Alien and yet so familiar.
Axiom Verge is a game that has been on my pile of shame since it launched. It is the definition of something I would enjoy, and yet I never managed to squeeze in the time to play through it. So when it was announced the game was coming to Xbox One, I decided to assign the review to myself in order to finally play through it. Boy, am I glad I did. This throwback to classic SNES titles warmed my heart and made me smile ear-to-ear as I took down each boss. I felt like a kid again, and I never wanted it to end.
For those that don’t know, Axiom Verge feels heavily inspired by classic games such as Super Metroid and Contra. Players assume the role of Trace, who wakes up in an alien world called Sundra. The story is told through quick dialogue interactions, as well as notes scattered around the world. It never takes center stage, but is there for those that want to pursue it.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, Wii U, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
Instead, the game functions like any familiar Metroid-style experience. Trace will find new weapons and power-ups that allow him to access new areas around the world. Everything from the grid map to the somber music drudge up memories of Nintendo’s fabled classic. It is literally the best interpretation of the series in years, and it was all created by one man.
Of course, none of this works without great pacing, and pitch-perfect controls, of which Axiom Verge has both. The main campaign doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it drip feeds upgrades at just the right cadence. Anytime I was frustrated, the game opened up and delivered something new to explore, or a new, interesting enemy to fight.
In addition to getting new tools and weapons, there are also plenty of things scattered around the world to find. The aforementioned notes dive deeper into the world, but there are also damage and health upgrades to aid Trace on his journey. As for the guns themselves, there are plenty to collect, but I found myself sticking to one or two of them to tackle most enemies. The rest were used mostly for progression.
Visually, the game takes on a very Giger-esque look and feel. The alien world is dark and damp. Locales do differentiate enough though that I never got lost, which is crucial. The music also stands out as it reminds me a lot of Metroid titles, with dreary tunes that simply enhance the world around it. It feels alien.
It is awesome to finally have Axiom Verge on all platforms now, and for those that missed it for some reason, there is simply no excuse anymore. It is an excellent callback to classic titles, while also bringing its own flair and making a stamp on the genre. I cannot recommend it enough. I am disappointed that I waited so long to finally dive deep into its world, but now that I have, I can’t wait to go back.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.