Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
[Review code provided by Idea Factory International]
Azur Lane has certainly made waves since it’s release in 2017. Over the past few years, the mobile game has gained a lot of fans. It would be difficult not to call it a huge success – and where there’s success, there’s spin-offs.
That brings us to today’s review of Azur Lane: Crosswave, a 3D Action Shooter based on the mobile game. Aiming to translate Azur Lane’s iconic ship-girls (or Kansen, as they’re called here) to 3D, the game is set before the events portrayed in the mobile game.
The story of Azur Lane: Crosswave revolves around the discovery of mysterious cubes by Sakura Empire newcomers (and de facto protagonists) Shimakaze and Suruga. After an unexpected clash with the Sirens, the cubes are scattered by the ocean waves, and float into international waters. Thus, Sakura Empire’s Akagi devises a plot – by inviting the other nations to a Joint Military Exercise, they can gather the cubes discretely, and without causing an international incident.
The story plays out through visual-novel style cutscenes, much like the mobile game. Unlike the mobile game, every line of dialogue is fully voiced in Japanese, which is a nice treat – Azur Lane has quite a stellar cast of VAs. With 7 chapters in total, and running about 8 or so hours, the story forms a decent chunk of the game’s content.
Between cutscenes, of course, there’s battles to be fought. After all, this is a 3D Action Shooter, and not a visual novel. For better or worse, Crosswave manages to do a pretty good job at translating Azur Lane’s gameplay to a 3D plane. Battles are generally short and sweet, if not a bit simple.
Players are tasked with avoiding enemy fire while returning shots of their own. The controls are simple and fluid, and an auto-target system means it’s more a case of keeping your sights on a target than actually aiming. Battles take place with a small square arena with no obstacles, so there’s no navigation to worry about, either.
It’s very casual friendly, which should be good for fans of the mobile game that aren’t used to 3D games. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to sink your teeth into once you’ve got the basics handled.
Players are free to assemble a fleet of six Kansen (three combatants and three supporters) from the game’s roster. Although it would be impossible to represent everyone in Azur Lane’s vast roster, Crosswave includes many fan favourites, like Enterprise, Bismarck and Akagi. Since all of the Kansen function similarly, it’s easy to pick your favourites and stick with them.
Much like the mobile game it’s based on, Kansen in Crosswave level up and can be equipped with various gear to enhance their performance. Equipment and upgrade materials can be collected through fights. If that sounds offputting, then don’t worry – you won’t really need to bother too much with these systems in the main story.
However, the story isn’t the end of the content in Azur Lane: Crosswave. Once the Joint Military Exercise is over, there are still Extreme Battles and Episodes to check out.
Extreme Battles are a series of increasingly difficult skirmishes against a broad variety of fleets. There are quite a lot of fights here, and you’ll need to work through them if you want to raise your favourite Kansen to level 200, kit them out with top-end gear, and even marry them.
Of course, that’s if you can be bothered. This is very much where the game gets grindy – you’ll need to level up your ships and their weapons to clear the higher levels. If you’re not enamoured with the combat in Crosswave, then Extreme Battles will do nothing for you. I’m not even sure there’s a reward for clearing every battle, beyond the achievement itself.
Episodes, on the other hand, are short stories that feature the girls in various day-to-day interactions. Once again, they’re all fully voiced. These stories are a lot of fun, and are a real treat for fans of Azur Lane’s colourful cast. For some players, this might even be the game’s selling point.
That said, I don’t think Azur Lane: Crosswave has a lot to offer if you’re not already a fan of the franchise. Newcomers may well be charmed by the characters but the core gameplay is pretty shallow and repetitive. Whether they’d stick around is hard to guess.
If you are a fan, then Crosswave has a lot of content to enjoy. The gameplay isn’t the star here – it’s the fully voiced story scenes. It’s always interesting to see the girls interact, and the story is an enjoyable adventure. Add the Episodes on top of that, and there’s quite a lot of meat there.
Ultimately, whether Azur Lane: Crosswave is the game for you really comes down to what you’re looking for. If you want a deep and compelling shooter, look elsewhere. But if you’re an Azur Lane fan looking to spend more time with the characters you love, then it’s worth a look. I enjoyed it well enough, and so should you.
For better or worse, Azur Lane: Crosswave faithfully translates the gameplay of Azur Lane to 3D. While the resulting combat is a bit shallow, the game does pack a lot of enjoyable content with it’s fully voiced cutscenes. Fans of the franchise are sure to enjoy the extra interactions with their favourite characters. However, there may not be much for newcomers to latch on to.