Where the did this game come from? From the mind of one man—Tom Happ. That’s right, over the course of five years one guy created everything you’ll experience in Axiom Verge from the gorgeous pixel art to the thumping soundtrack . This game was a labor of love and it shows.
You play as a scientist named Trace who was working on some kind of experiment that fails resulting in is his death. He awakens on a bio-mechanical planet unbeknownst to him called Sudra with no recollection of what happened or why he’s there. Through events that unfold he learns of a dying alien race known as Rushalki and the rise and fall of their planet and why he was chosen to help free them and restore power once more. To be honest I didn’t find Trace all that interesting and I must admit the game has a bit of a slow pace in the beginning but it eventually picks up. In the first couple of hours you start out with one gun and aquire a few more along with a drill. The drill is neat because it lets you get through weak blocks and can help you discover hidden rooms and other areas while also functioning as a short range weapon against enemies.
It isn’t until you obtain what is called the Address Disruptor that the game really picks up. Throughout your journey you will see flashing pixelated areas that are throwbacks to kill screens of the 8 and 16 bit eras of gaming. These are barriers that cannot be crossed unless you can figure out how to….and that’s part of what helps to make Axiom Verge such a stellar game. You’ll aquire new tools and abilities and not know their true potential until you experiment with them. For example I wondered what would happen if I used the Disruptor on an enemy and to my surprise it glitched them and made them far less dangerous and easier to kill. I then used it on another enemy that was shooting a red laser beam at me and glitched them making them shoot a harmless blue laser that destroyed part of a wall opening up a hidden area. Beware though, as some enemies actually become more dangerous if hit with the Disruptor. It’s a very fun risk reward system to see how you can exploit new enemies and progress further. I was also able to make hidden platforms appear making a boss battle just a little bit easier.
All the weapons you find also have their own upgrades making them stronger or changing their abilities in another significant way. The best example that comes to mind is the remote drone, a small spider-like robot that can squeeze through tight passages and obtain items for you. Eventually you find an upgrade that allows you to teleport to the spider bot’s location, allowing you to progress to a previously unaccessable area. Before I found the bot it was driving me crazy wondering how I was supposed to get to those areas but I pushed on. And that’s what Metroidvania style games are all about. FInding new abliities and exploring, exploring, exploring, including backtracking to areas that you couldn’t get to previously. The boss battles are fantastic and seeing them explode in all their pixelated glory never got old. The bosses really standout too as they are ugly but beautiful at the same time. There is so much to see, experiment with, and explore that it may seem a little overwhelming. But that’s okay because the game has a generous save system and even if you die you still respawn with whatever ability or upgrade you discovered before you could save manually.
It isn’t hard to draw similarities between the Metroid series and Axiom Verge but it does so much to set itself apart with dozens of weapons and abilities as well as the Address Disruptor that it’s able to stand on it’s own. I feel like it will be an instant classic and will be seen as the Metroid of it’s generation. If PlayStation isn’t your gaming platform of choice the game will be making it’s way to PC soon with an announcement in the near future. If you’re like me and PlayStation is your platform of choice and you also own a PlayStaiton Vita then you will be happy to know Axiom Verge_will be releasing as a cross-buy title within the next few months, so even if you buy it on PS4 now you’ll automatically get it on PS Vita for free. _Axiom Verge is available on the PlayStation 4 online store in America for a steal at $19.99 with 10% off for PlayStation Plus members and will be available tomorrow in Europe.