Game: 30XX (Steam early impressions)
Genre: Action, 2D Platformer, Roguelite
Developers | Publishers: Batterystaple Games
Planned Release date: 17th Feb 2021 for PC (and in 2021 for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4)
Review code used, with many thanks to Batterystaple Games!
If there’s one thing I took from gaming in 2020, it’s that I was kind of won over by Early Access. Early Access is a scheme on Steam where developers can sell their games while in active development. There isn’t any guarantee that the game will be completed, but you get a product to play straight away. In many cases you also get to leave the developers feedback, which may help them steer the game in future updates. It’s become a general interest of mine, following some of these titles in their early stages to their final version. I was fortunate enough to be able to cover multiple games for this wonderful website and that trend looks to continue this year, beginning with 30XX.
30XX is the sequel to 20XX. The easiest way to describe these games is Mega Man meets roguelite design. Developed by Batterystable Games, 20XX was originally funded through Kickstarter all the way back in 2014, and it was then known as Echoes of Eridu. The game was funded at around $20,000, which is a very small budget for a game. Still, the game was released in 2016 and ported to basically every system under the sun including the Nintendo Switch.
The game is a 2D fast platformer. You go through randomly generated levels filled with enemies to defeat, platforms to navigate and hazards to avoid. As you progress, you can unlock more power-ups to get stronger. At the end of each level, there is a big boss battle and when completed you get the choice to take the boss’s power to use or a general upgrade. It’s a game that really lets you play how you like.
There was tons to unlock between runs as well as four characters to play, each with their own unique feel. Even when I unlocked absolutely everything, I still found myself revisiting it just for the sheer fun of the experience.
It ended up being one of my favourite roguelite titles to date and I still actively play it on Switch alone and co-op online with a good buddy on PC. Also, that soundtrack is something to behold; I often still play it when I write articles. Here comes the controversial statement: I kinda warmed to this game more than the Mega Man franchise. What can I say; I love my rogue-likes and -lites.
OK, now let’s get to 30XX. I was fortunate enough to demo the alpha version of this game before its Early Access release. The game is set in the future where the world has become much brighter and robotic. The stand-out feature by far is that the game has swapped its paper-like graphic style from the first game for a gorgeous pixel art design. I actually never had an issue with the previous art style, as the gameplay more than made up for its limitations.
30XX feels like jumping between console generations. The amount of colour onscreen and the animations of the characters, enemies, and bosses is impressive. The soundtrack to accompany the game is once again excellent. As soon as this becomes available to purchase, I’m there day one. A mix of addictive chiptune sounds and synth beats suck you into the futuristic world of 30XX.
The levels have been increased significantly in size with added elements. You still have a nice variety of enemy robots to take down and plenty of jumping and dashing to do across various platform segments. The controls feel smooth and fast. Most levels now feature sub-bosses who will drop upgrades when conquered. You can also collect two types of crystals. Between runs these crystals can be used to make permanent upgrades, like health and energy, as well as unlock new abilities to find in future runs.
You get to choose from two characters, Nina and Ace, the protagonists from the first game. Nina favours projectile weapons, while Ace is more melee-focused. Both have a charge attack to deal extra damage and can make use of a handy dash move to help you zip around the levels. With two different gameplay styles, it gives plenty of incentive to replay the levels again. But I expect more characters will probably become available as development progresses.
A massive stand-out feature for 30XX is the level editor. This time around, gamers can dive in and create their own wild and wacky levels and then share them. There’s an excellent tutorial to get you started with the basics.
If you’re a fan of level creation then I can see this being a mode where you can sink hundreds of hours into creating horribly difficult levels or possibly telling someone you love them. You can place terrain, the enemies, as well as adjust their paths. The choice is yours. If you are into your level creators, this game may be worth looking into for this option alone.
Being in Early Access, 30XX is far from complete. At the moment, there are only a few levels and upgrades available. It looks like over the course of the year we will see more levels, upgrades, as well as NPCs added to the main hub world.
The version of the build I played had no online features, but the developers are promising to bring this to the launch of the Early Access version. The game is planning to release on all the major platforms in the future. But if you want to support it right away, head over to Steam and give it a look. The game does not require a high rig PC to play. In fact, the developers once made a funny joke that the game could run on a toaster.
30XX looks to build on everything 20XX did but with more content, gameplay features, and a level editor that’s well worth looking into. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this project as the year progresses.