Axiom Verge Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Axiom Verge Review



Coming as a port from the PlayStation 4, Axiom Verge is a fascinating game. Clearly inspired by Metroid, Thomas Happ alone built this wonderful piece of software on his own from the bottom up. The game was originally released in March, so it’s not like we’re falling far behind Sony this time around. With that said, let us divulge on the game itself.


Who’s a nice biomechanical monstrosity? You’re a nice biomechanical monstrosity. Yes you are.

I’d first like to point out that Axiom Verge is a strangely disturbing game, courtesy not only of the universe it plays out in but also of the masterfully designed soundtrack that sticks with you for your entire playing session. As the game begins, we’re treated to a short cut scene depicting a lab accident that leads to the protagonist – Trace – waking up next to a strange, grotesque machine he soon learns to be a replicator of sorts. The scientist appears to have died in the explosion and is now trapped in a dark, horrifying world of biomechanical organisms and strange machines.

While clearly inspired by the Metroid games, this is not an attempt to cash in on the success of the legendary franchise. Instead, Axiom Verge feels and plays like a proper homage, yet is very much capable of standing on its own two legs in virtually all regards.

Perhaps the game’s most satisfying feature, character progression leaves little to be desired. As you make your way through the dilapidated environments, you stumble across various upgrades and sidegrades, with weapons being the most obvious collectible. There are around twenty weapons to be found, I shit you not, and each performs much differently than others do. Sure, you do begin with a bog-standard blaster, but you’ll be wielding the lightning gun before you know it. Further down the line the game will have you controlling a bio-mechanical spider drone that’ll scout the area for you, thus keeping you safe from harm. The Orbital Discharge will, on the other hand, help you deal with the pesky ceiling monsters that keep spewing stuff down on you. There’s a rather large armoury to take note of here, and the clear sense of progression makes each and every one of the weapons on offer feel properly built for the sections ahead. Naturally, you can fire in eight directions, as well as crouch and jump, and these functions form the brunt of your interactive abilities, as far as the game is concerned.


Interestingly, things normalize a tad bit as you progress towards the end.

As you make your way through the levels for the first time, you’ll notice many pathways are either hidden away or blocked somehow. Axiom Verge will have you backtracking quite a lot, using the newly acquired tools to open up doors or simply traverse through walls, at one point. It’s a system that’s been used for decades, and it works nicely yet again. While we’re on the subject of levels, I’d like to point out that the only real flaw I’ve found the game to have lies in the disjointed and convoluted nature of its environments. I don’t believe many will find sense or logical pattern in the way platforms you traverse across are set up, and while this might not have been important two decades ago, I believe we’ve come to a point where even a Metroid-like game has to have a meaningfully realised environ. That’s not to say that there’s no interesting level design to be found. One of the starting scenes sticks with me in particular, and that’s the immense pile of mummified corpses you run across during the first hour of gameplay. It really sticks out and gives off a very creepy vibe. The assets levels are built from are nice, though, and the overall atmosphere is, I feel, spot on.

Sadly, Axiom Verge isn’t much of a looker. While any given element of any scene may be of high quality, the way it all blends together seems to be less impressive than it should be. Again, some scenes and sequences are beautiful enough to raise the bar higher towards the low eighties, yet the overall sense keeps the score just a tad below. It’s a good visual experience, really, just not that special. The music, however, I find to be extremely appropriate. The tunes are both intense and creepy in their own right, and compliment the already brooding atmosphere perfectly. I’d argue that the soundtrack adds more to the game than the graphics do, really, and that’s telling quite a lot.

Technicalities aside, gameplay is the star of the show in Axiom Verge, and this is what the game really excels at. Not only are the controls fast, tactile and highly responsive, but you’ll also enjoy taking down whatever enemies you come across, courtesy of the fascinatingly built weaponry I’ve spoken about earlier. It takes nary a moment to come to grips with all the functionality your in-game avatar offers, and you’ll be flying across the levels with joy in a matter of minutes. As an added bonus, the game’s intriguing storyline keeps pushing you forward in an effort to come to the bottom of what’s going on, and I promise that the revelation is well worth the ten-or-so hours you’re bound to invest in Axiom Verge.

To conclude on a high note, I’ve enjoyed Axiom Verge through and through. It’s a game that’s well aware of its roots and embraces them, while also being able to build its own identity and mythology that keeps the player pushing through some of the most intense platformer boss-fights I’ve encountered ever since Terraria. Make no mistake, Axiom Verge is a game you definitely want to play, and while it does come with a fault or two, there’s no better title than this to show you how things were decades ago.