Okay, okay, let’s get this out of the way up-front. Yes, I know there’s a Stranger Things game already. But that’s a mobile game, and from where I’m sitting, they don’t really count unless they’re Plants vs. Zombies 2. Seriously, that’s about the only mobile game that’s grabbed me for long periods of time (along with its predecessor), where everything else has felt… cheap or like I have to pay to get past certain sections.
Maybe Stranger Things: The [Mobile] Game isn’t that; after all, it’s got a pretty awesome rating on Google Play. Regardless, I’m here to talk about how you don’t need to worry about that because you can just play Crossing Souls instead. It’s a bit slow to start—granted, that’s from the perspective of an impatient gamer—but what it lacks in pace out of the gate it more than makes up for in the kind of 1980s references that’ll drag you right back into your childhood. That’s assuming, of course, you’re of the relevant generation that gets all of the ’80s references.
Gameplay is definitely on the easier side of things, as developer Fourattic seems more interested in taking you through the nostalgic hit and its pitch-perfect ’80s storyline than providing a side of challenging gameplay. Pick any of your favourite movies from the ’80s that involve kids and adventure, or any recent revivals of the same formula, and that’s basically Crossing Souls. Starting out, you gather a gang of five kids with different abilities as it relates to platforming proficiencies and combat.
Like, the kid with the baseball bat who can also climb stuff. He has blue hair for some reason. Then there’s the nerdy kid with a ranged attack and (limited-use) rocket boots. The bulky one who can soak up damage and dish it out in equal measures. Then the sassy one with a whip. Finally, there’s the little brother who doesn’t appear to be great at a whole lot except having a nose for trouble.
When I first looked into Crossing Souls and saw the words ‘Action’ and ‘Adventure’ in the genre tags on Steam, I thought this was going to be more Thimbleweed Park than old-school Zelda. But it’s definitely more the latter (minus ‘pesky’ RPG stuff) and a whole lot less the former. It’s got the whole pixel-art thing going for it during gameplay, and speech is relegated to text boxes.
Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot going on with the text, and I found myself skipping through it quite a bit. What it lacks in punchy dialogue it more than makes up for with the sparse use of ’80s-style cartoon cutscenes. These are awesome, and the soundtrack is a big part of what makes it feel like it’d be right at home as a classic ’80s action-adventure game, albeit with the right amount of contemporary touches that make it playable today.
Crossing Souls isn’t ground-breaking, but nor is it trying to be. It achieves what it sets out to do: offer a 21st century take on some iconic 1980s games and movies. More impressively, there’s a pretty dramatic moment that happens early on in proceedings—that I won’t spoil here—and it’s handled with the right kind of poignancy without feeling out of place. Despite a relatively short campaign, Crossing Souls isn’t the kind of game I feel compelled to finish in one hit. But I am enjoying experiencing the 1980s game world and subsequent nostalgia hit during my shorter-length play sessions.