Note: PS4 Review Code provided by Idea Factory International.
With the Azur Lane anime recently finishing its airing the next logical step is taking a look at the game. No, not the mobile game. I am referring to the 3D spinoff. Question is whether it is worth embarking on this voyage together with a lovely cast of boat girls/Kansen big and smol? Let us find out as we take look at Azur Lane: Crosswave, developed by Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Felistella, Manjuu, Yongshi, and Yostar.
Platforms: PS4, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch (possibly in the near future).
Genres: 3rd Person Shooter, Action, Military, JRPG, Sci-Fi,
Themes: Boat Girls, Milimoe
Length: 20+ Hours (Story Mode. Other Modes provide more play time.)
Plot Summary: Boat Girls/Kansen from four factions, Eagle Union, Royal Navy, Iron Blood and Sakura Empire, came together to participate in the Crosswave Event. Basically mock battles disguised as a combat tournament. The story is narrated from Shimakaze and Suruga’s perspective as they interact with most of the Kansen that appeared in the Azur Lane anime.
As I said in the plot summary the main plot can be summed up as a fighting tournament, meaning that like other tournaments the draw is seeing the combatants interact and face each other in battle all the while something more sinister is brewing behind the scenes. The main story will not win any narration awards. Players came to see cute and sexy boats interacting and duking it out and that is exactly what the game delivers. Readers coming from the anime are advised to not expect boats to share similar relationships as they did on the show but they do give off nice bonding vibes. Basically you can still ship the ships like in the show and mobile game based on Story events or ones in bonus Episodes.
By the way, most of the cut scenes are long. Not Xenosaga long but they are not short.
Next up is the presentation. The CGs and character art (most taken from the mobile game) look great and are the best part of the game visually. Cut scenes include the standard voiced cutout images often seen in Japanese Visual/Kinetic Novels and some JRPGs that change facial expressions based on their mood. There is only Japanese voice acting available and it too is well done. The soundtrack is decent. Nothing groundbreaking but not bad either. It gets the job done.
As for the game play graphics the battle arenas serve their purpose of giving the Kansen space to surf and blast each other or other enemies to smithereens whereas the ladies’ 3D boat models are lovely. I would say they are PS3 level anime JRPG 3D graphics, which are pretty good.
There are 34 playable Kansen. Six of them DLC such as Neptune, meaning 34 cute and sexy boats to take into battle in 3 vs 3 combat. Not to mention the various Support Boats. As readers can see many Kansen that appeared in the anime are playable.
Moving on to the game play. In Story Mode players control either Shimakaze or Suruga on the World Map surfing around looking for supply chests, events and battles. As the game progresses more modes become available including Bonus Episodes that mainly feature extra scenes starring unlocked Kansen, Extreme Missions which are progressively harder battles that require players level up their favorite Kansen (unless one of the opponents is a fav of yours. You cannot have a Shimakaze on both sides.). Photo Mode allows Players to take their favorite Kansen and recreate cool scenes in a picture. Unlocked music, events and cut scenes can be viewed in the Gallery. In the Shop players can purchase stronger weapons and accessories that may not be found in chests or after battles. Speaking or shopping, there are special Action Points earned in battle. These are used to unlock the non-DLC Battle and Support Kansen.
Gameplay takes combat from the 2D mobile game and changes it to 3D so instead of a horizontal scrolling shooter it is a 3rd person arena shooter. I have not played much of the mobile game but from what I remember Azur Lane Crosswave did a solid job recreating the combat in 3D. I would not say to the level of, for example, the Trials of Mana Remake but good enough. Players enter battle in teams of up to 3 Battle Boats and up to 3 Support Boats. Battles consist of either players fighting waves of enemy ships and planes or a bunch of ships, planes and an enemy boat girl(s) as the boss. That or a direct battle against enemy Kansen. Depending on the chosen Kansen’s class, such as Shimakaze being a Destroyer Class ship, they have both set and unique abilities. For example, Ayanami is a Destroyer Class meaning her attacks do not do much damage and she cannot take much of a beating but she is fast and can dodge. Suruga is a Battleship Class and is not fast, nor can she fire many shots but she can strengthen her defenses with a barrier and her shots hit harder than a Destroyer. Kaga is an Aircraft Carrier, meaning she can launch planes to attack from a distance. She also has a unique ability when paired with Akagi. These details will come in extra handy in later battles and especially Extreme Missions. Support boats provide stat bonuses such as speed, power, regeneration etc. Depending on the Kansen types, all Battle and Support Kansen are Destroyers for example, the team get additional bonuses.
There is not much I can say to praise or bash the combat. It does what it set out to do and it did it the best it could, providing a decent enough experience. Battles can go from a minute or much longer depending on the difficulty of the enemy.
Overall the best way to describe Azur Lane: Crosswave is a game made for fans of the franchise and people intrigued by the concept. The main story is simple because the main draw is seeing fan favorite boat girls, most of them from the Azur Lane anime, interacting and facing each other in battle. The boat girls look great in 3D and drawn while the rest of the presentation is average. The gameplay is simple and to the point. There is enough to do to warrant its asking price though no Multiplayer, which depending on the reader may be a bummer or no big deal. The game is available on PS4, Steam and possibly the Nintendo Switch in the future.
Physical Editions can be ordered at the Idea Factory International Store.
PS: As of this writing the remaining Azur Lane DLC is scheduled for a Fall 2020 release date. The DLC boats are: Taihou, Roon, Formidable, Sirius and Le Malin. Neptune (Not the Kansen of the same name but The All Mighty Nepster) is already available for purchase but hopefully most interested fans downloaded her during the period she was FREE. Besides the playable Battle Boats each DLC pack includes additional Support Kansen and extra Story Mode content related to the DLC Kansen.
PPS: I did not talk about the Marriage/Oath between the “commander” (the player) and the Kansen because it did not interest me. It is there for intrigued players.