Review: 20XX (PS4)

Review: 20XX (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: 20XX
Format: PSN (5.88 GB)
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Fire Hose Games
Developer: Batterystaple Games / Fire Hose Games
Original MSRP: $17.99 (US), £12.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
20XX is a roguelike action platformer, easy to learn but hard to master. Even as someone who never really got into the Mega Man series, it’s not hard to see where Batterystaple Games got their inspiration. The controls are tight and they’ve nailed the platforming but after a few runs, I switched to using the D-pad. Unfortunately, everything else leaves something to be desired.

Having procedurally generated levels is one of those things that has to be dialed in or it sticks out. With 20XX I’ve found that there are platforming sections that lead to nowhere with no chest or items at the end. Multiple times, I was stuck on a platform with only one way to go and an enemy standing there waiting for me. I had no way to proceed without taking damage. These things certainly don’t ruin the game but they can be frustrating.

The real bummer is how quickly each level theme feels repetitive. The levels are not that long and they’re mainly comprised of a few set pieces. Where they are within the level and the sequence between the set pieces changes, but not enough.

The first boss I beat was a penguin with rockets for legs. Since it was early in the game, I had the basic gun and could only shoot left or right. I had to quickly get into position to fire at him while avoiding the icicles he fired at me, all while making sure I was out of the way when he zoomed across the map. It wasn’t easy, and I learned from the first time I had faced him that some patience would be required. It felt great when I defeated him, triumphant even.

Review: 20XX (PS4) Review: 20XX (PS4)

The next time I fought him, I had an upgrade where I would always start the first level with a chest that contains a weapon modifier. I had a three split bullets modifier and was able to shoot straight with two other bullets that angle thirty degrees up and down. He was too easy as position in the boss arena no longer mattered. I just stood in the corner firing and then ran to the other corner and fired.

The battle wouldn’t have been the same with a four way shot modifier, still much easier though. One of the characters named Ace has a sword which does more damage. When I played as Ace there were a few bosses that, with the right modifier, I was able to stand next to attack over and over again, not moving. Of course I was taking damage but with the modifier I was easily dealing more damage.

A boss fight should never take less than thirty seconds. Batterystaple Games borrows too much from the Mega Man series for them to decide that after a few runs boss fights should be trivial. I’m sure as an indie studio they did the best they could – the platforming alone shows how much work they put into the game. Being able to choose the next level theme and boss fight means the player can simply match their modifier to the right boss and exploit its big weakness.

The upgrades are an important part of any roguelike but in 20XX they quickly became frustratingly expensive. Luckily, there is an easier mode which gives the player three lives in a run. Still, in the end there are not enough permanent upgrades to give the game long legs. None of them provide any real change in gameplay either.

Review: 20XX (PS4) Review: 20XX (PS4)

Visuals:
20XX is a smooth looking game. Each boss has a unique level theme with different mechanics, but the levels could use more eye catching details. After a run or two in each level, my eyes focused in on the platform edges and everything else blurred together in the background.

Audio:
The soundtrack is great and the energizing music almost instantly reminds me of the chiptune music of the Mega Man series. Fans of that series are sure to feel instant nostalgia.

Online/Multiplayer:
20XX has online and couch co-op but there was no one looking for a online game with a random person the few times I tried. It’s probably for the best, as nuts are a shared resource and should not be spent carelessly.

The good news for those looking to play with friends is that when your friend dies your run does not end. For better or worse, from my limited time with co-op I didn’t notice a difference in difficulty to account for the second player.

Review: 20XX (PS4) Review: 20XX (PS4)

Conclusion:
Most roguelikes are hard and 20XX is no exception. At first, I was caught in the cycle of “I hate this game”, “Okay one more run”, and finally “This game is awesome”. Unfortunately after a while it never swung back around to awesome. There are two different characters with their own playstyles, but the permanent upgrades are too few and boring.

Despite my ultimate disappointment with it overall, there’s still a decent game for Mega Man fans and others looking for a challenging platformer since the platforming controls are tight and feel great.

While I found the game fairly light on roguelike elements, the procedurally generated levels, Defiant Mode difficulty option, and daily and weekly hardcore challenges should provide hours of fun for anyone craving a challenge.

Score:
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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