Axiom Verge was developed over the course of five years by a single man, Tom Happ. The creator did not only made the art, but he also composed the music, came up with a great game design and even programmed the game himself. It’s just incredible!
Axiom Verge is heavily inspired by the Metroid series, with a unique feel so it’s not like another rip-off. You can feel the structure of a legendary Nintendo game in every element here, from the backtracking and compelling explorations to the creepy atmosphere and challenging bosses. But Axiom Verge is more than that – you’ll surely notice unique concepts.
You are going to be playing a funny looking scientist named Trace. Once an experiment goes wrong, he awakens in an alien world that is strange and looks like one of H.R. Giger’s nightmares. The environment is bio-mechanical with various strange monsters and Trace must escape by battling past them. The storyline don’t seem that engaging, but what really makes it fun is the curiosity over what enemies and bosses you would encounter next, and what type of weapons and power-ups you could find.
Honestly, the entire game is simply an excuse to explore what’s out there, and it is the exploration that fuels Axiom Verge. There are many large maps that you can explore. While you are constantly between areas and bosses, you never feel as though you’re being guided. The only real limit is the use of gear that prevents you from continuing further. Similar to Metroid style gameplay, you will come across areas that appear impossible to pass, then you find a piece of gear that allows you to unlock the path and continue.
These special pieces of gear include drill that break blocks, a coat that teleports you through objects, and an item that ‘de-glitches’ certain parts of a level which has gone all strange. We can’t describe the feeling you get when you return to the part of a level that had you previously mind-boggled and suddenly you can get past it. It’s a great feeling every time.
Obstacles can sometimes be bypassed by weapons as well. For example, remote-detonated fire balls that allow you to unlock specific doors. Other weapons are simply for killing, but are still just as fun to use. The weaponry available is constantly expanding, and includes laser-shotguns that shoots electricity arcs, a heat-seeking orb and even this space boomerang type of thing. Of course, all of the weapons have proper names, but this is the easiest way to explain them.
Trace has found himself in a world that is not only really big, but interconnected like a maze. You will explore new areas and the map will be cleared as you are exploring. You will be able to pull the map up as needed and areas such as save chambers and boss rooms are color coded, but the majority relies on your memory. If you are the type that really enjoys clearing every section of the map, you will find that you are rewarded with various power-ups and health-boosts, even documents that provide a back story. While the story is not that important as we mentioned before, it is there if you find it interesting.
Trace moves quickly but shooting in a diagonal pattern can get messy. As you are not able to shoot while standing in place, you must be moving forward when firing to shoot at an angle. It’s nothing major, but takes a little getting used to. Other than this little issue, Axiom Verge is a solid game that has the feel of being developed and tested by a team, not one man.
Axiom Verge is not just another title that borrowed the aesthetics of a retro game, but truly understands what made them work as a game. It is one of the best ‘Metroidvania’ genre game for PC as it focuses on a tight design and minimal storyline that is still addictive, and offers rewarding exploration. Although fun, it also pays respects to homage by implementing the challenging difficulty. You will need a reliable D-pad to advance past some of the larger bosses.