Monday, 19 September 2016

20XX review - A worthy successor of Megaman X?

20XX logo

20XX (previously known as Echoes of Eridu) is an indie game developed by Batterystaple Games and Fire Hose Games published by Batterystaple Games. What is this game about? Well you have two playable characters, one with an energy sword the other has a chargeable N-buster cannon. They can jump on walls, dash, kill bad guys, fight some bosses at the end of the levels and get the bosses' abilities... Wait... it sounds familiar...

20XX - Mother of bullets!
That's bullet hell for you!
Well yeah, it's obviously a Megaman X clone. Mighty No.9 was unfortunately disappointing after years of waiting and many delays. But here is an alternative. So what about 20XX? Well it's awesome!
It's not just a game that you complete once and never touch again. It's a rogue-like platformer with random level generation, lots of items, surprises and fun! Each runs are very different and that randomization gives the reason to play it again and again and again. And it really plays like Megaman X!

20XX - Perforator Alpha
A cute looking boss! Loving this description!
Hint: you'll hate this guy!
When you start the game you don't have access to too much items on the levels. You can get soul chips from very tough glowing soul foes and when you die, you can use them to unlock items, making the progress easier. Items are great. You can get extra movement speed, jump height, more damage, armor parts that gives you more mobility or other special abilities and there are weapons too for both characters. You can buy items in shops spending your nuts... yeah, that's what they're called. Not rupees, not gold... nuts. Well I mean like a wheel nut! Before you think about something else.

20XX - Very Safe Laboratory entrance
Entrance to the laboratory that offers an item for free that may screw up your run. Choose wisely!
The game has a good variety of enemies and there are 8 bosses and 4 different type of levels. The boss fights are very enjoyable they get stronger on later levels. Don't except an easy fight against a boss you fought on level 1 on later levels! They get some extra tricks, lot more HP and some get faster! Killing things are very satisfying!

20XX - Sky Temple
Sky temple. Maybe it looks like heaven, but it's actually platforming hell! Well, they can be completed without movement upgrades, but be careful! Also, this level can be super fun! And the music is awesome!
Obviously there is a limited amount of items to unlock and when you finished the normal game it could get boring. But there are the so called skulls, I call them modifiers or mutators which can make the enemies stronger, levels longer, or increase the game speed to 150%! Of course there are tons of these skulls and you can activate more than one so the number of possibilities are huge! In recent updates it became possible to use seeds to generate level which I really missed previously.

Arch enemies: spike. But don't worry, in this game they don't kill you instantly. In this game, most things reduces your HP by 1... except in some special cases...
Also what I love to come back for are the daily and weekly challenges. They are great competitive score based modes where you really need strategy, precision, fast decision making and of course, not to die. Both has normal and hardcore mode. Hardcore enables three skulls. They are extremely difficult!
On daily challenges, you have one try. If you die anywhere, it's over, no retry. Weekly challenges give you a whole week to try again and again and there is no daily limit. You can develop strategies, learn from mistakes to improve your score. In scoring time, killed enemies, and many other things count.
You can check the leaderboard for your place, also you can check out previous results too.
Thanks to these modes I have 85+ hours in this game. I can't stop playing it! Also there is local and online cooperative game too! Local is one screen and uses zooming to see both players. It works really fine most of the time. You can go far from each other without major problems. Online may have some sync issues (especially with moving platforms) but it is even mentioned in the menu it's in a very alpha state right now. But still very playable, and fun! You can do any of the game modes in multiplayer, including the challenges, they have separated co-op leaderboard.
Also I must note, the game's difficulty is just right... in casual and normal modes at least.

20XX - item screen
Getting all the same armor parts gives you extra abilities! Rare moment, but when it happens, it's fantastic! Can be a true game changer!
The controls of the game is fantastic. Very responsive, the boss power usage is cleverly done. You can have up to three powers unlike in a Megaman (X) game where the number was 8. But here all powers can be used with different buttons so you can immediately use what you need. The powers are very different and can be handy in different situations.
You can edit the controller settings, reassign buttons, set deadzones. I found the game well playable even on keyboard, but you'll need to find the right settings for yourself. On Xbox 360 controller it's truly great.

Sound effects are satisfying, and got better and better as the game was developed. The music is catchy and retro. Fits to the game really. Stucks in your head!

The graphics were my complaint at the beginning when I got the game on Steam. I kinda wished it was pixelart, but instead it uses high resolution 2D sprites. Kinda cartoonish with very smooth skeletal animations. The artwork wasn't that good, but it improved a lot and I think the game looks really pretty in its current state. It's detailed enough, runs well, it doesn't need a powerful machine to play with. Runs at 60 FPS even when there are tons on enemies on the screen. Loading times are short too.

20XX - shop
It's time to go shopping!
This game is the real deal. We finally got a fantastic Megaman X game. While it lacks in story (it has one intro cutscene and that's all), the gameplay itself is almost perfect. And the replay value is strong with this one. Also don't forget, it's an early access game currently at version 0.961b. Changes, additions are expected as the game is updated biweekly!

In overall 20XX is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for the fans of rogue-likes / platformers and especially for Megaman X fans. It's a fantastic game. For only €14.99 on Steam, it's a must buy! Don't miss it!

Feature list:

  • Megaman X style gameplay
  • 2 characters: Ace (Zero) and Nina (X)
  • Random generated levels
  • Lots of items
  • 8 bosses
  • 4 different areas
  • Game modes: Casual (starting with a few items), Normal, Boss rush and seeded runs
  • Cool retro style music
  • Responsive controls
  • Local (one screen with zooming) and online cooperative multiplayer (for 2 players)
  • Daily and weekly challenges with leaderboards
  • Frequently updated (biweekly)
  • Hours of fun!


Wishes for the future...

I love the game as it is! But I would love to see some extra contents. (Am I greedy for wishing for more?)
I would like to see a final level for the game after defeating the 8 bosses. And of course a final boss. Something great, menacing and somewhat randomized on different runs. I can imagine something like Sigma's final form from MMX and that kind of boss could be randomized easily with different weapons.

The normal bosses are fun and well done, but I wish there was some subversions of them with some palette swap / hue shifting, size randomization, modified patterns and attacks. It would be even better for the endless game mode skull. I think it would be the cheapest solution rather than designing more different bosses.

Also maybe there could be additional items and locations. But even if it has only 4 different level designs, it is always different due to the randomization, so it's fine.

I also would love to see a trophy room kind of thing that shows your results of daily and weekly runs. Getting medals for ending in top 3 would be great. Now it's just... you can see your results in the leaderboard and that's it. Of course it's still satisfying to finish at high places.

Since it's a Steam game, I wish it has achievements. Don't know if they'll be added, I hope so!

More story elements would be nice. Nothing fancy actually.

I don't think the game needs much more of developement other than these. Netcode could be better but I'm sure it'll be improved. In overall, it's an almost complete so called Early Access game. It doesn't feel like it. It's mostly polished and great.