30XX is an upcoming action platformer from Batterystaple Games currently in Early Access; fashioned in a roguelite style where stages are randomized, and very few things are kept in the case of a death.
To put the game more succinctly, 30XX draws heavily from the Mega Man X series for inspiration. Side scrolling, boss power stealing, sliding, all of it’s here.
Players can choose one of two characters; Nina is a typical shooter equipped with a normal buster type gun. Ace uses a sword and has a boomerang technique that costs energy with a limited range- an important feature, as some enemies are downright impossible to kill without getting hit at sword range.
Both characters learn new fighting skills from defeating enemies, though they’re different depending on which character. Ace can also acquire new weapon styles. which change his basic attack and his ranged technique.
For instance; there’s a hammer weapon that has a wide arc, large damage, but slow attack speed. His technique changes to a thrown hammer in an arc instead of a boomerang blade. He can also get small knifes which he tosses in a rough cone in front of him. His technique changes to a short range wall of blades right in front of him.
What sets 30XX apart from Mega Man and makes it more of a roguelike is how basic attributes can be upgraded. After each miniboss and from certain treasure chests, equipable or permanent upgrades can be found. Buffs to base speed, a double jump, or increased armor drops off enemies are all available.
Some of these equipable buffs require a commitment of cores. Cores are the equipment slots of 30XX, and prevents the player from hyper-optimizing their equipment. For example; the arm slot equipment to make charged shots destroy bullets takes a lot of cores. Thus, it cannot be equipped with a leg slot that would also require a lot of cores
Nonetheless, this allows players to customize their character to fit their play style. You can make your dashes to create a shield in front of you, and combine that with fast movement speed to zoom through a course. Or focus on increasing your defenses with a double jump to dodge boss fire, while allowing your charged shots to destroy enemy attacks.
Another unique aspect of 30XX is randomized stages. Each playthrough of the game is unique with modular obstacles standing in the way of the game’s heroes. The current Early Access build offers a bit of a look under the hood for how this works.
It seems stages have predetermined courses whole randomizing certain segments. You’ll note that during stage intros and boss fights the corner will say “notDynamic,” while mid-stage you may see that you’re in “bt_temple_hk_A15_hard.30lv”. This begs the question just how random the game is. During my time playing I didn’t experience the same randomized segment twice.
Other differences include less lethal hazards. In 30XX, spikes and lava aren’t insta-deaths. Rather than just exploding into a burst of circles, when encountering a deadly fall like lava you’ll take one point of damage and return to your last solid platform. In a similar vein, spikes only cause one damage when touched.
It’s a good balance, offering some forgiveness to compensate for the game’s roguelike qualities. It’d be discouraging to have a run entirely demolished by one simple fall irrespective of health.
For those looking for something closer to its inspiration, Mega Mode creating fixed levels and saves. While this seems to undercut the main appeal of the game, it offers another way to play. The easy to use level editor- or rather chunk editor- also provides more ways to play. Should your chunk get popular enough when shared online, it can even be verified and seen in everyone’s game.
Graphically, 30XX leaves something to be desired. Some enemies blend in too readily to the dark background of some stages (most notably those bat-like robots) and it can be difficult to track them.
Stylistically however, 30XX manages to set itself apart with its sci-fi feel and use of colors. For a game with randomly generated stages, detail was put into making sure they still felt like real and distinct places.
In contrast to the game’s style choices, the enemy design leaves much to be desired. Enemies are either rote or utterly annoying. From slow homing bats that die in one hit, to a fast centipede that likes to make a beeline for Nina where her uncharged blaster shots are incapable of reaching.
Boss design is another story, not every boss fight is a typical “robot master” fight. For instance one boss is actually four turret-like gears in some clockwork behemoth that’s so large part most of it exists in the background; and each one has a separate health bar. So credit where it’s due, the bosses of 30XX are interesting and fun to fight.
30XX as it stands in Early Access provides a challenging platforming experience that will scratch the itch of Mega Man fans. Between the accumulation of equipment and upgrades, the variety of weapons, and random stages; there’s never a dull moment. The full release is likely to only build on these qualities for something better.
30XX is available now as an Early Access title on Windows PC via Steam. The game will also be releasing on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.
30XX was previewed on Windows PC using a preview copy provided by Batterystaple Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.