20XX is a new roguelike platformer that was released on August 16, 2017. It features tight platforming gameplay along with progressively more challenging combat and boss battles. Since it is a roguelike, permadeath and progress loss may turn some players off, though it does offer other mechanics that allow long-term progression despite resetting after a failed run. So far I have put ~10 hours into the game and have enjoyed a lot of what it has to offer and will be giving my thoughts about whether or not this title is worth the $14.99 price tag (spoiler alert: it is).
Game: 20XX | Release Date: August 16, 2017 | Developer: Batterystaple Games & Fire Hose Games | Publisher: Batterystaple Games
Ratings revised 2 October 2017
Please excuse the inconsistency in rating systems I use between reviews. I will eventually standardize a review system for myself, but for now, the categories change depending on what the game advertises itself to offer.
Navigating through this game is pretty simple. It offers a very clean main menu that includes a button to start the game, a few that link to community-related pages, a decent amount of options to tweak including some HUD tweaks, and the typical credits and misc. documentation tucked throughout. It isn’t overwhelming and utilizes a colorful yet visible art style that allows quick navigation without needing to put to much strain on the eyes. In-game, the inventory/equipment screens are clean and straightforward as are the other menus that contain information on items and enemies. The majority of other navigation is done in-game via a hub level that gives the player access to game modes, upgrades, online/local co-op play, and more.
The art style throughout various menus and HUD elements is very consistent and menus are stylized while still managing to be somewhat sleek, modern, and easily accessible. I don’t really have any complaints about the overall interface other than small nitpicks such as not utilizing R1/L1 on a controller to switch between tabs as many other games do. This isn’t a huge issue, but minor improvements such as that have potential to make the menus ever so slightly more intuitive.
Design / Visuals (9/10)
This game presents itself very nicely with a consistent art style throughout. It is cartoony while also offering enough detail as to make objects in the game more believable and interesting to look at. I am not exactly sure where this art style originates, but it does hold a strong resemblance to games like Brawlhalla with slightly different color pallets and style choices for backdrops and other details. It isn’t the most graphically advanced game out there, as should be obvious by its 2D cartoony models, though it is wonderful to look at. Nothing seems out of place as the team developing this game have been extremely consistent with their stylization of every item and set piece. Particle effects and other miscellaneous visuals also blend in nicely and follow the same design while not being too distracting. While not everyone will enjoy this art style, it is executed wonderfully. Some bosses and even the first main character look a bit wonky but not necessarily out of place in the aesthetic.
With a game flaunting itself as a roguelike platformer, gameplay mechanics are probably the most important feature under consideration for most consumers. I’m glad to say that there is no disappointment in this regard. Players are greeted with the main hub level that is used to navigate to different portals that are used to access parts of the game. From here you hop around on platforms to start a co-op lobby, check out challenges, or hop into a standard run. In multiplayer, connected players run around together in this hub as well. In terms of options for game types, players can start a normal run or view the various daily and weekly challenges as well as other challenges. While levels are usually randomly generated, these challenges utilize the same seed throughout and ignore any personal character progression so that all challengers play on a level playing field and compete to climb the leaderboard.
In terms of options for game types, players can start a normal run or view the various daily and weekly challenges as well as other challenges. While levels are usually randomly generated, these challenges utilize the same seed throughout and ignore any personal character progression so that all challengers play on a level playing field and compete to climb the leaderboard. Other than participating in challenges, starting a regular run will be the main way to play this game.
Before starting a run there is the option to spend Soul Chips, which are acquired by killing tougher versions of standard enemies that occasionally spawn in levels, which can purchase permanent upgrades such as an increased health cap, unlocking items to allow them to spawn in-game, or on one-time use items to start the run with. Soul Chips are fairly difficult to amass and reset at the start of a next run, so the amount of Soul Chips available to spend on upgrades is dependent on the success of the previous run. Players start a new run as either of the two playable characters: Nina and Ace. Nina is a female who uses a Mega Man-like hand mounted energy weapon while Ace is a male character who utilizes melee weapons. Throughout a run, a player will acquire buffs, weapons, equipment, and powers to use while fighting progressively more menacing enemies and bosses. There is a boss fight at the end of each level.
