Really, is there anything better in gaming than when you settle into a niche title that turns out to be absolute magic? Crosscode is an indie sci-fi RPG crowdfunded on Indiegogo a few years ago. It’s already been on Steam for some time. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of it until it was nearing its (now out) console release. I’m glad I got the chance to play it, because it’s become a personal all-time favourite for me.
CrossCode has quite a unique story. Players control a charming and (almost completely) mute blue-haired character by the name of Lea. The interesting spin here is that she’s a video game avatar, designed for play in the in-game fictional MMORPG called CrossWorlds. Unfortunately, she suffers from amnesia, with the only hints remaining of her past coming to her in dreams upon ‘logging off’ the CrossWorlds servers. These flashes appear to be past moments in her life, occurring within (and maybe even possibly outside) the game. So Lea must play through the game CrossWorlds, hoping that’ll spark some memory. Thankfully she won’t be alone.
Two interesting parallels are offered here. Lea, with the help of others outside of the game, is on a journey to just work out what in the hell is going on. At the same time, they’re taking on a true video game adventure. Plenty of side tasks and missions are on offer, but her sole objective in-game is to plunder dungeons, searching for and mastering the four different combat elements. I won’t give too much away here, but the story is an absolutely stellar ride full of wonderful twists and turns.
The world of CrossWorlds, based all inside CrossCode is a fully realised game world
CrossCode is a gorgeous little indie game that quite often bears homage to classic RPGs without ever crossing the line. Yes, it’s definitely going for that 2D, 16-bit SNES art style but it goes further. There are subtle scenery and iconography nods, such as a Trials of Mana–esque giant and important tree deep within a swamp-like forest. Then, more on the nose but still hilarious and fun is an encounter with a large katana-wielding mammal known as Sephisloth. I’ll leave you to pick up the obvious breadcrumbs there.
The other notable thing about the world of CrossCode is that it absolutely feels lived and breathed in. Whether players explore the snowy Bergen Trail or the enchanting jungle that is Gaia’s Garden, there’s plenty to see or do. Plenty of typical trading and shopping that can be found in RPGs is here, but just as important is interaction with those around you. With this, plenty of meta is explored: characters that appear to be typical NPCs will chat to you about updates or contents they ‘wish were coming to CrossWorlds.’ Nearing a portal to an area also sees that space populated with people rushing to enter it. The charm, iconography and in-jokes of MMOs are absolutely there, and it’s nailed.