The days slowly go by in the newly settled colony, in the faraway northern lands. The guards drowsily watch the road, looking for raiders. The peasants work the fields. The woodcutters bring the lumber from the nearby forest. A group of miners is busy searching for gold in the southern hills.
The things seem peaceful enough, so far. Yet, many still remember the devastating orcish raids, that left many a field without an owner. While some still mourn the death of one particularly fearless knight, killed by a vicious pack of giant savage mushrooms. The lands are still wild, and largely unexplored.
It’s easy to blame the careless adventurers for stirring up trouble with the locals. Yet weren’t it their courageous excursions that allowed the settlers to discover that rich gold mine a week ago? This distant realm is full of peril, no doubt – but also of opportunity. And wasn’t it said, long ago, that Fortune favors the brave?
Gameplay and Mechanics
No Crossroads, really, isn’t that complex. The main mechanics are very basic. There’s just enough here for a simple colony-builder, with some nice RPG features. Everything is very well-crafted, though. It’s really easy to quickly get into the game’s unique rhythm of exploration, mixed with resource management.
That’s not to say that the game isn’t challenging! There are plenty of dangerous enemies, roaming the wilderness, always ready to welcome the foolhardy explorers. While the various supplies – of which there are four types – do tend to run out just when you need them the most.
A wise ruler would be careful to exercise great caution in attempting to expand their territory. The brave adventurers would do well to curb their thirst for battle and don’t anger too many evil mushrooms at a time. While a guard or two would go a long way towards ensuring peace and prosperity for the workers and the peasants.
The RPG Part – Heroes and Foes
The RPG elements constitute a large part of the gameplay. The combat is turn-based and grid-based, in a classical style. Just as all other components in the game – it’s rather basic. There’s just enough variety to keep things interesting, and allow for a few different tactics and party compositions.
There are three, very distinct, types of heroes. It’s all fairly traditional RPG stuff. There’s a knight – strong and tough, great for melee; an archer to defeat the foes from a safe distance; and a bishop to heal the wounded. The game is well-balanced, so each type is equally useful. There are also semi-static guards – great for defending the settlement.
Now, about the enemies. For the most part, they, just like the heroes, come in three varieties. The orcs; the evil mushrooms, called the Fungie; and the bears. They all have about the same strength, it seems, and aren’t that hard to defeat unless you stumble upon a large group of these.
The Base-Building Part – Workers and Peasants
Just as with the RPG part – the base-building component is very straightforward. There are four types of resources – each of these is gathered by the workers at specific tiles. There are also peasants, who can be placed on any empty tile to continuously generate food. Finally – there’s a king, who does nothing, other than expand the gathering zone.
I already mentioned the guards, right? These are extremely useful, being noticeably stronger than most types of enemies. Great for defending the base – especially in the beginning. The only drawback they have is the fact that they are unable to explore, being limited to the king’s influence zones, just like the workers and the peasants.
By the way – there’s also a simple upgrade system in the game. The workers, as well as the heroes, can be improved at the cost of some resources. It’s relatively useful, I suppose, though I have often ignored it during my plays. I think this is certainly one area in which the game could’ve been, well, upgraded.
Atmosphere – Art and Music
Those who’ve read my previous articles should know that, above all else in a game, I value the atmosphere. No Crossroads definitely succeeds in building a unique, yet simple and charming aesthetics. The pixel art is very basic and low-resolution. Yet, there’s just enough detail, that it stands apart, somehow – and is very easy to understand.
While the soundtrack is rather short, it perfectly fits the overall mood. The main melody sounds almost ballad-like, with its slow – yet powerful chords on some string instrument and the striking drums, that call you to join the adventure. Certainly something you’ll want to listen to, even outside the game.
The interface, while basic, is still stylized to better suit the atmosphere. It has that simple wooden look to it that I could absolutely associate with the early colonists. No complex decorations – just a simple floral motif adorning the corners of some windows. Certainly sets the mood. Well done!
UI and Settings
More on the interface. Even a simple game can be made completely incomprehensible by the UI. In No Crossroads – it’s the other way around. Even those things that are difficult to master – like keeping track of the many resources – here are absolutely streamlined and require no effort to manage.
All the expected elements are present here. The health bars, the floating damage numbers. All the important information is displayed in a clear and efficient manner. The only problem is that the view is always really zoomed-in. This makes things hard to keep track of, especially when you are exploring far from the base. Not sure why a zoom option isn’t present.
No Crossroads can also be played in a window or full-screen – a nice feature, especially in an indie project. Furthermore, there’s a browser version that, as far as I can tell, works as flawlessly as the downloadable one. The only difference, I think, is the inability to save when playing on the website – not that big of a deal, really.
No Crossroads runs extremely well. I’ve encountered no bugs or any other issues of that sort. Whether played in browser or on the computer – there were no problems, whatsoever. The game remains absolutely responsive and the animations perfectly smooth, even when there’s a lot going on the screen.
And there certainly is a lot going on, at times! The supplies are being gathered, the heroes are battling some mushroom menace, the guards are fighting off an orcish warband. The game gets very complex very quickly, even though it’s still completely turn-based. This is another reason why a zoomed-out view would be much appreciated – there’s a lot to manage here.
To summarize – it’s that type of game for which you really don’t need the most powerful modern machine. It should run great on almost anything, I think. In addition, it is turn-based and grid-based. So, even if you do encounter any problems along the way – these are very unlikely to greatly affect the gameplay.
So – by this time it should be clear that the game is rather basic. Yet, it still offers a unique and engaging gameplay, a well-crafted UI, and a charming aesthetics. It also feels very polished, with very few, if any, bugs and no performance issues. Finally – it’s free on itch and can be played both in browser or on the computer.
All in all – I think No Crossroads is a good game to try if you are looking for something you can quickly wrap your head around. Yet, with enough tactical challenges to keep you interested for more than a few hours. There’s just enough of everything here to make for a truly fantastic experience – not more, but definitely not less.
Thank you for reading! Bye!