Fans of collectible card games are in for a treat with the release of Cross Blitz in early access. It takes inspiration from the best of the genre, fusing elements of Magic: The Gathering, Slay the Spire, and Hearthstone amongst others. Though it follows the genre’s conventions in many areas, several elements help set the game apart. The first is its adorable graphical style, one that infuses the characters, world, and cards with a ton of charm. The second is its surprisingly robust story mode, giving players dozens of hours of content before they even touch the game’s roguelite mode. Here’s everything you need to know about Cross Blitz before diving in.
Borrowing From the Best
There’s only so much innovation that can occur within a genre, which is why most CCGs share similar elements. If you’ve played much Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Hearthstone, or Slay the Spire, you’ll be instantly familiar with the basics of Cross Blitz. You have 20 HP, and your goal is to deplete your opponent’s health before they deplete yours. To do so you’ll use a variety of cards, from lowely pirate minions to the toughest mercenaries and potent magic. To play cards you’ll need Mana, a resource that increases by 1 point per turn. That system ensures steady progress on both sides with minimal risk of holding a bunch of cards you can’t play.
Traits grant minions the ability to break the rules in fun ways, such as shrugging off damage, double-attacking, or ignoring summoning sickness to attack as soon as they appear. You can play your cards anywhere in the 4×2 grid, and position matters, as some abilities can affect every card in a row or column. Position-based strategies are one area in which Cross Blitz has the edge over MTG and similar titles. It’s hard to say how this mechanic will affect meta strategies and guide balance decisions in the future, but for now, it’s fun, intuitive, and adds a lot to the game.
A Tale of Pirates and Princesses
Unlike some CCGs, Cross Blitz features meta-progression as well as a fully-featured story mode called Fables. In Fables mode, you follow the adventures of one of several main characters, such as the pirate Redcroft. There are cutscenes, dialogue sequences, NPCs, places to explore, and secrets to discover. Few games in the genre even attempt something like this, and Cross Blitz‘s story mode is deeper and more compelling than most of the ones that do. The story, art, characters, and music are perfectly in sync with one another. “Whimsy” is the word of the day, with card art that could give the cutest Pokémon a run for their money.
The game does a great job of explaining its core mechanics while steadily introducing new ones, and there are plenty to introduce. One of the most important involves heroes and their meta-progression. By winning battles and leveling up you earn points you can spend to progress down one of four upgrade paths for each hero. Each path leans into a different strategy. Do you like magic or rush-down decks? How about combos? There’s a great deal of versatility for players to find something that suits their style and strategy. Each character and deck type feels distinct, and almost everything feels well-balanced so far.
Cross Blitz Delivers Roguelite Fun with Tusk Tales
It’s best to start with story mode to familiarize yourself with the basics, not to mention enjoy the zany adventures and funny writing. Then you can dive into Tusk Tales, Cross Blitz‘s roguelite mode. In terms of long-term replayability, this is where the heart of the game is. In Tusk Tales you travel across a node-based map that will be instantly recognizable to Slay the Spire fans. You fight battles, shop at merchants, rest at camps, and grind your way to the final confrontation against a boss. Along the way you can recruit a mercenary to accompany you, further customizing your deck with unique abilities and cards. Throw in some relics and other features for spice and the amount of customization is truly impressive.
Despite being in early access, Cross Blitz delivers a top-tier CCG experience. I only encountered a handful of bugs during my time with the game. The experience is a polished one overall. For newcomers to the genre, it’s a comparatively easy entry point. Yet veterans will still find plenty to keep them theorycrafting late into the night. It may not be one of the biggest games ever, but it could easily keep players locked in for a long time to come. It’s definitely a “one more run” type of game, and if Tako Boy Studios can maintain the same level of craftsmanship that it has shown thus far, Cross Blitz could rank amongst the genre’s best titles by the time it sees a full release.
Cross Blitz is available for PC in early access.