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20XX Review

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On 08/03/2018 at 10:43 AM by Nick DiMola

Just one more level...

If you’re looking for a new Mega Man X-like experience and don’t want to just play the existing games via the collections, you can’t go wrong with 20XX.

20XX, despite being thoroughly inspired by Mega Man X, manages to distinguish itself by throwing away a good portion of that formula for something much more chaotic. The team at Batterystaple Games has managed to recreate the feel of Mega Man X, in both its control and enemy design, but mashes it into a roguelike design that includes randomly generated levels and temporal upgrades that are gained and constrained to your given run through the game. Each pass you’ll encounter different power ups, approach bosses in a different order and apply different approaches to make your way through. Level and boss design, as well as their relative challenge, will even vary based on how deep into a run you are. Progress can be slow, but somewhere along the way, 20XX will get its hooks into you and you’ll be unable to resist the pull of taking on another level or starting up a new run in an effort to make it to the end.

Like most roguelikes, 20XX is challenging, even in the normal difficulty setting. You’re going to die in your trek to complete 20XX. A lot. At first it’ll be early in the game and eventually it’ll only happen towards the end... aside from those one-off runs where you completely embarrass yourself and accidentally bite it in the first level. Not that that ever happened to me… but you know, it happens, to people, sometimes…

As a veteran of the Mega Man series it was both easy to jump into 20XX, but also disorienting because you can’t rely on your muscle memory. No matter how many times you run through a given level, you’ll never be able to lean on just knowing its construction to avoid the many obstacles and pitfalls. Raw skill is what’s required here. Though there are recognizable chunks of levels that do repeat (which you’ll start to notice after enough runs), there’s enough variation to the entire composition that you’ll always have something fresh to figure out and work through.

How well you do in the run will also have a lot to do with what you’re able to pick up along the way. Power-ups can have an enormous impact on how easy or hard the run is. Some will allow you to perform mid-air dashes or hover for two seconds. Others increase your movement speed, health, damage, energy, etc. You’re always on the hunt for boxes placed around the level, nuts that allow you to purchase upgrades at shops, or Glory Zones where you can complete a challenge for a reward.

However, there’s a risk-reward system with most of these. Boxes are often in precarious positions on side paths, where you can sustain a lot of damage in an effort to improve your stats. Glory Zones can absolutely decimate you if you’re careless or get a particularly tough one. At all times, you need to be watching your health, because there’s only one life in play (in the Normal mode). If you lose too much health attempting to power-up, you can kill your run. You can also buy health with nuts, so even purchasing power-ups might be at the sacrifice of not fully refilling your health.

You can also stack the deck in your favor by collecting Soul Chips. Certain flashing enemies will drop them and beating bosses will reward you with some (as well as their power, just like Mega Man, or an alternate upgrade). These can be spent between runs in the hub world to permanently change the game world. Boxes will show up in different levels in the run, or you’ll start with more health and energy. New power-ups can also be unlocked that will start showing up in runs. All of this makes it easier to push through to the end. You can always turn these upgrades off, for the extra challenge, which is a neat touch (though, seriously, who’s doing this!?).

Another nice touch is the ability to play as either Nina (X) or Ace (Zero). I found myself mostly playing as Nina for her ranged attacks. Ace makes you get up close and personal and I was not seeing a lot of success in that approach, but for players who enjoy the Zero gameplay, Ace will be perfect.

Augmenting the main gameplay mode are a variety of challenges that are daily or weekly that will grade you on time and score. It’s basically more of the same, but there are leaderboards that might give you the drive to keep playing and perfecting your skills. Finally, there’s a co-op mode that can be played with a local friend or someone else online. I wasn’t able to get a co-op run going online, so this might only be a selling point for those who have someone to enjoy the game with at home.

Needless to say, I enjoyed my time with 20XX. It’s so easy to do a run, fail, spend your Soul Chips, and jump right into another go ‘round. I found myself always just playing through another level, even when it was late and I needed to stop. You want to best it and the gameplay loop is super satisfying and fun. But depending on what you want out of the game, this might not be for you. You’ll be seeing the same bosses over and over. The levels will be different every time, but that might not be enough variety to keep it interesting. And, of course, being a roguelike, the deck is really stacked against you, especially when you first start the game. But if you can get over all of that, an extremely satisfying experience is contained within 20XX that will keep you coming back for just one more try.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Super Step Contributing Writer

08/03/2018 at 11:31 PM

Stop making me want things, you evil man.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

08/05/2018 at 12:01 AM

I saw this on the Xbox store and thought it was one of those crappy clone games like you find on the app store. Nice to know it's solid.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

08/05/2018 at 11:48 AM

Graphics look fucking great!

Cary Woodham

08/05/2018 at 10:57 PM
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