duty for RIFT. It’s all business as usual, until a mysterious individual causes mayhem at RIFT headquarters. Eager to impress her superiors, Zahra goes about travelling to worlds within three different dimensions to find clues that could help RIFT understand the reason behind the attack and information on what the devious suspect is planning.
Rather than forcing players to take on each mission in a certain order, Double Cross gives them free reign to complete each of the initial three missions found in each world in any order. This is very useful given that each of the missions has a different difficult setting and so players could choose to tackle the easiest missions first and perhaps build up to the toughest mission in each world. A potential side effect of this design is that it’s not possible to quit a mission and then continue it from one of the many checkpoints. Not that each of the missions is long enough to warrant regularly having to quit them, in order to do something else, but it would have been nice to have the option to do so.
Each of the worlds has its own unique gimmicks that makes playing the missions more fun. One world focuses on a sticky substance that can make Zahra temporarily gain certain abilities when in contact with each type, such as running faster and using it as a trampoline. The use of such ideas is one of the highlights of the game and unfortunately they are better implemented than certain abilities that Zahra has.
It’s unusual that the development team chose to lean on the use of a grapple hook like ability called a Proton Slinger. In theory this ability would have made it more interesting to overcome the many obstacles found in each mission. It works by pressing a button and then choosing a nearby lockable object to use as a sling to propel Zahra in a certain direction. The problem is how difficult it is to throw Zahra in a desired path and it becomes very problematic when having to do it under pressure. It results in sequences where the Proton Slinger has to be used several times in a row being far harder to complete than they should be. This ability can also be used to grab objects and it works better since it is easier to make effective use of it in this manner.
Making the inaccurate grapple hook ability more frustrating is the fact that failing to use it properly will often result in having to restart whole sections from the nearest safe point. It makes playing some of the missions feel about as pleasant as accidentally stepping on a sharp object. Not being able to stop by quitting and continuing from the same point also doesn’t help.
Hidden within each mission are crystals that will help Zahra level up in order to unlock new abilities. These range from permanent enhancements such as increased health to ones that can be equipped to protect her with a shield and so on. These do help when it comes to tackling some of the tougher enemies like the bosses. The fighting itself isn’t particularly intricate enough and it merely consists of pressing either of two buttons to hit enemies and make use of the Proton Slinger to occasionally throw objects.
By gaining new clues from completing missions, it is then possible to go around the RIFT headquarters to try to use them to form a case file for each of the worlds. It’s a novel approach given that it means the supporting cast can actively help with the investigation. By interacting with each of them early on, players will get an idea of which one will be able to help with each of the clues found. There’s even the possibility to use other items in the headquarters and get help from characters found during missions. Successfully building a full case for each of the worlds will unlock the boss stage. Although the boss fights are not particularly inspiring, it’s still fun to take on the powers that each has and use any new clues to build the final case file. It’s a shame that some of the enemies found in each world have very similar abilities though.
The visuals in Double Cross are reminiscent of old school games and more so given the side scrolling approach. Each of the worlds has its own distinct look and some of the missions have thrilling sequences, such as one that takes place aboard a moving convoy of vehicles.
The concept behind Double Cross is interesting and the idea of a team that makes sure living beings don’t disturb the natural order of each dimension/reality by making use of travelling between dimensions works. The story touches on this as it unfolds, but the real focus is on what the mysterious individual and other third parties are up to. Although the execution of some ideas is not done particularly well, Double Cross is still a decent attempt at making use of an idea that is not often seen in the sci-fi genre.