I have a lot of irrational fears…

One of which is waking up in a room I don’t recognise and with no memory of what happened before I passed out. To me, this is irrational because it typically happens to drunk people. And I don’t drink.

However, there’s this guy named Trace, who is a brilliant scientist and doesn’t drink. He just woke up in a strange room, and has no idea what is going on. On top of that, there’s a disembodied voice telling him to pick up a gun and start running. or else “he” will find him. And Trace – being the rational, brilliant scientist that he is – listens to the voice and picks up the gun.

This is merely the first step into the fractured reality of…

This game is, without any reservations in my mind, the best non-linear platformer I have played in a very long time. I knew from the moment I booted it up that I was in for a real gaming treat, and I was not disappointed. I think the last time I immediately felt this way about playing a new game was with Silent Hill 2, or even Super Metroid – which isn’t surprising because Axiom Verge is not just inspired by the Metroid series; it pays homage to it. The most obvious homage being the screen transition when you enter a new area.

The game may look like a Metroid clone to the (extremely) uninitiated, but Axiom Verge is so much more than that. For starters, Metroid is owned by Nintendo, and they have a large number of people working on any one of their games at any time. Axiom Verge was entirely created by one man – Tom Happ – over the course of five years. Music, artwork, gameplay; everything was done by this one extremely talented guy. The more I played it, the more I came to understand this man’s love and dedication to this game.

Given that the game takes place on the fictional planet of Sudra, it makes sense that the art style looks “alien,” for lack of a better word. Actually, I’d say it’s more like Ridley Scott’s Alien, because I get some serious H.R. Giger vibes every time I traverse these unsettling underground caverns. It’s very refreshing when I arrive in those few areas that are above ground, when I get to see some of the weird, beautiful landscapes that still remain on this war-ravaged planet.

The number of weapons, health upgrades and collectibles scattered throughout the game are plentiful, and add to the replay value, especially for those completionists out there. One such collectible are documents that give some history on the Sudrans and the Rusalki, and what happened on the planet. I always enjoy finding these things because it makes Sudra feel like it’s a place that once housed a thriving culture, before a disaster slowly killed off the indigenous life and created a shitload of technological oddities and biological mutants.

There is also this recurring theme of questioning what is reality, and what isn’t. I love getting to experience this with Trace throughout the game because it does something I have not seen since the Futurama game on Xbox: The first time he dies and respawns, Trace goes through an existential crisis when he realizes that he just died, and wonders if he is still himself. There are other moments that make Trace nearly lose his mind, but I will not say what they are, because I want to avoid spoilers.

The ability to glitch enemies and the surrounding area is an extremely fun game mechanic. The Passcode Tool (a fun throwback to the Game Genie) lets me do some insane Harry Potter-esque shit, like making certain walls disappear so I can get a Flamethrower, or reading texts written in the Sudran language. The true Axiom Verge experience starts once I get the Address Disruptor, because that tool allows me to glitch enemies and alter the environment, so I can make platforms appear and disappear. I especially love glitching enemies that spawn projectiles, making them instead spawn health refills.

Considering that one guy created everything in this game, one might assume that there would be a drop in quality in some aspect, such as subpar music, or half-assed artwork, or broken gameplay or something like that. Well, I have played and beaten this game multiple times – and got all the achievements on Steam – and I have yet to find such a flaw. Everything in this game kicks metric shitloads of ass! Especially the goddamn music.

Not to take anything away from AAA titles, but learning about a new indie game that’s coming out soon gets me more excited than the next Zelda these days. Perhaps it’s the homage to great platformers of the 80s/90s, or maybe because I’m getting older and don’t like anything new, unless it reminds me of something I played many years ago; games like this get me excited to play something new, and Axiom Verge has made me blow my gaming load on every occasion I boot it up.

Just in case I somehow wasn’t clear:

Axiom Verge is a definite buy, especially if you (like me) loved the Metroid games. I get a half-chub at the mere mention of the game, and I will continue to praise it for many years to come.

About The Author

Todd Pasalic

Slightly insane, 30-something video gamer, with a penchant for Nutella.

Related Posts