I’ve had the indie game Crosscode in my backlog for awhile. I grew up playing the Super Nintendo so I’ve always had a soft spot for the 16-bit era games and that’s the style Crosscode is going for.

The only reason why I hadn’t played it yet was because I heard the ending wasn’t finished and I was waiting for them to release the post game DLC so I could get the full experience all at once. That’s usually how I prefer to play games, just wait for all the DLC to come out and then play the complete package all at once.

Well that DLC came out a little while ago and I jumped right in. I finally finished the game and my feelings are very mixed. There’s a lot things the game does incredibly well and there are a lot of things I absolutely hated.

Let’s start off taking a look at the trailer:


CrossCode screenshot

The Good

The Graphics and World

The graphics like I mentioned before are done in that 16-bit style and it looks like a modern SNES game. Basically the graphics are awesome. The world is very detailed and the character sprites look fantastic. There are also great little pixel art portraits for every character..

The world is divided into different regions like an autumn forest area, a desert, a snowy mountain, a jungle, etc. and all of them look fantastic and are a joy to run around and explore.

CrossCode screenshot

Combat and Gameplay

The general gameplay when you’re running around these overworld areas is fantastic too. The closest thing I could compare it to is Secret of Mana for the SNES.

Combat is action based and you have two AI controlled characters that do their own thing. You have melee attacks, skills and ranged attacks and skills.

The ranged attacks is another thing the game does very well. With the right analog stick you can aim energy balls and fire them at enemies from a distance. You can also charge these shots up and when you fire them they’ll bounce off walls so you can angle your shots, bounce them off walls and hit targets you otherwise wouldn’t be able to hit.

Solving puzzles where you have to bounce these charged projectiles around the environment happens a lot and is generally pretty fun and well done.

When attacking you have 4 different elements you can switch between: Fire, Ice, Shock and Wave. Each of these has a separate skill tree with different stat upgrades and will add that element to your attacks. Different enemies have different elemental weaknesses so you need to switch between these a lot. It’s a fun system with a major problem I’ll get to later.

CrossCode screenshot

Difficulty Options

The game has a series of difficult options that you can fine tune however you want which is actually pretty neat. The game is actually pretty hard in a Dark Souls hard but fair kind of way but you can dial down the enemy attack power, attack frequency and give yourself more generous timing on the puzzles.

The Music

For an indie game CrossCode has a pretty fantastic soundtrack. Some of the tracks reminded me a lot of Secret of Mana which helps give the game that sort of feeling but overall there’s a lot of great and unique music.

The Temple of the Lake music is probably my favorite song in the soundtrack and I highly recommend you check it out. It’s even worth purchasing.

It’s a pretty large soundtrack too with over 60 excellent pieces of music.


CrossCode screenshot

Things that are Just Okay

The Story

The story in the game isn’t bad. It starts off as a general sort of person stuck in an online MMORPG .hack sort of story but does go some interesting places.

The game your character is stuck in isn’t a computer game though, it’s a physical place in the world kind of like a holodeck in Star Trek. The game didn’t do a great job explaining how all this worked and for most of the game I kept asking myself whether or not this was a computer simulation or a real place and if certain characters were real humans in the physical space or just NPCs in the game.

There’s a pretty decent cast of characters that grew on me over time. At first I kind of hated everyone especially how they talked and behaved. I’ve played a lot of MMORPGs and none of the characters acted or talked like people would when playing a game like this.

But the characters grow on you and by the end of the game you get to like them, especially for the big final team-up moment at the end. That part hits pretty well.

The villain’s motivations are kind of dumb but it’s not a huge deal.

At the end of the game you get offered a side quest and if you don’t complete it you get the bad ending. The bad ending doesn’t add anything to the game at all, I just watched it on YouTube so there’s no point to not do the quest and get the good ending. The game even prompts you to make a save so you can see both endings but there’s really no point.

CrossCode screenshot


The game is mainly divided into two sections, the overworld combat and exploration and dungeons.

Exploring the world is a ton of fun at first. There are chests hidden everywhere and little puzzles to solve to reach them.

Over time however this gets old pretty fast. The areas get way to huge and you end up having to travel through multiple sometimes even 3 or 4 different maps to get one secret. The result of this is you basically see a chest and then try to trace the route back past how ever many screens it takes until you find the entrance to the secret path. Then you follow it all the way back to the chest. If you screw up you have to start from the beginning.

I started out trying to find every little secret and found most of them in the first area (minus the ones that require you to come back later with keys you get later in the game) but by the third area I was done and just gave up on finding secrets.

By then I just ran through the areas trying to reach my objective which is too bad because traversing these areas is a lot of fun, especially since you can break plants in each area to find items. Think cutting the grass in a Zelda game but more fun.

CrossCode screenshot


I was really impressed with the dungeons in this game at first. They’re like more cerebral Zelda dungeons where you’ll have puzzle rooms, combat rooms and find keys to open doors. You’ll find a map and a master key to get to the boss as well.

The puzzles are not bad either and each dungeon has a different elemental theme that factors into the puzzles. They start out simple and build on the concepts you learn and give you gradually more and more difficult puzzles as you progress through the dungeon.

Overall I liked the dungeons a lot but they’re too long and boy will we ever talk about how things are too long in the next section.


