CROSS†Channel is the story of eight high school students in a school created for those who have failed an exam which determines how well they adapt to society. In other words, it is a school filled with mentally broken people. After a failed camp-out in the mountains for mending the broken relationships between the eight students, they return to the city to find that humanity has been annihilated, leaving only the eight students to fend for themselves. Can these eight people survive in a world with only them, with fractured relationships as they are?
CROSS†Channel starts out slowly. Almost boring, in fact. You might be turned off by the protagonist being an extreme pervert who sexually harasses everyone. You might be turned off by how… cliche some of the characters seem. But the beauty of the novel is that the layers behind the story unravel itself past the first week, once the nature of the plot is revealed. The game asks a whole lot of questions — why has humanity vanished? Who is this ninth person on a bike who only the protagonist can see? What is inside the shrine in the mountain? Don’t get turned off by the first two weeks of the story — the first two weeks barely hint at what’s going on behind everything.
CROSS†Channel is a story about mentally-broken individuals forced to mend their fragmented relationships in order to survive, so it should come as no surprise that the characters are the most interesting part of the story. The biggest revelations of the story are character-driven — what mental scars do these people have? The protagonist who always sexually harasses the girls, the tsundere girl who seems to have a past with the protagonist, the senpai who is always on the roof trying to fix a broadcast antenna in hopes of contacting any remnant of humanity, or the so-called “flowers” who are almost always together — all of these characters have something hidden behind them, and the story slowly reveals all their secrets.
CROSS†Channel is a fairly old VN, so the graphics are similarly quite old. The character designs occasionally border on the strange side, but overall it gives the animesque feel that VNs have.
CROSS†Channel has a fairly limited soundtrack, but it manages to be fairly memorable. The overall tone of the music is melancholic, as befitting of a VN set in an apocalyptic world. The soundtrack manages to convey the feeling of suspense, drama, and the occasional comedy, which means it does its job despite the fairly limited selection of tracks.
CROSS†Channel, however, does still have flaws. The ending, for one, appears to be fairly divisive. As for myself, I loved the build-up to the ending, and the epilogue is a fair closure to the entire story. I won’t spoil anything, however, so play it for yourself so you can form your own opinion on it. I have also mentioned that the first two weeks are rather slow, so by the end of the third or fourth week, you can judge whether you want to continue reading this VN. Finally, people may also get turned off by the amount of sex in this novel. Some of it may even be uncomfortable to watch due to the situations involved in those scenes. For those who are turned off by large amounts of sex in a story, turn away now.
CROSS†Channel is definitely not a story for everyone. However, for those who can look past the unsettling premise of the story, you will be rewarded with a thought-provoking, discomforting, disturbing, heartwarming, and heart-rending story about the nature of human relationships.
CROSS†Channel has a side story called “Tower of Friends”, a scrapped bad-end scenario for the game. It expands on some unanswered questions in the main story line.
Overall verdict: 8/10
Possible turn-offs: unusual writing style, sexual harassment, high amount of sex scenes