Set in 2174, you play as Trace, a cute robot on a mission to do what you like best, exploring his universe and blasting everything in sight. You play as Trace, a robot who is trapped in a mysterious alien machine he can’t escape from, and you need to find your way out, and back to the world you know.

I was instantly in love with Axiom Verge, and the same was true for anyone who played it. The game is so perfect in its simplicity and depth that it’s hard to believe it’s a year old at this point. There isn’t a whole lot to Axiom Verge , but what’s there is so finely tuned that the experience is like a symphony. The game’s controls are spot-on; it’s hard to die, but hard to be done wrong. The game world is almost as memorable as the music, as the color and design of each different level is as varied as the music.

Axiom Verge is a sci-fi metroidvania love letter to the golden age of gaming, and while it is a short, one-man project, it’s a damn fine example of indie game craftsmanship. Its levels are sprawling, offering a ton of secrets to uncover, while the game’s visuals are gorgeous, and its music is what may be the best soundtrack of the year. Oh, and those retro 8-bit graphics are awesome.

Because to its unreserved love and dedication to Metroid, Axiom Verge became an indie success. The game was designed in the style of Nintendo’s original 8-bit game, and it seemed as if it might have been a long-lost treasure from that period.

Six years later, developer Thomas Happ returns with Axiom Verge 2, and his fascination with Metroid is even greater this time around. While there are clear narrative parallels to the previous game, the sequel feels almost entirely independent. A new character is introduced, as well as new, more spacious environments and some significant modifications to the gameplay and mechanical emphasis.

Axiom Verge 2 Review: Love from Metroid

Axiom Verge 2 (like the first) isn’t so much a ‘MetroidVania’ game as it is a Metroid-like game. Metroid and Axiom Verge 2 concentrate on particular improvements and exploration, while Castlevania has a little of commerce in RPG-like character and ability development, where grinding tends to have a reason.

Yes, you’ll earn upgrade points to improve your character’s attributes and skills, but fighting, although abundant, isn’t really a feature or emphasis in how the character develops. Combat, on the other hand, tends to get in the way of exploration over time.

But, to take a step back, this story of Indra, the wealthy CEO of the Globe 3 conglomerate, is about solitude, desperation, and mystery. Someone left cryptic hints suggesting her kid might be discovered there via a portal to another planet, so she’s gone to Antarctica to find her. What she discovers are imprisoned scientists from earlier expeditions attempting to live and perhaps return home in a harsh environment.

The story has a unique breadcrumb-trail aesthetic to it, which reflects the game’s vintage, pixel fixation. Every communication is unfinished since that mystery contact can only communicate on old, 1980s-style terminals with limited memory. This compels you to constantly go on to the next terminal in the hopes of finding a solution. You’ll gain new abilities along the journey due to weird AI ghosts (or, maybe, ancient gods) known as ARMS, which, once found, offer her new perspectives on the universe.

Indra can hurl a boomerang-like ranged weapon, climb higher, hack machinery, and even send her mind out as an adorable tiny crawling drone within the first hour of the game. While the drone may seem to be nothing more than a gimmick for creeping into tiny places and jumping through little portals to other levels inside the game at first, its use grows as you go.

If it seems like everything is purposefully unclear on specifics, that’s because it is. Even if you’ve probably played dozens of games like this before, it’s important going into the game with as little knowledge as possible.

The storyline is a wild and complex beast conveyed mostly via conversation exchanges between imprisoned humanity and other extraterrestrial visitors such as the ARMS and other god-like entities. The graphic design (particularly the opponents) has a lovely old Mesopotamian influence that contributes to the world’s oddly isolated alien atmosphere.

The excellent music adds to the gloomy atmosphere. While this is undoubtedly a game intended for an 8-bit and 16-bit display, it does a lot with its restricted palette.  av201-411d8

The emphasis on exploration vs fighting is an area where one player’s mileage may vary. Enemies regenerate when you return to a location, yet battling them all the time is pointless. There just isn’t enough variation in the gameplay to make fighting the same creatures again rewarding with only an axe as your primary weapon and very few range choices beyond that boomerang.

And considering how much back and forth across the map Axiom Verge 2 requires, it will happen again and again. The map will show you where your next goal is, but getting there is seldom simple. Most of the time, you’ll be retracing your steps in the other direction to reach the next marker. The route may be painfully unclear at times. There are save locations scattered around the environment that refill your health, but strangely, you have to go very far into the game before you can utilize them as waypoints for quick travel.

Another throwback is the game’s emphasis on pushing up to interact with objects like doors and save locations rather than designating a generic interaction button.

Review of Axiom Verge 2 – The Bottom Line

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Pros

  • There is a vast and interesting world to discover.
  • Stunning gloomy atmosphere
  • The Metroid-style power-up mechanism is ingenious.
  • The player is constantly pushed to access new regions.
  • Pixel graphics are fantastic.
  • Excellent graphic design
  • Exceptional result

Cons

  • There isn’t enough variation in the fighting, which seems overly monotonous.
  • It’s inconvenient to have to press up to engage.
  • Finding your way to your next goal may be exasperatingly difficult.

Axiom Verge 2 is a heartfelt tribute to Metroid. The enormous environment is both difficult and fascinating to explore, the power-ups provide clever solutions to problems, and the narrative is engaging.

However, due to the poor fighting and occasional bouts of irritation, it isn’t ideal.   

[Note: The copy of Axiom Verge 2 used for this review was bought by the writer.]

It’s been a while since developer Thomas Happel walked away from the controls of his signature 2D action-platformer, Axiom Verge. This year, Happel’s team at Thomas Happel has announced the sequel to his 2014 indie classic, Axiom Verge. This time around, Happel has been joined by developer Tom Happel, father of Thomas and with decades of experience in the video game industry under his belt.. Read more about axiom verge 2 full map and let us know what you think.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • axiom verge 2 metacritic
  • axiom verge 2 walkthrough
  • axiom verge 2 true ending
  • axiom verge 2 release date
  • axiom verge review
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