Imagine, for a moment, that you’re driving home. You’ve had a long day. Work was awful, it’s way too hot outside, and traffic is stop-and-go. You take a deep breath and try to clear your mind. You’re almost home. Soon, you can lay back, pick up a controller, and KABLAMMO! You were just blown up by a grandpa. Or a grandma. It depends on whether you want to play as Henry or Florence in CrossKrush: the latest in baffling puzzle games.
Coming from the developers at Thinice Games, this title follows a crotchety couple that loves to dance. At least, they used to. A noisy highway has been constructed near their home, and they must now destroy every single car that even dares to cruise by. A perfectly sane response. If I’m honest with you, reader, I didn’t have even the slightest clue that there was that much of a backstory to the game. I got all of that only from the Xbox Store’s description. I beat the entirety of CrossKrush twice, and I was never offered an explanation for Henry and Florence’s vehicular killing spree.
Of course, many could say that story hardly matters in a puzzle game, and many would be correct. Going to a puzzle game for a story can often feel like going to the Doom Slayer for advice on anger management. Unfortunately, going to CrossKrush for a good puzzle game is like doing that while wearing a shirt that says, “I love demons.”
Your objective, as an irate elder, is to clear the street of all oncoming traffic in as few moves as possible. You do this by selecting a tile on the road, and activating it when a car is on top of it. The car goes boom, and if it’s a red car that says “TNT,” it goes very boom. If it’s a white car it functions almost exactly like a red car, and if it’s an ambulance every remaining car jumps into hyperspeed to try and run you over. You monster. Once all of the cars in a wave are gone, a new wave comes. This happens ten times for each of the game’s ten levels. The two biggest problems are that there is almost no way to lose, and it is very boring.
Unless you turn on the modifier that makes you die and fail after being struck a single time, there is no way to fail in CrossKrush. You can lose health each time you get hit, but I would get hit when having only one piece of health left and I still wouldn’t fail. In order to get to the point that I had one piece of health left, I had to intentionally allow vehicles to slam into me. Why would I do that? Because the plodding pace of oncoming traffic is mind-numbingly boring. I earnestly did my best to complete each wave for the first ten stages, but for the last half I ran up and down the street while trying to make my own fun.
I had little luck with that. In fact, I even discovered a specific spot where cars were completely incapable of hitting me. If I can put my controller down and beat the game by waiting long enough, why am I here? If I can lose oodles of points, get smacked around, not eliminate a single car, and still beat the game, why am I here?
Following my first run through, I tried it with the modifier that increased the speed of the cars. This was an enormous improvement, so I tried my best again. However, eliminating cars was still not fun. They disintegrate in a minor poof, and even at a faster rate it gets old incredibly quick. Finally, I tried the co-operative multiplayer mode with a friend. This made the game crushingly easy. Which is weird to say for a game that’s already impossible to lose. Needless to say, we got tired incredibly fast.
That is literally all there is to CrossKrush on Xbox One. It’s an incredibly short game, seeing how I beat it twice in the space of two hours. And, like the automobiles that Henry and Florence blew to smithereens, those are two hours that I’ll never get back. If you’re looking for a cathartic, relaxing, engaging, and rewarding puzzle game, this is the possibly the worst title you could choose.