Azur Lane: Crosswave Review – Boats, girls, and some really small waves

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Azur Lane: Crosswave seeks to bring the Azur Lane franchise, the upper echelon of gacha gaming, is making its debut on consoles, but, it begs the question: Can they rope in console gamers? Let’s take a look.

Pros:
+Absolutely beautiful graphics
+Voice acting is superb and really delivers an astonishing experience
+Dialogues are actually well-written and amusing
+Upgrades to each of the characters feel meaningful and add decent gameplay changes to the overall experience

Cons:
-Combat scenarios are short, easy, and offer very little in the means of challenge
-Gameplay segments are easily overshadowed by the overwhelming amounts of character chatter

When it comes to niche gacha titles, I’m all for them. I’ve spent my time playing titles ranging from Fate/Grand Order to Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare, I’ve had a chance to dip into the gacha genre quite a bit, collecting the characters I want and min-maxing my group based on what I chose.

Now, one I’ve not had a chance to jump into before was the Azur Lane franchise, which has begun to build itself up into one of the highest-end gacha games available, a Japanese-exclusive Kantai Collection, if you will. The weirdest, but somehow the most interesting part of the game isn’t apparent at first when the game gets things underway: The girls are all battleships. No, I’m serious, they’re all battleships. So, what exactly makes this game sink or swim? Let’s talk about that.

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Azur Lane: Crosswave is, for what it’s worth, moderately enjoyable

If you haven’t really had the chance to play the browser-based title, Kantai Collection, then you have an idea of what to expect. Especially since the game took Japan by storm, setting an unprecedented fandom to emerge. Now, here we are, seven years later with Azur Lane: Crosswave, the very franchise that inspired the Kantai Collection in Japan, but for the Chinese crowd.

Now, it makes you wonder, how does one such game actually work if they were meant for browsers and for mobile devices? Well, a lot really. It comes out that let alone are you getting some interesting gameplay mechanics, which unfortunately grow stale over time, the game itself shines bright thanks to its overall narrative.

It’ll just take some wrapping your head around the fact that each of the boats you will control, are… Well… Girls infused with boats. More-so the fact that they also bring historical naval cruisers into the fold itself. Well, that aside, Azure Lane: Crosswave does as intended, it combines a heftily designed narrative to life through hours upon hours of light novel reading (the game is entirely in Japanese and or Chinese) to enjoy.

Those wanting some fast-paced third-person arena shooting will find it actually overshadowed by its narratively-driven light novel experience. Despite that tidbit, the game is actually extremely well-dubbed and it’s hard not to appreciate that by any means necessary. There’s also the fact that the game itself is actually charming, beautifully designed, and for the most part, enjoyable.

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Azur Lane: Crosswave is actually a beautifully designed piece of eye candy

With the minor introduction to the game now established, it’s time to really get into the meat of things, tear the game down, and discuss it bit by bit. The first part is the fact this game, for the most part, is a visual novel and its rather heavy on that emphasis no matter how much you play it.

You’ll find that the visual novel elements remain at the forefront no matter what you do, no matter how much you don’t want to learn the story of the Sakura Empire who has discovered that the recently defeated Sirens are up to no good as they are dropping mysterious cubes throughout the nearby lands.

As part of their plans, they’ve devised a joint-military exhibition with the nations of the world, bringing in multiple other countries in order to have them help collect and research the mysterious cubes. This leads to characters Shimakaze and Sugura, two new ships in the world of Azur Lane, getting caught in the mystery itself.

When the Sakura Empire discovers that recently defeated Siren enemies are dropping mysterious cubes, they devise a joint-nation military exhibition event as an excuse to get more ships to help them collect and research these mysterious objects. Shimakaze and Sugura, two ships that are new to the world of Azur Lane, get caught up in the middle of this mystery as the protagonists of the story.

Unlike mobile games, Azur: Lane: Crosswave takes a major step up in graphical appearance, cranking the dial-up to a fifteen from a six. Graphics themselves are beautifully designed, making each of the girls actually pop while explosions, abilities, and set pieces absolutely pop, unlike the mobile siblings. This also makes each of the girls’ unique designs really stand out and show off just how unique they actually are.

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Azur Lane: Crosswave’s controls are actually easy to learn as its gameplay offerings

One of the big things here is that each character in Azur Lane: Crosswave is unique. Each one comes with their own gameplay style, each with their own preferred loadouts and each of them with their own uniquely designed kit to enjoy. Well, that’s if you decide not to change out the various weapons they come with from the start.

With over 29 ship girls to experience, Azur Lane: Crosswave has a lot to offer and that doesn’t include the 35 other support girls you can enlist into your services, which allows you to do even more with them when you get the chance to access them, allowing them to buff and support your characters however they can.

However, aside from upgrades, loadouts, and the varying amounts of ballistic projectiles you will get, you’ll find that combat is rather featureless, pointless, and not near as fone as one would hope. Sure, there is a middle-ground where some tactical gameplay elements will crop up, but that doesn’t stop the fact that enemies themselves become repetitious, with only other ship girls really offering a change of pace when you encounter them.

Upgrading gear itself also changes how the core gameplay is experienced, allowing you to stay ahead of the curve, always being a bit more powerful than what the game has to offer. Want to one-shot a few ships? Take time to get some upgrade cubes, getting mysterious pieces here and there, and then going about your merry way.

The campaign itself, for what it’s worth, only runs around 10 hours and is a seemingly bland and monotonous shooter experienced attempted to be masked as a bullet-hell title. As someone who was looking forward to this, I’d rather have had the mobile game released here in the states, giving us a chance to truly experience what Azur Lane has to offer.

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Abandon Ship – The Conclusion

While I’d love to say this is one that just hits its strides, offering us a clean and beautiful remastering of the mobile experience, I can’t say it does. While artfully designed, well-scripted, and even an audio-based masterpiece, this isn’t one that will offer what its mobile sibling will, which is a shame, but it will still offer hours of entertainment for those wanting something to burn a good ten hours or so with.

Azur Lane: Crosswave
Platforms: 
PC and PlayStation 4
Version Reviewed: 
PlayStation 4
Developer:
Compile Heart, Idea Factory, Felistella, Idea Factory Co., Ltd.
Publisher:
Idea Factory
Release Date: 
Available Now
Cost:
$49.99

The only thing I have to warn? Don’t do it all at once. It’s not a game you will want to burn through in a single session, which while it sounds tempting, isn’t near as tempting as it might seem, isn’t beneficial and only will lead to some mildly induced irritation the further in you get.


Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.


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About the Writer(s):

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable.  You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!

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