Also on: PC
Publisher: Wildbus Studio
Developer: Wildbus Studio
Notwithstanding the fact it was our Game of the Year in 2020, I’ve never been able to fully understand the allure of games like Animal Crossing. I mostly get what you’re supposed to do – I think – but I’ve always lacked the patience to really get into the game. So, when Freak Crossing popped up and promised a warped take on the popular franchise, I was interested in seeing what it was like.
The good news – and I use that term very loosely – is that Freak Crossing definitely delivers on its promise. It is, undeniably, a warped – and very adult-oriented – version of Animal Crossing. That much is clear from your first exploratory tour of the village and run into Old Bachelor, a donkey in S&M gear who lives in a house adorned with posters of buxom anime girls. And when you get to his story very early on, you find out that one of your tasks as the temporary village head is to convince him to not go through with bringing his mail-order bride – or, as everyone else calls her, his waifu – home from the train station.
So yeah, Freak Crossing earns its M rating.
The problem with the game – if the above paragraph wasn’t enough to make you dismiss the game/run away from it screaming – is that it’s more like a cross between Animal Crossing and WarioWare, only not as good or as interesting as either of those games. The basic gameplay loop consists of talking to your creepy assistant, going to the village’s trouble spot of the day, and then playing a minigame to solve the problem. It gets old quickly.
A big part of why it gets old so fast is that the game doesn’t always explain what you’re supposed to be doing. Sure, it’s easy enough when the minigame is “spot the problem on the lottery ticket”, but it’s less apparent when, say, one of the characters is shooting giant flying cows over you, and you’re supposed to…do something? Avoid them? It’s never clear.
What is clear, though, is that Freak Crossing has very specific ideas about what you’re supposed to do, and it just assumes you’ll figure them out. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that it’s very easy to fail a task, which in turn usually means you get a game over, and you’re not entirely sure why you suddenly failed. WarioWare games may be absurd, but at least they give you a vague idea of your goal – you’re not so lucky here.
The weird thing is, I can see why some people might enjoy this game. It’s strange and it’s random, which might be exactly what certain gamers are after. Personally, though, I just found Freak Crossing to be a vaguely unsettling waste of time – which may be its point, but that doesn’t mean I want to play it.
Wildbus Studio provided us with a Freak Crossing PC code for review purposes.