The year is 20XX and a lone android clad in blue stands alone atop a building as the camera pans from the ground level all the way to the rooftop. Some time passes and the words "Mega Man 2" appears---wait, it's not that game? Of course, it's 20XX and the homage to one of the most classic intros to a video game is one of many featured in this fun action platformer. 20XX focuses on two Contractors, Nina and Ace, tasked to take on various threats that threaten the world on a global scale. Admittingly, there's very little in the way of a major plot outside of what fans may expect from Mega Man X, but the core of 20XX is in its gameplay.
20XX is a roguelike but unlike most that are "Metroidvania," this is largely inspired by Mega Man X. Mega Man or Rockman-influenced titles have seen an upsurge in popularity over the years, with Berserk Boy being an MMX-style game that I demoed and enjoyed. Berserk Boy isn't meant to be a roguelike, instead tapping into the more traditional level structure of the PSX and GBA era titles. 20XX is far more straightforward, as in if the player loses a life it's game over. This may seem intimidating for players as the Mega Man series was known to be some of the most difficult games to clear on a single run, much less a single life. While it's certainly possible, it's a challenge meant for those who seek it.
Fortunately, 20XX is a tad bit lenient in that it doesn't follow the Mega Man X formula. At any given time, the player can run into chests and boxes containing equipment, accessories, energy, and health items. Unlike Dead Cells, where each biome is procedurally generated, the biomes in 20XX are all randomly generated. This means while some levels may share a specific theme, all levels will be different from the previous one, and no two playthroughs will be the same.
Each run begins at a random biome and at the end of the biome awaits the boss. The bosses are also random, meaning that the player isn't expected to fight the same boss all the time as well. Each boss has a specific mechanic to follow, but like most roguelikes, simply overpowering the boss with 'cheap' strategies is just as great.
Most of the bosses have hidden weaknesses as is common in Mega Man titles where one boss is weak to another boss's weapon. The player can earn the boss's Power upon defeating the boss, which greatly helps the player's arsenal. Weapons can be slotted up to three times before the player is forced to get rid of an existing one for a new one. The same goes for armor, as wearing a different helmet will replace an existing one. Nina and Ace play as similar to X and Zero as possible, with their unique weapons referencing the weapons and abilities of both reploids.
The DLC includes two new Contractors, Hawk, and Draco, both with unique playstyles separate from Nina and Ace. Hawk uses a whip that drains energy from her foes. This not only restores her energy, but the whip also has a fairly decent range while keeping her safe. The major drawback is that she cannot swap out her whip, as other characters in the game can switch their weapon upon discovering specific chests. To counter this, Hawk has her own unique abilities that function the same as traditional weapons in 20XX, but they use energy, which synergizes well with her kit.
Draco is the heavy of 20XX, while not the fastest, he deals the most damage out of the group by default. He also has the highest starting health and having a creative kit of weapons doesn't hurt. Hawk and Draco are in various ways alternate counterparts to Nina and Ace as one is meant to be "ranged" and the other is meant to be "melee." Regardless of who the player decides to start with, 20XX is not an easy game to breeze through. This is made especially certain with the random factor as nothing is guaranteed.
However, it's because of this controlled chaos that keeps its fans on its toes. There's no way to know what's going to happen level for level, but with enough time, players can identify patterns and adjust to 20XX's unforgiving yet engaging world. Six years later and 20XX remains one of the relics of the golden era of modern roguelikes. With the sequel, 30XX, on the way, I feel we may see Nina and the rest of the Contractors very soon.
20XX is available on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.