CrossCode screenshot

The Bad

The Length

So the major problem CrossCode has is that it’s just way, way too long. My final game time was around 55 hours and I actually barely touched the post-game DLC since I’d had more than enough by that point.

I started out exploring everything and doing the combat at the full regular difficulty and by the second area I started turning down the difficultly and started exploring less.

By the time I was halfway through the third area I dropped the combat difficulty all the way down and gave up on exploration completely. This is the area where you start having to navigate through 3 or 4 maps at a time to just reach one chest.

I mentioned turning the difficulty all the way down too and it’s not because the fights were too hard it was because they took way too long. Running through one map you might get into 5 or more fights with groups of enemies and each fight would take like 5 minutes and I’m not exaggerating that.

I mentioned liking the dungeons too but those are also way too long. A single dungeon would take me hours to complete. Dungeons 3 and 4 are a bit shorter and if every dungeon was that length I might feel a bit different but probably not much.

The puzzles like I mentioned before are great and do a good job of building up in complexity but there’s just way too many of them. By the time I hit the fourth dungeon I was completely done with bouncing charged projectiles around corners that I just looked up a guide and blasted through the puzzles as fast as possible without thinking.

So many of the puzzles require you to have very tight timing where you for example fire a shot and then run to a different location and hit a switch to let it pass through. Stuff like that. Turning down the puzzle difficulty was supposed to give you a wider window to do these but I didn’t notice any difference.

There were a ton of times where I knew exactly how to solve the puzzle but because I wasn’t fast enough or standing on the exact right pixel I’d fail the puzzle and have to start over.

The main take away here is that everything starts off really great but the length turns everything into a huge slog, ruins everything and it just stops being fun. If the game was say 20 hours long I’d probably have nothing but praise for it.

CrossCode screenshot

Combat Problems

There are also some major problems with the otherwise excellent combat.

First, the game has that sort of Secret of Mana overhead view and you can hit the enemies all around you. Some enemies however will either burrow under the ground or fly up into the air and then you can’t hit them. They can still hit you but you have to wait until they get back on your level for a second.

Then you’d better hope you can stun them immediately otherwise they’ll just jump out of your range again. The fights already take way too long and this just needlessly prolongs them and makes everything way more frustrating.

There’s also a major problem with the element switching system.

Your attacks can either be neutral or one of the 4 elements. Since enemies almost always have an elemental weakness and you’re stronger when using an element there’s pretty much no reason why you wouldn’t be using elemental attacks.

However when you use them you build up an overload meter and when it maxes out you hit “Elemental Overload” and you can’t use any elemental attacks until it cools down.

A tutorial near the beginning of the game seemed to suggest that switching to neutral mode and then attacking would help cool that down but I didn’t notice any difference.

There’s really no point to avoiding the overload state either. It cools down on it’s own at pretty much the same rate it does if you hit that overload state. So basically you just attack until you overload and then you just can’t use elemental attacks for a while.

Maybe if they implemented a system where you had to switch between elements to avoid overloading or something like that but there’s nothing like that here.

I even tried looking up solutions online to see if I was doing something wrong and nope, that’s just how it is. Having to wait for your elemental attacks to cool down when fighting certain enemies that only have one weakness is yet another thing that drags combat out longer than it should be.

CrossCode screenshot

The Platforming

My final major issue with the game is the platforming.

One major problem here is that since the game takes place with a top down view it’s very difficult to determine what level of cliffs you can jump to. And usually when you’re doing platforming it’s because you’re running along a long obstacle path towards some kind of secret, often across several maps, and when you miss a jump because you couldn’t tell that the destination was a different height you have to start all over.

There’s also no jump button which is incredibly frustrating. Instead you jump by running at an edge, kind of like you do in Zelda Ocarina of Time. It’s tolerable in that game because there’s no complex platforming challenges but there are a ton here.

There are even quests where you have to jump across tiny platforms while dodging projectiles all under a short time limit. I gave up on those really fast because they’re just too frustrating.

Trying to make precise jumps with this sort of system is almost impossible.

CrossCode screenshot

Performance Issues

I played CrossCode on a very high-end PC and for some reason had all kinds of slowdown issues where pretty much any time I entered a city or if I’d been playing for a while the frame rate would drop considerably.

In the cities there was just nothing you could do. The other situation you could fix by restarting the game.

Since the game is basically just 2D pixel art I have no idea why this would be an issue. Searching for a solution just found people talking about the problem and that there apparently wasn’t a fix which is too bad.


CrossCode screenshot

In Conclusion

My main issue with the game is that it’s way too long. Like I mentioned before, I was waiting for the post-game DLC to come out before I played this and I barely touched it and opted to just watch the final ending of the game on YouTube.

If the game was around one third it’s length, maybe around 20 hours and they trimmed down all the overworld areas, dungeons and made the combat less tedious we’d easily be looking at a score of probably around 9.5/10 because what it’s working with is just that good.

There’s just too much of it and the tedium just destroys what love I had for the game after a while.

It may be worth picking up and slowly picking away at the game bit by bit or just playing for a while to recapture that SNES era, Secret of Mana type gameplay feeling but other than that the length really does hurt the game so much that I can’t really recommend it.

Which is too bad because there’s a lot of really excellent stuff to love with this game.

Screenshots from Steam used under Fair Use