It’s basically the 2D Spider-Man game I’ve always wanted.
Double Cross is a game that has a few too many things going on for it to really be cohesive. As a side-scrolling platformer, it has a lot of great ideas that kept me excited to see what they would do next right up to the final level. Unfortunately, that great platforming is sandwiched between a lot of padding in the form of combat and cutscenes. There’s a lot I love about this game, but there’s also a lot I really wish I could’ve skipped. I spent too much time only half-paying attention to some dull, half-baked add-ons to an almost great game.
In Double Cross, you play as Zahra Sinclair, an agent of the interdimensional peacekeeping team known as R.I.F.T. Zahra has been tasked with discovering the identity of “Suspect X”, a double agent within R.I.F.T. who orchestrated an attack on the organization’s home base in the extraverse. Zahra’s mission has her traveling to different dimensions to gather clues and stop Suspect X’s meddling across the multiverse. Overall, it’s not a bad story to contextualize a platform game, but Double Cross takes its story a little more seriously than it deserves through an emphasis on detective-style investigation. In order to progress through the game, you’ll need to spend a lot of time talking to the members of R.I.F.T. to piece together clues that will lead you further down Suspect X’s trail. Double Cross’ characters are all pretty generic and bland: you’ve got the strict and serious commander, the protein junkie gym coach, the nerdy sidekick advisor—the gang’s all here. While they fit the Saturday morning cartoon tone of Double Cross’ story overall, they wear thin when you’re going back and forth between them to figure out things like who the weapons expert that can help you trace contraband back to its source is.
Thankfully the platforming side of things is much more entertaining. The main mechanic that keeps movement interesting in Double Cross is a proton slinger that allows Zahra to grab onto fixed anchor points in the world Spider-Man-style. Once you’ve grabbed onto an anchor point, you’ll automatically be pulled towards it and flung away in the exact opposite direction from where you started. Figuring out the right angles to sling from and chaining together jumps makes platforming feel really kinetic; despite Zahra’s slow run speed you’ll spend a lot of time moving quickly through the air, trying to quickly spot and grab your next anchor point.
Platforming is made even more fun by a variety of gimmicks throughout the different levels. The three dimensions you visit in your investigation are made up of three stages before a final boss level, and each of the nine levels has its own gimmick to add some spice to proton slinging. Zip lines will pull you along a specific path when you grab them. Industrial magnets will slowly move anchor points across a spike pit, forcing you to juggle yourself around. My favorite gimmick was a group of goo types that change Zahra’s movement properties. One type makes her bounce across the floor while another lets her hang from ceilings and walls. Using my proton slinger to hit the bouncy goo with more momentum than I’d get from a plain jump felt great, and I never stopped having fun with all the different ways I had to take advantage of the slinger.
If Double Cross were just a bunch of cool ways to use the proton slinger it would’ve been incredible, but sadly gameplay is further slowed down by forced combat sections with waves of way too many enemies. At the start of the game, you’ll only be able to use basic light and heavy attacks, making every fight just a contest of how quickly you can button mash. More abilities are unlocked as you progress through the story, but none of them are more interesting than a standard punch or kick. Sometimes enemies will throw items that you can grab with your proton slinger, and these will actually make for some pretty interesting fights. Unfortunately the vast majority of enemies don’t allow you to take advantage of your slinger. The combat really shines when the proton slinger is involved, so it’s a shame that you’ll spend most of the time just punching and kicking over and over.
Double Cross is almost great. With all the different ways to use the proton slinger in this game, I definitely had a blast progressing through the levels. Unfortunately, the investigation and combat sections make for such dull interruptions that at least a third of your time spent as an agent of R.I.F.T. will be a forgettable slog. I’d love to see a sequel take the proton slinger and really run with it because there’s a lot of potential the game leaves hanging.