Azur Lane Crosswave
Azur Lane Crosswave is a 2019 action-shooter video game developed by Felistella (with an additional work by Compile Heart and Idea Factory) and published by Compile Heart in Japan, Justdan in Taiwan, and Idea Factory worldwide. The game is a spin-off on a popular shipgirl game Azur Lane made by Shanghai Yostar, whose in-turn supervised the development of the game.
The game was released for the PlayStation 4 in 2019 exclusively in Japan, in 2020 released in other regions alongside with a worldwide Microsoft Windows release. The Nintendo Switch version was released only in Japan, and intends to be released in the rest of the regions in February 2021.
The military of each nation marched towards yet another season of diligent training. Suddenly, in the middle of their normal routines, a Joint Military Exercise was enacted. In this monumental event, a select few from each nation were chosen, causing all of them to train even harder in anticipation of rigourous battles ahead.
The game offers four modes: Story Mode, Extreme Battle Mode, Photo Mode, and Episode Mode. Story Mode goes through 7 riveting chapters in the footsteps of newcomers, Shimakaze and Suruga. In Extreme Battle Mode, choose from 100+ challenging fleets to battle for rare items and special materials. In Photo Mode, you can pose characters, change facial expressions, alter backgrounds, and camera angles to create a picturesque moment.
Azur Lane Crosswave has three types of gameplay.
- Visual Novel: The first type of gameplay that is, surprisingly, the most noticeable are visual novel scenes, which, as befits this genre, consists of reading dialogues, listening, and seeing what is happening on the screen.
- Simulation: The second type of gameplay is simulation. Basically the main role is to upgrade the anthropomorphic ship with skills and other gadgets in your inventory.
- Action-Shooter: The last type of gameplay that should essentially be the most important is shooting regular ships and planes with female moe anthropomorphic ships, with a few support ships.
NOTE: Don't add fan-service as a bad quality, because it was in the original game. Additionally, it is common in this type of games, which would already be too boring and nitpicking to add.
- The fundamental problem with Crosswave is that it lacks content. What's even more embarrassing, a mobile game which was released a few years earlier, offers more content, and it's completely free, which makes buying the game pointless. There is no home customization and there are less ships than in the original.
- The game with its DLCs are horrendously overpriced, especially when the console adaptation feels empty in comparison to the original game, which was mentioned in BQ#1. While the mobile game is free, the console game costs $50 since its release, and five DLCs, each offering only one character in all of them, cost $8 per one DLC of the character.
- Boring gameplay that is inappropriate for games released on consoles. For an original game, as previously mentioned you don't even have to pay and the simple gameplay is more suited to a mobile game. For 90% of the game, the game offers you visual novel scenes mentioned in BQ#4, while the gameplay itself, i.e. shooting ships, not only is it much less common than scenes, but the fights themselves are incredibly short, when the scenes are extremely long. Worst of all, there's a grind here and you're forced to do the same over and over again.
- Although the graphics look good, there is one thing that causes a burst of laughter due to ineptitude. The problem is water, which is very poorly-presented and closer to wet jelly. Other anime-style games like Genshin Impact had no problem with it, not because of the artistic style but because of its representation. At least in that game you can see anything underwater, in the case of Crosswave it is impossible due to its mismatched, too dark blue water's color.
- The visual novel aspect is embarrassingly poorly presented. It looks as if Felistella was never aware of the existence of visual novel, but rather envisioned a doll theater. It just looks bland, cheesy, and totally done cheaply and with least line of resistance.
- There are very few backgrounds, mostly confined to the sky and the ocean, and less of anything else.
- The animations are almost non-existent, except when the characters start talking, only slowly shaking in one graph of coordinates with a stiff animation. It looks as if PNG files of dedicated characters have been added to the cutscenes that don't even try to act and stand like a normal human being, but standing like a bird in air.
- The characters show almost no emotion, except when the developers replace the PNG image of a dedicated character who wants to express that emotion in a certain situation.
- Generic and painfully basic plot that basically barely exists, sprinkled with dialogues as if they were written by a college student.
- Non-existent lip-syncing. It is worth recalling that this is a game that was released in 2019, which is lacking lip-syncing, especially in shooting missions, similar to visual novel scenes. It is really unacceptable that something like this would not be introduced, especially in the era that ended the 2010s.
- As usual with Idea Factory and Compile Heart games, there is English dubbing, but unfortunately it was not introduced in Crosswave. Those who have always preferred to play with English voices in Hyperdimension Neptunia games, may feel a little disappointed.
