Sometimes, when a trailer is released for a game, you think, “Geez, this game looks kind of weird.” That’s exactly what I was thinking upon viewing the teaser for Freak Crossing. It wasn’t super clear what this game entailed other than interacting with some very “eccentric” characters that live in this village. So, I was curious to see what kind of title Wildbus Studios had created.
When starting the game, I was introduced to a title screen that I did not understand at all. The text looked to be Japanese, so I had to try to find where the settings were so that I could change it to English. After some trial and error, I discovered the language setting and switched it so that I would actually be able to understand what was going on and play.
Your uncle has been hospitalised, and you have been asked to be the interim village head while he recovers. Freak Crossing warns that the residents living in the village are unruly, which is a huge understatement. You are tasked with meeting everyone in the village and introducing yourself. Based on all the animal-type characters and the game’s title, you may think that this is going to be an experience like Animal Crossing, but it definitely is not. There is a reason why this game has an M – Mature rating.
While on your tour, you will meet Old Bachelor, a donkey decked out in S&M gear, in a house covered with photos of scantily clad anime characters. One of your tasks will be to convince him not to bring his "waifu,” aka mail-order bride, home from the train station. Another task you encounter involves the bartender’s fiance cheating on him with a rooster named Wang Jr. When you visit his fiance Jane, she asks you to take Wang’s belt back to him, as he left it at her place. You will notice that the characters in this story aren’t the most outstanding citizens and go out of their way to be quite sketchy.
The controls in Freak Crossing are incredibly basic. All you do is move around with the left thumbstick, jump with B, and talk using A. The only time I ever needed to jump was for the bizarre mini-games that you are forced to play. Typically, mini-games can be fun, like in WarioWare, but here, you are given no direction at all. It’s easy enough when you have a lottery ticket where you have to spot the problem with it, but games where characters are throwing bags of garbage or cows at you aren’t clear at all. Am I supposed to hit these projectiles, avoid them, or throw them back? I have no idea; Freak Crossing doesn’t tell you. The game assumes that you will figure out what to do. It was incredibly easy to fail a task and not be entirely sure why you lost. At least WarioWare gives you an idea of what is going on in the game.
The gameplay loop here gets incredibly old fast. All you are doing is talking to the residents and your creepy assistant, going to the area of the village where there is trouble, playing a confusing mini-game, and starting all over again. There were multiple times when I was stuck, unsure of what to do next, so I would keep talking to the same characters over and over again, hoping something would change so that I could progress. After a while, I realised that I had to change my response in a conversation, and that would switch things up so that I could continue and start the next loop.
Freak Crossing has a seemingly retro-inspired look to it. It’s very basic and reminds me of old computer games. To go along with this were chiptune versions of songs that you would recognise, like "Blowin’ in the Wind" by Bob Dylan, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", or "Kumbaya, My Lord". Hearing them constantly on repeat while you are in that specific loop got tiring and annoying very fast! I turned the volume off so I wasn’t being tortured by the same tune repeatedly.
I played Freak Crossing on the Nintendo Switch, but according to the game’s Steam page, it features multiple endings depending on your actions in the game. There is only one save slot where the game will automatically record your progress, so there is no going back to change what you have done. To be fair, I don’t think that I would want to try to get all the multiple endings offered here.
Some people may like this game because it’s so strange and warped. For me, there were no likeable characters, and with so many inappropriate and unsettling moments, it was a waste of time. I can definitely say that finding out that the Old Bachelor was a child molester wasn’t an entertaining experience. I suggest that if you aren’t a fan of twisted, adult-themed games, you should be sure to avoid this one. It’s not broken or unplayable; it’s just messed up.
Freak Crossing (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
The game is unenjoyable, but it works.
Freak Crossing is not a broken game, but with no instructions and along a story full of twisted and disturbing events, it was not a fun experience for me.