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30XX Is Great, But Might Be a Bit Too Random

30XX is an immensely satisfying and easy-to-pick-up Megaman-like, but victory feels a bit too dependent on random ability upgrades.

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Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.

I picked up 20XX while looking for a way to distract myself from the stress of waiting for my son to be born a few years ago. The fast action and rogue-lite structure worked wonders for keeping me distracted then, but each time I picked it up in the years since I found myself bouncing off of it. The gameplay was still solid, but the overall progression didn’t grab me.

I was still excited to try out 30XX, though, thanks in large part to Jeff from Nindie Nation regularly talking about how good the early access version was feeling on Steam. After the Switch release got unceremoniously delayed moments before it was set to release last month I was worried something might be wrong, but I’ve been playing through it and, other than feeling a bit too random, it’s wonderful!

Superior Stages

The crafting of the stages in 30xx makes them feel more authored and less random.

30XX is pretty easy to summarize. It’s a rogue-lite action platform with randomly generated stages and upgrades that is heavily inspired by Megaman X. You can choose from two characters, one with a melee basic attack and one with ranged, and fight your way through enemies, obstacles, and bosses in a random order up to a final encounter. Whether you die along the way or make it to the end, you end up back at a hub where you can unlock permanent upgrades in order to try it all over again.

The gameplay feels super solid in 30XX, as does the level design. While both the order of the stages and the arrangements of the obstacles in them are randomized, the stages are made of large, hand-crafted chunks that give the levels a sense of flow, even when things are mixed up. For those who would prefer to really learn the path through a stage, there’s an alternate game mode that gives you a permanent seed to play through over and over again until you master it.

Random Rewards

The "memory index" in 30xx allows you to purchase permanent upgrades.

Most of my runs through 30XX ended with me making it to the third or fourth stage in about 30 minutes. There are opportunities, especially after each boss fight, to choose from a few different upgrades in order to try to craft a specific build. However, there are a lot more places where you’ll just snag a random upgrade, which means being pretty flexible and adapting your build to those options.

Ever projectile on this screen right now is me.

My winning run picked up speed early with a spread shot upgrade, which meant I shot three bullets at angles in front of me instead of just one. Then I found one that made my bullets bounce, another that created even smaller offshoot bullets when they bounced, and finally a life-steal ability.

I quickly became an unstoppable wall of bouncing projectiles that healed me whenever they hit an enemy.

Slim Story

There's a story in 30XX, but it's paper thin.

Everything fell into place for me on that run, and I cruised through the primary levels, boss crucible, and final stages, and “beat” the game without much difficulty. Of course, with a game like this beating the game once doesn’t mean much. Getting back to the hub after that first victory opened up a new set of objectives and a new option to make the game more difficult in exchange for more significant rewards.

After finishing the story in 30xx you can replay the game at higher difficulties, or jump into community made stages!

The overall structure borrows heavily from Hades, but the NPCs and story in general don’t stack up. The gameplay in 30XX is really good and the progression system is satisfying, but if that’s not enough to hook you into a roguelite game there isn’t that little something extra to pull you in.

Final Thoughts

Defeating bosses in 30xx always leads to delightful destruction.

Fans of Megaman X have probably already played 20XX and know what to expect going into 30XX. If you somehow missed that game, though, this is the one to get. It’s a bit shinier, a bit more refined, and every bit as addicting. Just don’t look for a story that’ll blow your socks off.

For the Switch specifically, I hope a future update increases the font size. It's not unreadable as it is, but playing on the Switch Lite there were times it was a bit hard to read.

Geek to Geek Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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