Axiom Verge

released on Mar 31, 2015

After a lab accident, a scientist awakens in a mysterious, alien world. Is this a distant planet? The far future? Or a complex virtual-reality computer simulation?

Plumb the recesses of a large, labyrinthine world in order to learn its secrets and uncover your role within it. Discover tons of weapons, items, and abilities, each with their own unique behaviors and usage. You’ll need your wits to find them all.
Combat bizarre biomechanoid constructs, the deadly fallout of an ancient war, and the demons of your own psyche.

And finally, break the game itself by using glitches to corrupt foes and solve puzzles in the environment. Life. Afterlife. Real. Virtual. Dream. Nightmare. It's a thin line.

It's Axiom Verge.

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I deeply love the metroidvania genre. In particular, I've always had a preference to the less-castylevania games as well, finding faster movement, deeper verticality, non-architectural level design, and gun/projectile based gameplays more fun.
This is likely the only real exception I've encountered. The style and premise are right up my alley, beautiful pixel graphics and a fun existential scifi plot in what I dare to describe as a near-Gigeresque world.
And yet. It jut doesn't click for me. I found the gameplay loop of the gun switches to be clumsy, the drill was entirely unnecessary and could have been wrapped in with the scanner, the scanner also being pretty unfun and unwieldy to use. The game doubles down on one of if not the worst tropes of the Metroidvania genre, hitting every single tile of every single room. Pair this with what felt like pretty uninspired level layout, it just seemed so much more damning than pleasant.
I truly want to like this game, every part of my being says I should and that's why I keep going back to try it again thinking "maybe this time it'll happen" and it never does, and I have plenty of real marked complaints about the game but at the end of the day I don't think it's some awful game.
It's just not for me. It's probably not life changing amazing, maybe it's not even great, but it's not bad either. Give it a try if this genre is your thing, otherwise, maybe steer clear.

I think I liked it? Idk, something about it just feels off. I think it's because it's SO similar to Super Metroid that you can't help but compare them, and this is nowhere near as good as Super Metroid. But if I force myself to judge it on its own merits, it's fine.
Combat kind of sucks. All the different weapons are fun but ultimately pointless since there's like 2 that are so much better than the others that you won't ever use anything else. Most enemies either pose no threat or deal you unavoidable damage. At least save/heal rooms are plentiful, but that just takes it from frustrating to too easy, and I don't think it could have pulled off a good in-between.
Exploring also kind of sucks, which is ostensibly the point of a game like this. The world design was lacking and I found it impossible to get your bearings in the world. You have to run through areas you've been already several times with barely anything new to do in them, and (probably because the combat is bad) it just isn't fun.
But there's a lot of good about this. The story and aesthetic were great. Very reminiscent of old school FMV games like Darkseed or Harvester and it's pulled off super well. I do think the story was a little opaque but it's clearly written with a sequel in mind so I'll see how it all gets untangled in the second one. It's interesting enough to keep me on the hook.
I think the movement gets fun pretty late, but it at least does that. The upgrades you get are creative and unique, which surprised me for a game so clearly inspired by Super Metroid. Early on I kept expecting to find a morph ball analog, but no, you just get a remote drone instead. There are lots of good ideas in the upgrades and I think for the most part they're implemented in a fun way.
And for how much the combat is kind of frustrating and annoying, I think most of the boss fights were fun.
I think I expected to like this a lot more due to its being one of the more popular indie Metroidvanias, and a long-standing one at at that. Maybe a little overrated? But I still liked it overall and I hear the sequel fixes all the problems of the first so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

Rating: 7/10 - Good
A nice metroid like. I did enjoy the progression, story, pixel art and bosses but the map is kinda of a mess and I do think that the game goes on for a bit too long.

Very nice Metroidvania. Boss fights leave a lot to be desired but the platforming is solid and the atmosphere is very memorable.

+ Extremely innovative and interesting metroidvania with an engaging story, lore and focus on philosophical themes
+ Tens of cool weapons to obtain and almost every one of them is useful in different situations
+ Fascinatingly unique abilities, upgrades
+ Amazing art and character designs
+ Graphics pop really well on handhelds like the Switch
+ Really good music for the most part, even listenable outside of the game which isn't always a given in metroidvanias (check out Cellular Skies if you're unsure)
+ Fun to speedrun
+ Sets up an infinitely entertaining storyline that I can't wait to see completed
- For such a fascinating and deeply layered game, its ending and final boss is a bit of a letdown. Not spoiling anything, but the main character is seemingly given an option to choose his ending or at least affect it in some way, but then it's not carried through. In general, the ending feels just a tad bit unfinished even though the rest is phenomenal
- Secret Worlds should maybe be just a bit easier to find
- A few tracks can get a bit jarring when repeated, like Inexorable
- Music also doesn't properly loop around, the tracks just abruptly end and start back up from the beginning again without any mixing which can break immersion
- Some bosses are great, while others are easy button-mashers if you know the exact place where to stand
- Fast travel can be a bit of a pain and is improved upon greatly in the sequel
- Some weapons and abilities feel a bit clunky to use with the aim lock controls

Amazing soundtracks and great gameplay
Great game overall