Pardon the dust!
This page includes some jargon that hasn't been added to the site's glossary yet. I'll be around to fix this later, but sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.

Review: 20XX

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
While there are many great games out there, this is one manages to be good fun and stay fairly true to Christian moral values.

If you're looking to add a new game to your collection, consider this one!

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Ages 6 and up
Genre: Platform Shooter
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2017
Reviewed Version: 1.42.12
Review Published On: April 7th, 2021
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

The results of a run are saved* automatically when you win, lose, or quit the run. To save* during a run, you'll need to beat the current level's boss* and use the save station found before the portals to the next level.

To pause the game, view your inventory by pressing ESC*.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Much like the games that inspired 20XX, the majority of the game is spent fighting and destroying evil robots that threaten humanity.

Screenshots

[view screenshot]
Nina's N-Buster allows her to keep out of range of enemy attacks.

[view screenshot]
Avoid the bats, and win a prize!

[view screenshot]
Hawk can use powers more freely than the others.



Game Overview

If you're a fan of a certain blue robot or any of the series that spun off from his adventures, the title of this game should look very familiar. 20XX is the fictional future year in which the Mega Man franchise takes place, and the reference is entirely intended. 20XX is very heavily inspired by the Mega Man X series -- so much so that I'm a little surprised that they didn't get sued into oblivion.

The basic idea behind 20XX is to take the fun and challenging gameplay of the Mega Man games and mix it up with ideas from the Roguelike genre. For example, you still have eight evil robots terrorizing the world, and you'll still be able to steal their powers after defeating them. However, you don't have as much leeway in choosing which boss* to fight next, and (as per usual for Roguelikes) each level is generated randomly from a pool of set pieces.

Since each playthrough is unique, you can't plan very far ahead or predict what upgrades will be available. In fact, many of your early attempts will be hindered by the lack of available upgrades. While you can find upgrades in chests, earn them as rewards from special rooms, or purchase them with bolts you've collected during a run, you first need to unlock* them by purchasing them with Soul Chips. Soul Chips are hard to come by, as they only drop from special, rare enemies. You also lose any unspent Soul Chips when you start a new run, so spend 'em while you can.

Another thing worth mentioning is that there are multiple playable characters. From the start, you have Nina and Ace, who are essentially expys of X and Zero from the Mega Man X games. In other words, Nina specializes in ranged combat, and Ace is your typical melee fighter. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, so everyone has their favorite.

You can also unlock* two additional characters, Hawk and Draco, buy purchasing their respective DLCs*. These characters not only have different playstyles, but they also have some additional abilities that make them stand out. Hawk plays somewhat like Simon Belmont from the Castlevania series, as she uses a whip as her primary weapon. The trick with her is that her whip allows you to steal weapon energy from enemies, letting you use your fancier secondary weapons much more often than anybody else. Draco is a close range fighter like Ace, but he plays like someone out of a Street Fighter game, throwing energized punches and uppercuts as his primary attack. If you play him well, he's easily the strongest playable character in the game.

Other features of note include co-op* multiplayer, multiple game modes, and an entire library of lore and things to collect. I can see this game keeping a Mega Man fan going for some time. Unfortunately for me, I had some unusual problems with this game (as in, some form of vertigo or motion sickness), and don't think it would be healthy for me to continue playing it.

Points of Interest

Adjustable difficulty
Not everyone is an expert at playing video games, so 20XX gives you the option to dial things back a little if you want an easier game. The Revenant setting gives you three lives* instead of one and makes the enemies* slightly weaker, but the trade off for this is that you can't earn achievements* during that run. Defiant mode is this game's hard mode, with stronger enemies* and such. However, you also have the option of adding "skull modifiers" in Defiant mode, which alter the game's rules to make things even harder.
Multiple game modes
In addition to the standard game mode, there are several optional challenges to choose from. These include daily & weekly challenges, which use predefined seeds to ensure that everyone is facing the same level designs and boss* arrangement. Completing these challenges can earn you a place in 20XX's leaderboards*, so you can compete with other players for the best times.

Alternatively, there is a "Rush Job" option, which is essentially the game's boss* rush mode, and if you're not interested in playing a truly random set of levels, there's an option to give provide the game with a specific level seed.
Challenges and treasures
Most of the items you'll find during a playthrough are purchased in shops or found in various boxes scattered throughout the levels. However, you'll occasionally run across doorways to "glory rooms", which test your skills in a number of different ways. If you successfully complete their task within the time limit, you'll be rewarded with an item or a "core augment"; a body armor upgrade like you'd find in the Mega Man X series. In addition to changing your character's appearance, these augmentations provide new abilities, such as double-jumping or a reduction in weapon energy usage.

Much less often, you'll find doorways leading to a "very safe laboratory". The prototype augments found in these rooms are a double edged sword: their benefits come with a price, and the costs may easily outweigh the benefits. Choose them wisely.
Steam community features
There are fifty achievements* to earn while saving* the world from crazy robots. Many of them involve beating the bosses* at their most difficult level (ie, as the last boss* of a run) or playing through the game with specific skull modifiers enabled. Endless mode also offers you a few special achievements*, such as reaching level 16, 25, or 40 in this long game mode. A few also hint at possible spoilers for the end game, so perhaps you should wait until you've completed the game once before checking them out.

Also, there's a set of Steam trading cards* available, if you enjoy collecting those.
I had some weird problems with this game
On one hand, I don't want to leave this as a negative or a reason for people to avoid this game. On the other hand, since what happened was tied to playing this specific game, I feel like I should mention it.

Basically, while I was playing 20XX I felt fine, but once I stopped and closed the game, I'd become incredibly disoriented. As in, too brain fried to safely navigate a room, pour a drink, or butter some toast. Considering I have no issues with Beat Hazard 2, a game that literally has the tag line of "embrace the seizures", I don't know what's going on here or how to work around it, and that's kinda scary.

So far, 20XX is the only game I've encountered that causes this, so while I liked the game, I'm setting it aside for my own health.

Concerns and Issues

Mild to moderate violence
The vast majority of this game involves blowing up non-sentient robots, so there isn't any blood or gore. The closest you get to graphic violence are exploding robots and the debris that flies away. Even your characters don't face a gruesome death in the levels; they simply poof into a spiral of energy when defeated. Sort of like how Mega Man dies in his games.

But, this isn't always the case. At certain points in the game (such as when you lose or reach a certain stage) there will be a short cutscene* where the scientists who hired Nina and Ace press a button and something bad happens to them. They could explode, be ejected into the vacuum of space, or get covered in paper confetti. That Big Red Button is a bit unpredictable.
The dark truth
Chances are, you'll have figured this out long before you manage to beat the game for the first time. While the story tells you that you're playing as a contractor who has been hired by a pair of scientists, the way they treat you suggests otherwise. And there's a reason for that -- you're actually playing as an advanced robot prototype being tested via deadly simulations.

Eventually, the "heroes" will need to turn on the scientists for their own survival. This is the only point in the game where you face living opponents. Defeating the scientists and destroying their space station ends the charade, with everyone free to live their own lives* on the world below.
Body horror
Since Nina, Ace, and company are actually robots, it's understandable that there were some less than successful trial runs before their current model. During your final ESCAPE* from the scientists' space station, you'll find a number of these broken and misshapen failures flailing around in apparent agony. The main point behind this appears to be to hammer home the fact that the player characters are just AI* programs in a robot shell, and not really people.