Title: 20XX

Platform: Steam, Windows

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Rougelite, Action Platformer

Players: Single player, Local & Online Co Op

Written by Bad Demoman 15th August 2016

So its 2016, we’ve still got 84 years left of “The Year is 20XX” jokes left. It’s definitely looking like Capcom don’t want to make much use of that, as the closest we’ve had to a legitimate Megaman game in recent years was either the fan-made but officially endorsed Street Fighter X Megaman, or the disappointing hype train that derailed to become Mighty Number 9. However, if anything's proven that inspirations of the past can be a fantastic means to revitalize a formula, it's the Indie gaming scene. Taking a Roguelite spin on the Megaman series, Batterystaple games released 20XX onto Steam Early Access almost 2 years ago. With the full release seemingly closing in (Update versions are now up to the 0.9 region!), now is the perfect time for anyone with doubts to hop onboard for the Early Access!

It seems an odd fit, to turn Megaman, a series well known for its fantastic level designs, to translate into a procedurally generated perma-death game. So it’s important to distinguish that while 20XX definitely wears its influences on its sleeve, it’s NOT a new Megaman game. Few games can truly live up to how incredible of an experience your first playthrough of a classic Megaman are, and thankfully 20XX isn’t looking to best that experience, but to create a new one. Having said that, as most procedurally generated games do 20XX builds levels from a pool of elements - Certain level types can be expected to contain certain things. As a result, the level design is great in a genre where that’s almost impossible. It really captures both the methodical, careful gameplay of the classic series, as well as the speed of the X series.

Once you're familiar with a stages elements, blitzing through it feels all the more satisfying - sure, you don’t know the stage off by heart, but you understand the components of it. You get the feeling of flawlessly executing a stage, without that feeling running dry like it would on your millionth playthrough of a set-in-stone game. Having said that, there's only so many stage elements in the 20XX’s box of tricks, and so stages can get an odd feeling of Deja Vu at times. But given that I’ve seen a fair few new stage elements added to the game in my short time playing it, that’s far from a damning issue.

Two characters are available to play, Nina and Ace. Nina is your Analogous X Character, with a ranged arm cannon, while Ace has a beam saber like a certain edgy red robot that doesn’t know what he's fighting for. Given that each character has their own weapons, a variety of other weapons strewn about stages to try out and plenty of different items that affect the way your character plays, 20XX has a lot of replay value. Item variety isn’t quite Binding of Isaac, where items can completely change how your attacks behave and as a result, how you play the game. It’s more comparable to an RPG-esque system, where items generally just increase your stats, or maybe give you a minor passive. It won’t make every single run a totally different beast, but you will have different strengths and weaknesses between runs. Some runs may leave you quite weak, but incredibly agile meaning a rush to the boss is the best options, whereas another run might have you ridiculously tanky with plenty of sustain.

One of the main draws to 20XX for me is that it actually contains Co-Op, both online and local. Whistler and I previously did a “Co-Op” run of a few different Megaman games, swapping the controller after every stage or death. So the idea of real, Megaman-esque Co-Op was an instant point of interest. Thankfully, the game works great as a co-operative experience. While it obviously lowers the difficulty a fair bit, it’s still not a stroll in the park, and additional difficulty modifiers can be added to compensate. The two playable characters different strengths and weaknesses can be overcome by a little teamwork, or you could double down on it and both play the same character. The sharing of resources and decision making with items to get and strategies to take offer a simplistic, but all the same enjoyable co-op mode.

20XX offers something new to its clear inspiration. Rather than being a simple rehash of the old formula, it builds on the nature of a Megaman game and pulls it off with flying colours. I know that Mighty Number 9 has at this point been harped on quite enough, but it speaks volumes to me that 20XX is a considerably more enjoyable game than one helmed by an old-time veteran of the Megaman series. 20XX is definitely worth your time in its early access state, with a reduced price during its early access and so much content it feels like a full game. Even in its late state of development there are constant updates. If you're a fan of Roguelites, Megaman or even just a great sidescrolling action experience, you owe it to yourself to check out 20XX.


Bad Demoman


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