Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Wildbus Studio
Developer: Wildbus Studio
Despite being awarded Game of the Year in 2020, I have never fully understood the appeal of games like Animal Crossing. While I have a general idea of what you’re supposed to do, I always lacked the patience to fully immerse myself in the game. So, when Freak Crossing came along, promising a twisted take on the popular franchise, I was intrigued to see what it had to offer.
The good news – and I use that term loosely – is that Freak Crossing definitely lives up to its promise. It is undeniably a warped and adult-oriented version of Animal Crossing. This becomes evident from the moment you start exploring the village and encounter Old Bachelor, a donkey dressed in S&M gear who resides in a house adorned with posters of voluptuous anime girls. Early on in the game, you discover that one of your tasks as the temporary village head is to convince him not to bring his mail-order bride, or “waifu” as others call her, home from the train station.
Yes, Freak Crossing earns its M rating.
The problem with the game – if the previous paragraph wasn’t enough to make you dismiss it or run away screaming – is that it feels like a fusion of Animal Crossing and WarioWare, but falls short of being as good or as interesting as either of those games. The core gameplay loop involves interacting with your creepy assistant, tackling the village’s daily trouble spot, and then playing a mini-game to solve the problem. Unfortunately, this formula quickly becomes repetitive.
A major reason for its quick descent into tedium is the game’s failure to always explain what you are supposed to do. It’s easy enough when the mini-game involves “spotting the problem on a lottery ticket,” but less clear when, for example, giant flying cows are being shot at you and you’re left wondering what you should do – avoid them? It’s never fully explained.
What is clear, however, is that Freak Crossing has very specific expectations of what you should do, assuming you will figure them out on your own. This wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t so easy to fail a task, often resulting in a game over without a clear understanding of why you failed. While WarioWare games may be absurd, they at least provide a vague idea of your objective, but Freak Crossing doesn’t offer the same luxury.
Oddly enough, I can see why some people might enjoy this game. Its strangeness and unpredictability might be precisely what certain gamers seek. However, personally, I found Freak Crossing to be a somewhat unsettling waste of time – perhaps that was its intention, but it doesn’t mean I want to continue playing it.
Wildbus Studio provided us with a Freak Crossing PC code for review purposes.