In this day and age, the arms race between consoles is all about the best graphics. In some instances, the story and sometimes even the gameplay falls short. Due to this, a lot of great looking games have mediocre stories, while other games suffer from various types of gameplay issues. To a lot of gamers, however, if the game isn’t much fun to play, the beauty of the ingame world is irrelevant. In this way, this is where indie games truly shine. One such game is 20XX, set in a post-apocalyptic world, a roguelike action-platformer developed by Batterystaple Games and Fire Hose Games.
20XX is a game that both looks and feels like a classic Mega Man game, so fans of the old franchise can jump in and feel right at home. The player can play as one of two characters, Nina and Ace. Both characters have different playstyles and weaponry, allowing players to choose based on their own preferences. For players who prefer to keep their distance and play a little more defensively we have Nina, who uses a powerful blaster similar to that of Mega Man.
For more aggressive players like myself, Ace is the character to choose. Armed with an energy sword, Ace is equipped for fast paced melee action that lets you get up close to your enemies. Using his energy blade, you can hack and slash your way through all the minor enemies in the level in a short amount of time. The downside however, is that his close range weaponry makes boss battles more difficult, whereas with Nina you can slowly pick away at their health from afar.
Both characters are extremely agile, and using the speed boost and double jump abilities make you even harder to hit, as well as allowing you to reach areas you couldn’t normally reach. They also possess a dash ability that gives them a quick boost for getting past enemies and jumping over wide ledges.
The graphics in 20XX are great with bright colors and clear to see enemies. However, when it comes to the environment it can occasionally be difficult to be able to tell if something is part of the level such as a wall, or if it is merely a part of the background. This has caused me to jump and fall of the map more times than I’d like to admit, but once you fall for it a few times you catch on pretty quick. Each map is procedurally generated, meaning no two will ever be the same.
Each level’s enemies vary from long to short range, as well as some that fly and even some that roll. Each enemy is unique in both how you dodge their attacks and how to defeat them. This is especially true with the bosses. Some bosses have additional minions with them to harass you as you’re trying to defeat the boss, while others prefer to fight alone but have more dangerous abilities that can cover the entire battle area. Upon defeating each boss, the player is given the choice to either obtain an upgrade or take the boss’s power.
The player is then allowed to have a maximum of three different powers equipped, each one being assigned to a different button that can be swapped out at any point. Each time you use one of these powers, it uses up one dash from your energy bar, and once it is completely drained you cannot use them again until you have replenished it via small energy balls that drop from defeated enemies. Smaller ones replenish one energy, while the larger orbs replenish several. The player can also replenish their health in multiple ways, either by collecting small and large health drops, or by trading in bolts at the vending machine, which grants you one health per bolt and can only be used a limited number of times. The main weapons are able to upgraded using the same bolts to purchase augments. Other upgrades can also be gained via treasure chests and by beating bosses.
Lastly, the game has multiple difficulty settings to choose from, allowing you to decide how relaxing or challenging your playthrough is. On easy mode, the player gets three lives, meaning you can lose a total of 2 times before you are forced to start over from the beginning. On normal mode, the difficulty isn’t any higher, but the player only gets one life, so there is no chance to continue if you are defeated. Whether you prefer to play more casually or in a more ride or die fashion, the game is sure to be enjoyable.
If you’re a fan of side scroller games, or if you’re a veteran player from the days of classic Mega Man, then this is a perfect game for you. The gameplay is smooth and movement is fluid, however there was a slight lack of explanation as to how to play, resulting in a trial and error learning curve to grasp the controls. Once you get past the minor nuances of learning a new game, 20XX is a really enjoyable game to just kick back and relax with.