I’ve written a review on this game before but back then I had only played a measly two hours before I gave up. This time, with a bum (sprained) back and therefore unable to venture into the outside world, I decided to challenge myself to finish the game, no matter how long it took. And boy oh boy did it take me a while.
45 hours of game time later, I’ve finally completed 20XX after a cop-out (I switched to Revenant mode), two near-misses and one unresponsive game. I almost gave up too. But the satisfaction was worth it. Kind of…
If you haven’t played any Mega Man game (yes, including the X series), I highly suggest you change that quickly. There’s still time before Mega Man 11 gets released. As a matter of fact, you could even start with this game right here: 20XX – a near-perfect roguelike homage to Mega Man X. It has the same perma-death, upgrades and loot system that every Mega Man fan knows and loves. Sprinkled with fresh ideas like randomly generated levels and an online multiplayer co-op option (local too), Batterystaple Games and Fire Hose Games really hit the nail on the head here.
You have a number of characters to choose from, some are homages to the Mega Man series of characters and some are original characters the developers created. Nina and Ace are tributes to X and Zero while Hawk and Draco are the brainchildren of Batterystaple and Fire Hose, with completely new play styles and weapons. The latter two come free with console versions but sadly PC players will have to get them as paid DLCs. The game features the same perma-death, upgrades (Augs) and loot systems that you’d find in Mega Man, but with their own twist. Loot consists of nuts (in-game currency), health or energy refills which you’d find aplenty in their Revenant (easy) and Normal difficulties.
All their levels are randomly generated and you’ll almost never get the same run twice, either the levels themselves change or the enemies that come at you change although the boss battles only differ depending on when you decide to fight them. But, with six bosses and only 3 variations of levels, you may get a bit bored after a few runs. There will be times where you’ll be faces with some shitty obstacles that could potentially ruin your otherwise great run and honestly, I have no idea how I could maintain being so stubborn to complete my challenge.
However, their levels do become more and more difficult the later you’re in the game. And let me tell you this: some are a lot tougher than others. I’m looking at you, Twin Astrals. You two can go to hell. Hot tip: if you can, finish them and Rollster Beta as early as you can. To me, those two bosses are the worst to go up against later in the game and trust me, Level 3 onwards it can get tough. Another tip: buy HP upgrades every time you can afford them.
Another new concept the devs had brought to the table is choice. At the end of each level you can choose between getting a boss ability (which you can only pick three in total), nuts or an Aug. You can only pick one and at first, this is possibly the most difficult part of the game.
The game is very keen on rewarding speedrunners. Finish a level under a certain number of minutes (depending on your difficulty) and you’ll be rewarded with a bunch of loot and maybe even an Aug. In my 45 hours of gameplay, I’ve come to appreciate these rewards more and more as time went on. I could go on for ages and not see a single health drop, so the top-up after a boss fight definitely kept me going for longer.
Something else I’ve noticed while doing this challenge is the “VERY SAFE LAB” that pops up every now and again. Inside, the music turns dark and a big, red, distorted hologram greets you. One and only one Aug will sit in this room and if you haven’t guessed it already: it’s bad. With its extremely vague description, you honestly never know what you’re up against. That Aug you see in the photo drained every ounce of strength in my poor Nina and rendered her blaster completely useless. Best of all? I don’t think it gave me anything in return. Unless you like living on the edge, I’d recommend you AVOID ALL THESE SUSPICIOUS AUGS!
Going back to something I said earlier, I mentioned that 20XX is “near-perfect”. Being over a year old, the game still has a lot of devastating bugs to fix, one of which being the occasional failure in generating a playable level. The other is the bugs that I’ve come across which in all honesty, almost definitely was the cause of my giving up. There were various occasions where I didn’t get a chest after a boss battle and somehow lost my speedrun reward chest as well, although I was well within my time. You would think after being in Early Access for so long that these sorts of kinks would have been ironed out, but alas that isn’t the case.
Despite the kinks, 20XX is still a highly enjoyable game for those who like challenges or looking to play a Mega Man-esque game with a friend via their co-op mode. Though if you’re interested in the latter, I would recommend getting one of the console versions (read: Switch). If you’re prone to rage quitting, maybe avoid playing it unless you’re into that, you masochist, you.
20XX was released August 2017 on Steam, July 10 2018 for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, and July 11 2018 for Xbox One. I bought the PC version myself during the 2017 Steam Winter Sale, but was given a review code for the Nintendo Switch by the game developers Batterystaple Games and Fire Hose Games.