- Very low replay value, because it's better to save money and play the original that offers more for no price.
- The game looks good in terms of graphics, mainly due to the advanced engine such as Unreal Engine 4, or as for the standard anime-styled games, it is accompanied by cel-shading. The first thing you can see are beautiful illustrated characters that accompany cutscenes and other parts of the game, excluding the shooting stages. Shooting missions are accompanied by well-made natural elements, special effects, and the main role of the graphic artistry is played by three-dimensional models of characters that are perfectly reproduced in relation to the illustrations. For a while, in some type of gameplay which is inspired by the original game, you'll see drawn graphics with adorable chibi-styled characters. In some cutscenes there are backgrounds of a given place, for example inside the ship, the artists also did a good job here.
- The character design looks great and adorable, although in the original this design was also accompanied. Some characters are dressed in WWII climates, paying tribute to the original ships, while others are hybrids of anthropomorphized animal and ship, for example Laffey is a combination of a rabbit with a ship of the Eagle Union nation. Other times, they are typical Japanese maids, for example Belfast.
- The game is fairly faithful to the original game. There is a similar graphic style (not including the 3D), mentioning the chibi style and the illustrated characters (appearing outside the main gameplay), there is a feature that allows you to marry ships, the same voice actors remain in their respective roles, upgrading ships for the same currencies (without microtransactions in this case), and more.
- In terms of audio, the game performs well as usual, as it was in the original. The voice acting sounds as it should, especially the emotions they express, and the voices themselves are relevant to given characters that have either a high voice in younger ones, and a slightly lower voice in older-looking characters. While the music, as for standards of games released under the Idea Factory brand, is catchy with a dose of anime opening/ending style.
- While the game and DLCs are overpriced, a digital Deluxe Edition is cheap (at least when you buy as a DLC on Steam), which somehow costs same as one DLC of the character, but offers more interesting content for its price.
- The game offers a Photo Mode, where you can additionally use whether the characters should have one or two eyes open or closed, and their emotions.
- You can play as Neptune of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, a mascot of Compile Heart and Idea Factory at the same time. Additionally, Neptune is completely free, unlike five additional Azur Lane characters.
- The physical Limited Edition of the game is a real treat for collectors with a lot of cool items. The collection offers an empty CD box with divine illustrations (including one from cover art), a picture that is attached with the stand, a CD box with the soundtrack, three pins (including Javelin, Suruga, and Ayanami), artbook, and the most surprisingly stuff, a chibi-styled figure of Shimakaze.
Azur Lane Crosswave received mixed reviews by critics and mixed-to-moderately positive reception by players. The criticism was mainly related to gameplay that was comparable to mobile games, poorly-presented visual novel sections, or repetition which is causing a grind. On OpenCritic, the game received a rating of "Weak", an average score of 60/100 and 19% critics recommend, based on 21 reviews.
On Metacritic, the PlayStation 4 version received 56/100 ("mixed or average") based on 8 reviews and a user score of 6.1/10, and the PC version holds a user score of 7.0/10.
Josh Tolentino of Destructoid gave a 6/10 ("All right"), saying "Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled."
Digitally Downloaded's Matt S., among the rest of the critics, was most sympathetic to the game, giving 4/5 stars (8/10 in ten point scale), considering the game "clean, snappy, hugely entertaining" and "an excellent next step forward for the emerging property."
Joseph Doyle from Worth Playing was the complete opposite of Digitally Downloaded, giving a score of 3/10, but unlike most, the criticism was about fan-service and for the fact that the game is targeting a younger audience than he expected, saying "Crosswave and all games under the Azur Lane banner espouse views on females — especially young girls — that I cannot look past, and it's troubling to me that this title is deemed appropriate for teenagers."
- In Europe and Australia, the PlayStation 4 version was published by Reef Entertainment.
- MobyGames' plot description: https://www.mobygames.com/game/azur-lane-crosswave
- OpenCritic's score: https://opencritic.com/game/8989/azur-lane-crosswave
- Metacritic - the PlayStation 4 version: https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/azur-lane-crosswave
- Destructoid's review: https://www.destructoid.com/review-azur-lane-crosswave-580191.phtml
- Digitally Downloaded's review: http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/2020/02/review-azur-lane-crosswave-sony.html
- Worth Playing's review: https://worthplaying.com/article/2020/5/20/reviews/119619/
- GameFAQs - the PlayStation 4 version: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/ps4/247971-azur-lane-crosswave
- GameFAQs - the PC version: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/pc/276386-azur-lane-crosswave