Simulation games come in all shapes and sizes now. For every traditional sim such as Farming Simulator or Hunting Simulator, we get niche entries like Lawn Mowing Simulator, Riot Control Simulator or Tank Mechanic Simulator. Click the links, these are real, actual games coming out. Crossroads Inn is another simulator but with a twist; one that throws you into running a successful tavern in a medieval setting. Just because things aren’t modern, doesn’t mean that people don’t get thirsty.
After releasing on PC back in 2019, Crossroads Inn arrives on Xbox consoles with much of the post release content in the one package. Interestingly enough, it has a lengthy campaign with a real ‘rags to riches’ story. The king of Yorevale is dead from suspected heart disease. Unbeknownst to a young man and his uncle, their inn is about to become the centre for the succession of the king.
In the campaign, your uncle is leaving the inn in your hands, but not without some training. Firstly, you must prepare for an upcoming wedding to be held at your establishment. You will meet a colourful cast of characters, but not all of them will have your best interests at heart.
There is a very, very lengthy tutorial that helps you get to grips with some of the basic features in Crossroads Inn. However, it will also gloss over a lot of important details that will be left for you to figure out yourself. Perhaps most annoyingly though is that after finally completing this tutorial, due to the nature of the story, you are essentially tasked with doing it all again in a new establishment where you start from scratch.
You will need to take charge of all related tasks when running your inn; not just decorating the place. As well as keeping you patrons’ tankards full there is a kitchen to keep stocked, floors to sweep, an onsite brewery and outhouses to clean. This version of Crossroads Inn is based on the Enhanced Version on PC which includes several additional content packs. These allow you to breed animals, build underneath your establishment and beautify the amenities.
Much of these new additions won’t be necessary during the campaign mode, but there are Sandbox and Scenario modes where these will come into play. In Sandbox mode, you select a difficulty you wish to start at, and are then given complete control over what you do in your inn. The difficulty will also dictate how much fame you start with, your coinage and how many objects/recipes are unlocked from the start.
Scenarios are self-contained missions that don’t quite fit in with the main campaign. Or at least, this is what I am guessing they are. After a list initially appeared when I first played the game, every subsequent loading up has meant the list of scenarios has completely disappeared; none can be selected.
Missing scenarios are just the tip of the iceberg unfortunately. Even playing on an Xbox Series X I have encountered some horribly unacceptable loading times. It can take upwards of two minutes just to get to the main menu, and the same amount of time again when first starting the campaign. Thankfully loading in a previously saved game improves this somewhat, but barely.
And then there is the UI and controls, which feel like there has been hardly any effort put in to modifying them for console. There are absolutely no button prompts on any menu, meaning you need a lot of prior knowledge of a controller and which button typically does what, the map can only be moved by dragging the cursor to the edge of the screen, and object placement is simply too finicky when having to wrestle with the camera on the right thumbstick at the same time.
In terms of these issues, it is one of the worst ported games I have ever had the misfortune of playing.
And let’s talk about those graphics for a moment. There is a unique charm to them, eventually. Initially, the game looks like it was made on a potato: characters have about three different moves for all of their actions, the draw distance is pretty abysmal and it is very much all ‘original Xbox’ era. But they did grow on me, and I began to appreciate their charm after a while.
This is all really a damn shame, because Crossroads Inn has some quite novel ideas. There are five different types of patrons and you can choose to cater for them or not. Decorating your inn for only one type will anger the others, but it means there is less chance of bar brawls taking place. There is also a World Map where you can select different building types; banks can offer loans, neighbouring towns and villages are available to trade with, or you can even advertise your inn in some of the bigger towns.
The campaign itself – as generic as the story is – has also a really interesting feature. You can interact with recurring characters and have a choice between various responses. It’s a basic conversation tree, but your success with responses are based on how often you use them. But if you are successful you can increase your stature with characters and the various types of inn dwellers.
Unfortunately, there are some glaring issues in Crossroads Inn on Xbox that prevent it from being recommended in its current guise; notably that it’s not suited to a controller and is badly optimised. There is a roadmap planned for the rest of this year with new expansions and patches that hopefully fix the issues such as console optimisation and even the missing scenarios. But as it stands, it is best to avoid this one.
You can buy Crossroads Inn from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S