Game Reviews

Across Age

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Across Age

Across Age is as much a journey to save the world as it is an antique shopping excursion. Instead of knick-knacks and grandfather clocks, it's old skool role-playing that this adorable little game seeks.

All it manages to pick up, however, are the dusty bits and bobs that make such games a thing of the past. The only gem found here is the brightly coloured graphics, which attempt to conceal with cuteness an experience marred by inadequate controls and an uninspired battle system.


Not that a concerted effort hasn't been made to synthesise the best of those role-playing games that have come before it. Flattering old skool era master The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with imitation, you're tasked with stopping a time-travelling madman. What makes Across Age unique, though, is that you control a pair of heroes in this endeavour, not just one.

The knight Ales and budding mage Ceska set out together to destroy this evil-doer one dungeon at a time. What they end up accomplishing is the dismantling of expectations set by the game's charming presentation.

Across Age has trouble right from the start with fiddly controls. The set up isn't the issue: a virtual analogue stick sits on the left, while a pair of action buttons rest in the opposite corner on the right.

It's the analogue stick that causes problems, with its inability to deliver precise movement essential to surviving enemy confrontations and navigating obstacle-ridden environments. Characters move too far in a direction, the angle of movement is misinterpreted - there always seems to be a problem.

Bump and grind

The buttons aren't handled well, either. Team actions are triggered by taps and holds of the small action button at the right.

When in control of Ales (switching characters is done via panels at the centre of the screen), a tap of the small button picks up Ceska. This comes in handy when you need to lift her to a higher platform or hurl Ceska across a gap - it's a clever mechanic.

Herein lies the fiddly stuff: the same button instructs the two characters to split ways and regroup when apart. [Note: you can toggle a second button for team actions in the options menu, though the default controls remain as described.] The distinction between a tap and holding down a finger to the button is slight, which means you may pick up Ceska when you intended to regroup or split the two when intending to pick her up.

Do the controls work? Yes. Are they enjoyable to use? Absolutely not.

Regardless of how you feel about the controls, the battle system needs refinishing. Annoyingly, you have to bump into enemies to attack as Ales. It's a lame mechanic and should be reconsidered. At least you can button-mash with Ceska, who fires magical attacks with taps of the large action button.

Another era

Strong enemies make progress slow, not because they're overpowered and can't be defeated but due to the careful engagement required to avoid death.

For example, Ales takes enormous damage when attacking enemies directly, but can remain untouched when approaching diagonally. It's a tedious tactic that prevents you from scampering from room to room.

On all other counts, Across Age checks the role-playing game boxes: lots of equipment, a suitably interesting albeit trite story, and nice visuals.

Plenty more could be offered in the way of character development (automatically levelling-up eliminates statistical tinkering, for instance), but there are more immediate concerns. Gripes about character development pale in comparison to issues with the controls and the unusual combat.

Although Across Age has the look of a classy antique, it's a relic that requires refinishing.

Across Age

Fussy controls and a bizarre battle system render Across Age nothing more than an average anachronism
Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.