20XX Review

Roguelike action platforming in a very familiar setting.

The year is 20XX, and we have long waited for a super robot to make a comeback, old-school style. This time it is not Capcom that wants to reminisce and relive the experience of the past, instead it is the indie developers from Batterystaple Games. 20XX serves almost as a tribute to the famed Mega Man series, that had its glory days in the earlier decades.

In 20XX you play as Nina, a robot armed with blaster, or as the energy sword wielding robot called Ace. Your mission is to clear locations around the world infested with robots running amok. Sound familiar? Good, the because best way to describe the game concisely is to imagine a Mega Man X-game, that you can play cooperatively with two players online or offline. Everything that made Mega Man-franchise famous in the first place are here, the superb controls, tight and action-packed gameplay, great boss fights and classic chiptune music.

However, this does not mean that 20XX does not have anything new to bring to the table. Its greatest aspects are the roguelike elements of permadeath, randomized item drops and buyable equipment between and during each run. This means that the difficulty of newly started game is at its hardest at the beginning of the first run. After a while the difficulty curve starts to gradually even out as you save credits to buy weapons, gear and power ups to make longer runs possible.

 

These roguelike elements coupled with map generation, that is partially randomized gives each play session a different flavor and forces you to strategize your run on the go. 20XX gives you a myriad of choices each time you play from selecting what boss to encounter next, what power-up to pick up and what stat to boost, for example. All these choices make the game feel fresh and give replay value to a game that is rather short. Runs that I have played with my friend took at maximum one hour or so.

This leads to the downsides of 20XX, of which the biggest one, perhaps, is the shortness of the main campaign at only 10 levels. Even though the level layout is bit randomized every time, I yearned for more levels to play. The second problem of 20XX is the balance of difficulty. The game starts at a very high difficulty, then after a while the normal levels and bosses get way too easy in comparison to the last two boss levels, which seem ridiculously hard at first.

In the indie game community, the common consensus has been innovation and new fresh ideas, that are usually lauded. However, there is a saying that if you are going to copy a well-known concept, you better do it well enough or preferably better than the original. In this case 20XX is a good example of taking a classic concept, giving it an own twist and tying it with familiar franchise nostalgia to make an enjoyable experience.

8

Developer: Batterystaple Games

Publisher: Batterystaple Games

Platform: PC

Release date: 16.8.2017

Genres: Action, platform, roguelike