REVIEW / Axiom Verge (PS4)

 

Axiom Verge is an in depth Metroid-vania style game. The near 10-hour campaign had me hooked from the beginning. This 2D sidescroller takes a lot of its inspiration from Metroid. If you have played the game you will see why almost immediately. Axiom Verge’s intriguing graphics and character abilities have given a really memorable experience for me.

 

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From the beginning of the game you are a character that is stranded on a mysterious, foreign planet and have no idea why you’re there. As Trace, a scientist who seemingly dies in a fatal laboratory explosion, you wake up on Sudra, alien world that is simultaneously – and paradoxically – both high-tech and ancient. You must fight to survive against bizarre, mutated creatures as you are guided by a disembodied, robotic voice in need of your help. The game’s character progression is one of the things that left a lasting impression on me. It seems like you are almost constantly being introduced to new abilities throughout the entire game.

 

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The abilities in Axiom Verge do seem overwhelming at first, but in the end it is important to become familiar with each ability and what it does. From bullets to beams, laser drills to grappling hooks, there are numerous tools and weapons to be exploited. Incorporating the right abilities at the right time is essential to successfully navigating the game’s labyrinthine world. Some boss fights require certain moves to beat them easier and this will prove to be very helpful throughout the game. Some boss fights had me dying a lot more than I would have liked, but memorizing the boss’s patterns is very helpful in games like this.

 

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While the game is a lot of fun to play, I feel like the map layout and lack of information on where to go really drew me away from the game. I found myself getting lost a lot and not knowing where to go only made me more frustrated and made me take a break from playing entirely. I also feel that because of this, I didn’t really pay attention to the story at all. I found myself mindlessly trying to find the next zone I needed to get to in order to further my skill progression. That’s a shame, because the game’s story, full of mystery and intrigue, is what sets it apart from other entries into the Metroidvania-style subgenre.

 

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Lack of mini map aside, Axiom Verge is an impressive mix of originality and nostalgia, the closest you’ll come to Nintendo’s legendary, exploration-heavy action series on the PS4. It’s even more impressive when you realize that it’s all the work of one man: Tom Happ. He dreamed it. He designed it. He coded it. He scored it. Happ spent more than four years building the H. R. Geiger-inspired Axiom Verge, a massive world with more than 40 weapons, 60 upgrades, 70 creatures, and 700 rooms. It’s a labor of love, and it shows in every pixel.

 

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Overall I’d say Axiom Verge is worth playing. While being lost for extended periods of time not knowing which way to go seemed like a grind, It still had me hooked and wanting to continue playing. Where the story and map progression lacks, the gameplay and abilities you obtain make up for it.

 

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