In October of 2018 I fell in love with CrossCode, a solo PC action RPG disguised as a retro 2D fantasy MMO. I put it on my top games of 2018 list, where Jason Schreier saw it, played it, and fell in love as well. On Thursday CrossCode finally comes out for consoles. Now everybody can love it. Heck, I’m loving it all over again on the Switch.
CrossCode tells the story of Lea, a blue-haired girl who finds herself trapped inside CrossWorlds, a fictional massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Unlike the other player characters she encounters on her 40-80 hour adventure, Lea is unable to log out from the game, forced to play in order to uncover her lost memories and figure out the mystery behind her trapped state. She’s joined on her quest by members of the First Scholars, her in-game guild populated by “real” players. The whole thing is so damn charming.
Back when Jason and I played CrossCode on our computers, developer Radical Fish Games had no plans to release the sprawling epic on consoles, which was odd, as it’s perfect console fare. The 2D pixel graphics are endearing but not demanding of hardware. The abilities to save anywhere and teleport to waypoints instantaneously are both very console friendly, especially if the console in question is the partially portable Switch. Fortunately, ports were announced in early January 2019, and after a slight delay they’re just about here. Not only does CrossCode go live for the PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One on July 9, it’s also part of Xbox Game Pass, so subscribers to Microsoft’s game service get it for free.
I’m excited. Not just that I get to play the game again with all the tweaks and adjustments Radical Fish Games made to CrossCode’s PC version over the past couple of years. I’m excited that so many others are going to play and enjoy one of my favourite action-RPGs. I’m slightly jealous of the people who get to experience it for the first time.
I’ve been playing CrossCode for Switch on and off for the past week, and it’s good stuff. I had a little trouble getting used to aiming Lea’s signature battle spheres with the analogue stick on my right Joy-Con (it’s a twin-stick shooter sort of mechanic), but I’ve adjusted. It’s much easier with the Joy-Cons attached in handheld mode or even better, using a Classic Controller.
That’s it. That’s my only complaint. Otherwise it’s the same wonderful action RPG I played on the PC. The story is incredibly engaging. The ally characters are charming companions whose commentary about “real-life” matters feel like real MMO player dialogue. The 2D landscape is bustling with virtual players, deepening the massively multiplayer illusion. Deniz Akbulut’s incredible soundtrack ties the whole package together. The music sounds like it comes from a Super Nintendo-era classic, which makes CrossCode feel like a sort of retro homecoming rather than something completely new.
CrossCode comes out Thursday for consoles digitally, with limited edition physical versions available for preorder. Man, I can’t wait for everybody to play.