I love games. But rarely do I find a game I truly love. Crossing Souls is one such title, and as a child of the 80s, it may be pandering to my nostalgia and love for pop culture, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Set in 1986 California, but made by Spain-based Fourattic, Crossing Souls is a love letter to the era of Spielberg and Lucas. There are more sly references to 80s culture (games, comics, movies, music) than I can count, but none of it really feels forced. All of it is wrapped into an excellent science fiction adventure about five friends and a fight across universes and time to keep the world from falling apart. With an incredible soundtrack and absolutely perfect pixel art, Crossing Souls is a cannot miss title. This is our Crossing Souls review for the PC.
The tale of Chris, his little brother Kevin, their genius friend Math, their strongest friend Big Joe, and the tough as nails girl Charlie, Crossing Souls touches on everything from Stand By Me to Back to the Future, Battletoads, Skate or Die, Streets of Rage, Ghostbusters, ET, Prince, Michael Jackson, Public Enemy, and so much more. It’s a lot like Ready Player One, but without the misogyny and predictable writing or VR. Something about the culture references all fit together nicely here, and the fact that it’s a top-down action adventure in the vein of Zelda makes it instantly endearing.
You’ll swap seamlessly between characters with the press of a button, as each of them has their own skills and strengths. Joe is the strongest, and probably the best all-out fighter, but also the slowest. Charlie is the agilest, has a killer whip, and Math has a laser gun that’s great for ranged battles. Chris is the only one who can jump and climb and wields a baseball bat really damn well in a nod to Stranger Things and possible Robert Redford’s the Natural.
The first hour or so of Crossing Souls is available in demo form, and it sets up the intro to each of these characters, the story, and how they come across the Duat Stone – a sort of mystical relic that allows the kids to travel between the world of the living and the dead. It just so happens that an evil madman and his henchmen also want the stone, and the poop hits the fan soon after the kids stumble across it.
If there’s one fault I could point to in Crossing Souls, it’s that as a linear game when it’s over you won’t find much reason to go back. And while it’s not overly long, I actually felt sad when I completed the adventure. I wanted more of these kids and this universe, and I really hope Fourattic follow up with a sequel should the game get the success it deserves. Every so often, the game cuts away to an 80s style cartoon scene that tells more of the story. When the kids make a device to hold the Duat stone, it goes all Real Genius. When you complete the intro and the game begins proper, there’s a suitably epic opening credits scene.
These little touches not only further the 1980s vibe, but they also give the excellent synth soundtrack room to breathe. I dare you not to be enraptured by the theme song for Chris and Kevin’s neighborhood in the opening hours. I want this soundtrack in my ears, all the time, like a worm from Wrath of Khan, but not painful.
Bullet hell shooters, dungeon crawls, car chases, quick-time events, epic boss fights with puzzles to solve, and a story that will make you laugh, cry, and smile as you remember your youth – this is Crossing Souls, and it’s now become one of my all-time favorite games. It ain’t perfect: some bugs UI usability issues pop up, and translation and localization gaps exist (1980s American kids wouldn’t call chips “crisps”), but it’s damn close.
I mentioned earlier that the replay value is a bit low, due to the linear nature of the game, but truthfully Crossing Souls may still be a game I revisit when I need to be comforted by the sheer joy of its characters, world, references, and music. Fourattic clearly loves the era as much as many of us do, and it shows. For all its references, the callbacks to different pop culture events never feel forced. Crossing Souls is a helluva fun ride, and a game I’d strongly recommend to anyone with a love of He-Man, coin-op arcades, and bitchin’ synth tunes.