Not even ten minutes into the long-awaited DLC for CrossCode, titled A New Home, I found myself crying. Watching Lea return to the in-game MMORPG CrossWorlds — seven months after being forcibly logged out by Instatainment, the MMO owners — and being greeted by her friends with hugs and banter touched me and caught me off guard. It reminded me of the time I spent playing Final Fantasy XIV, the friends I’d made through the game, and how wonderful the larger community was to me. It turns out I still craved the warmth that playing with friends online gave me. A New Home feels like coming back to play a game with some friends after a long absence, but it also made me realise how much I’d missed CrossWorlds.
While Radical Fish Games have been updating the game with free patches over the last two and a half years, A New Home brings with it the most significant changes. Set after (and only accessible after) beating the game, the DLC brings new areas, a new dungeon, plenty of new bosses, and closure to Lea’s story. I don’t want to spoil anything, but A New Home answers many of the questions that persisted after I first beat the game. There are even a few surprises thrown in at the end. Some things still feel low-stakes, with many events happening off-screen. Even so, I was happy to see characters like Emilie and her disappointment at the lack of a laser bridge in the new hub area, Homestedt, or Apollo, who, yes, is still obsessed with duelling Lea.
The DLC also does a fantastic job of tying up the in-game story of CrossWorlds too. Parts of the story feel like updates to an actual MMORPG; there’s a patch to implement the final dungeon into the game during the DLC, and when it goes live, crowds gather and wait for the dungeon to open. Most importantly, you get to finish the Raid from the main game, at long last! These were some of my favourite parts of the main story, and finally getting the satisfaction of finishing it evoked the same kind of joy as when you finally beat a dungeon or an instance with your friend. And all of the friendship, bickering, and banter that comes with playing with your guild friends is perfectly recreated here.
I’ve already mentioned Homestedt, a relatively small hub area with shops, but even existing places are touched up. The end-game city of Rhombus Square has a beach area, and there’s an entirely new location called Azure Archipelago bolted onto the side. Full of challenging and unique enemies, this sandy oceanfront escape is adorned with gorgeous pink coral and intricate flora, greenery, and rocks, and it looks beautiful. It does feel comparatively smaller to Sapphire Ridge and Gaia’s Garden. It’s just a simple loop of screens, but this didn’t stop me from spending hours grinding there and admiring the beautiful pixelwork. And there are a few new tracks (now included on the additional EX album) composed by STEEL_PLUS, who worked on One Step From Eden‘s soundtrack. The selection is small, but they fit into the game well, especially the fantastic arrangement of “Mysterious Place,” called “One Last Trial,” to suit a demanding boss encounter.
Then comes the meat of A New Home, the final dungeon of CrossWorlds, Ku’lero Temple. When the developers tell you that this is “probably the biggest dungeon of the whole game,” then you should believe them. I spent nearly half of my 13 hours with the DLC in this dungeon, but if you’re familiar with CrossCode‘s temple dungeons, this probably shouldn’t surprise you. Ku’lero’s design challenges your knowledge of everything Spheromancer, from physics puzzles to magnets, soundwaves, bubbles, and steam. The Temple is essentially multiple small dungeons packed into one giant one, with puzzles that increase in length and difficulty as you progress. But you can save at any point, and there are multiple checkpoints throughout, making it easy to leave the dungeon, take a break, stock up on items and return to the section you left on.
I can’t think of a marathon of puzzles that have made the cogs in my head churn this much for a long time, maybe even since I covered CrossCode the first time. There were times where I thought my brain was going to melt, usually because I looked at a puzzle room and a white screen fell over my eyes. The puzzles have a way of making you want to overcomplicate them, but the solutions are often more apparent than they seem, and all of them feature some incredible design. The sheer thrill from solving one of these rooms is always well worth it. These puzzles are the wrinkles that make CrossCode what it is, and I love them. But if you’re struggling, Assist Mode was patched into the game shortly after its release so that you can slow the puzzle speed down.
If there’s one area the DLC struggles in, it’s the boss battles, especially throughout the Temple. The mini-bosses are rotations of either a giant elemental knight who is resistant to attacks from the front or elemental totem poles. These were very annoying to deal with, involving multiple retries and sheer luck. Because you fight them repeatedly, they also get very boring very fast. That also includes the final gauntlet before the last challenge, where you fight multiple mobs and knights in a row, and if you die at any point, you have to start from the very first knight. It takes away from figuring out the conundrum of figuring out a boss’ weakness and even feels like a slog. Even the final trial rivals the main game’s final boss for sheer length, without the complexity of that original Ultimate Experience.
In reality, I fell in love with this DLC because of how it reintroduced me to CrossWorlds, and how it made me feel like a returning MMO player. Like Lea, I have been away from CrossCode and CrossWorlds for a long time (since it was released!), so re-entering the world with Lea, showing a character with amnesia around the game to jog their memories, also helped me re-immerse myself in the game. These NPCs who can accompany me, bicker with each other like friends playing online together, laugh and complain together, compete with each other in dungeons, log off, and reaccept each other after arguments, brought back so many good feelings. I had been worried about coming back because I thought I’d forgotten too much, but as I met all of Lea’s avatar friends and started re-exploring the world and adjusting to combat, those fears dissolved, and I felt right at home.
A New Home is the perfect name for this DLC, not only because of the new home that Lea gets within CrossWorlds, but because MMORPGs are precisely that to some people: a new, digital home away from home. It’s a coincidence that I happened to re-subscribe to FFXIV the same week I played through this DLC, but A New Home has helped ease any anxieties I may have about coming back and reminded me of the warmth that playing games online with friends can make you feel. The fact that it’s the same excellent CrossCode gameplay with more puzzles to grind my teeth over for hours, no matter how frustrating, is just a bonus.