Title: 20XX Released On: August 16, 2017 Genre: Action, Platformer Reviewed On: PC Developer: Batterystaple Games, Fire Hose Games Publisher: Batterystaple Games MSRP: $14.99USD/$19.99CAD
Having played 20XX as it evolved through Early Access, I’m pleased to report that it has improved by staggering leaps and bounds. It has turned into a truly fantastic game, and has become one of my favorite side-scrollers in recent memory. Boasting the tried-and-true Mega Man-styled action platforming formula mixed with rogue-like elements, 20XX promises to be a great experience from start to finish.
The game follows Nina and Ace (and later DLC character Hawk), armored robots wielding energy weapons in the aftermath of a robotic uprising. Traveling from their base on the Ark — an orbital space station — they are hired by a scientific organization to clear out dangerous locations that are infested with robots that have run amok. The story is told through small stop-motion animated cutscenes peppered throughout the game, but they don’t really convey the narrative very well. It’s debatable if that is really a huge issue considering that 20XX is all about the actual gameplay. This really isn’t anything near what you would call a story-driven game, so the story taking a backseat to the game’s other elements almost seems appropriate.
20XX plays very similarly to many action platformers, specifically drawing inspiration from the many Mega Man and Mega Man X titles. Nina and Ace both have unique primary weapons: an Energy Buster for Nina and an Energy Sword for Ace. Both of them are able to charge their primary weapon for a more powerful blast or strike, both can cling to/jump up/slide down walls, and both can perform a dash to speed through levels.
Before each run, you spawn in a hub area. Here you can purchase permanent upgrades and items using Soul Chips you collect from special enemies and bosses. You can easily swap between characters as you please here as well, and easily accessible portals lead to various daily and weekly challenges that record your score/time to the constantly updated leaderboard.
During your randomly generated playthrough, you will traverse through 10 different stages, each with a boss and tons of obstacles to overcome. The first 8 stages are the usual ‘Robot Masters’ stages, while the last two are in the final ‘fortress,’ once against eliciting memories of classic Mega Man titles. In each level, you fight you way through various landscapes, collecting nuts (currency), spending them on upgrades (Attack Up, Movement Speed Up, Max HP+, etc), and collecting Armor Upgrades to beef up your characters. To get the Armor Upgrades, you can either buy them as they appear in the random shops, or earn them in special Glory Zones. These zones present you with a specified challenge, such as defeating everything within a time limit, or reaching a specified point without being caught by pursuing enemies.
There is no limit to the number of upgrades you can get, and multiple copies of the same item stack their effects endlessly. However be careful with some, as they can make it harder to control your chosen character depending on the upgrade (Movement Speed Up comes to mind). Other items to collect are Tokens, which allow you a spin on the slot machine for possible random items and upgrades. These are hidden in some levels, usually before a boss.
This game looks like it would feel right at home on the SNES or even the Sega Genesis. While it does look somewhat like a flash game, closer inspection reveals that things are more detailed and better animated than your typical flash title. Nina and Ace are both well designed and look great on-screen blasting away at enemies. Each stage has a unique look and feel, and each boss is very well scripted and animated. I love the overall presentation of 20XX, as it really invokes the classic action-platformer feel, only in a more colorful manner.
The game’s soundtrack is composed of chiptunes and synthesized tracks that continue to evoke the same nostalgia for SNES/Sega Genesis-era arcade games. Each tune is very upbeat and full of action, and I absolutely loved all of them. I’m glad the option to buy the game in a bundle with its soundtrack is available for just a few bucks more, because this is definitely a soundtrack that will follow me on future adventures.
The game runs beautifully; I observed a full 60FPS the entirety of my playtime, even with a lot of action on-screen during a Hardcore run. 20XX has full controller support, and I would go so far as to say that a controller is HIGHLY recommended. The default controls are well implemented, but can also be reassigned to fit any player’s tastes. They are very tight and responsive, and should present little to no issues for the average player.
Offering plenty of challenge, rogue-like elements, and good ol’ action platforming, 20XX is one of the better Early Access success stories in recent years. If classic arcade platforming with a rogue-like twist sounds like your perfect dungeon dive, 20XX is most assuredly the game for you.
Final Score: 9.5/10
An absolute gem of a game, 20XX is a fantastic rogue-like action platformer in the same vein as the classics it takes its inspiration from.
The review copy of this game was a digital code provided by the publisher.