With explanation out of the way, here are my thoughts and feelings on playing through a run. First and foremost, platforming gameplay was executed completely right in this game. The controls feel amazing and character movement is extremely responsive. There is a bit to get used to in terms of maneuvering a character’s hitbox, but overall movement is very straightforward and offers other mechanics such as dashes or even temporary bursts of flying/hovering granted through item pickups. It feels great to speed through levels and jump through obstacles which can sometimes be fairly challenging. At later levels, even experienced players will be bound to slip-up as environmental hazards such as spikes and disappearing platforms are placed more frequently and more closely together. The main annoyance I had with gameplay overall was the knockback mechanic sometimes putting me in a position where I was forced to take multiple damage hits consecutively in order to get back to a stable platform rather than respawning the character and subtracting a set amount of health as the game does after falling off of a platform.
In terms of combat, it also feels great. The two characters available along with all of their weapon types offer enough variety to satisfy many playstyles, and powers obtained from slain bosses add extra layers of attack options that can be utilized for massive damage with each power having its own mechanics. After a few hours of gameplay and learning various enemies’ attack patterns, a player will fall into a steady rhythm of attacking, dodging, and timing powers/charged attacks that are very satisfying. Some bosses at early levels are pretty easy to cheese through by spamming powers and killing them while soaking up damage, but this changes throughout a run as enemies and bosses get tougher and areas are scattered with more and more environmental hazards as well. At certain points, there are even corrupted items available that have tremendous benefits while causing equally intense drawbacks such as a buff that gives a player +23 armor immediately while reducing their maximum health to 1, or a buff that increases a player’s damage immensely while also increasing enemy attacks just as much. Decisions such as these add even more layers to spice up a run while not being required at all. Even long-term progression buffs can be disabled for a run if a user wishes to play through the game as a vanilla character.
Overall traversal, combat, and other gameplay mechanics are presented in a very solid package and despite roguelikes typically becoming stale after a while this game’s satisfying aspects act as a great incentive to start-up another run in an attempt to defeat more bosses than before.
Edit: After putting ~11 hours into runs, the repetitive nature of the level generation really shows its faults. While the overall feel of the game is really solid, the basic sets of platforming areas that sometimes don’t lead to a chest but rather an empty platform where a chest would be do get stale after a while and slow down the pace of a run.
The music present serves as background noise to keep energy up, and that it does. So far the tracks present do sound nice but aren’t the most inspired pieces of music as they fall into the valley between energizing electronic music and uninspired electronic music that is nothing more than high energy. Some tracks are very catchy and do serve well as background music for this type of game, but the composition is nothing spectacular and isn’t on the same level as the music in more grand story-based games. Having energetic electronic music in the background while hopping between platforms and destroying bosses isn’t a downside, though, by any means.
Microtransactions / DLC (10/10)
This may change over time as there is always the potential for a business plan to change over the course of a game’s lifetime. As of now, the extra paid content available is completely resonable as the only thing listed is the option to purchase the game’s soundtrack. I am not sure at this point whether or not there is a plan in place to release paid DLC later down the line, but offering to buy the soundtrack for a few bucks and not shoving any sort of microtransaction into a user’s face in-game is very refreshing. No complaints from me in terms of extra paid content!
Overall Rating & TL;DR (~8/10)
20XX is a very competent package offering some of the most solid platforming out there and a nice difficulty curve as a player progresses further. There are forms of long-term progression that do remedy some negatives a roguelike will have in terms of drawing in new and more casual players as well while offering more streamlined and balanced challenges for competitive players. As a full game, 20XX is definitely worth its listed price as it is bound to offer many hours of enjoyment to fans of roguelike and challenging platform games as well as those looking for some co-op mayhem or fast-paced energy-infused combat.