Critically acclaimed indie hit Axiom Verge has finally arrived on Switch, meeting overwhelming fan demand for the port. First released in 2015, Axiom Verge has since been ported to a variety of platforms and, along the way, has earned a number of awards and accolades as well as a special place in the hearts of Metroidvania fans. If you’re unfamiliar with this title or haven’t had a chance to play it until now, keep reading to find out why you need to be playing Axiom Verge!
Axiom Verge is a 2D sidescrolling shooter focused on finding new weapons and expanding your weaponry. It’s heavily inspired by the Metroid franchise, but it’s also a mix of other popular shooters like Contra. However, Axiom Verge somehow manages to stand in a class of its own, and we think it’s one of the best games in the Metroidvania genre. Also, we’ve got to highlight that it was developed by one person: Thomas Happ. Happ designed the artwork, wrote the music, and programmed the game over the course of five years.
In this gripping indie adventure, you play as Trace, a scientist who passes out from a laboratory explosion to wake up in a strange world crawling with mutants and other deadly creatures. To keep this review spoiler-free, we’re gonna stop talking about the game’s story here, but we will tell you that it’s up to Trace (you) to figure out what’s going on in this dangerous and eerie world.
As we’ve said, it’s easy to see that Axiom Verge draws heavy inspiration from the Metroid franchise, and Metroid fans will note this immediately. For instance, if you’re familiar with Metroid, the behavior of your enemies might be pretty predictable in Axiom Verge. However, there are some elements that set Axiom Verge apart from its major influence, and we guarantee that even hardcore Metroidvania fans will find something new and refreshing in this award-winning indie title.
As you play, you’ll find a wide variety of guns hidden throughout the game’s levels, and you’ll unlock new abilities with time. As in Metroid, these unlocked abilities and guns grant access to areas you couldn’t reach before—but unlike Metroid, Axiom Verge features a few very unique mechanics. For instance, Axiom Verge eventually has you controlling a small drone to explore some of the areas that Trace can’t reach, adding a unique flair to this title.
Much of the fun in Axiom Verge comes from exploring the strange world you’ve found yourself in and trying to learn about it—and with precise and pixel-perfect platforming (a la Metroid), you’re guaranteed to have a good time. However, you will be backtracking a lot, which may come as bad news to some players. Of course, backtracking is part of many Metroidvania titles, but unlike those titles, Axiom Verge doesn’t feature warping or short cuts, which can make backtracking feel tedious at times.
Another slight downfall in Axiom Verge is its map. Unlike the map in Metroid games, the map in AV doesn’t offer much guidance, and your memory is your only ally when trying to keep track of what you’ve already explored. You may often find yourself lost, and you might even miss some power-ups or hidden items. And while the easily missed items and power-ups aren’t usually crucial for progression, they are crucial for 100%-ing the game, and completionists may find this to be a drawback.
But with Axiom Verge, you can’t linger too long on the drawbacks, because there really aren’t many of them—so we’re back to talking positives with the game’s controls, which are extremely well-designed and easy to grasp. For instance, changing guns couldn’t be easier: just tilt the right stick to your weapon of choice! Also, the right shoulder buttons work swimmingly to use essential exploration items like the drill. It’s nice to be able to use the tools at your disposal with ease—whether you’re playing with the joy-con or the pro controller! Another cool feature? You can use the left shoulder button to lock yourself in place and focus on your aim. This aiming mechanism also made an appearance in Metroid: Samus Returns for 3DS, and it’s proven time and time again to work really well for taking down enemies without accidentally losing your position.
Both the graphics and sound design in Axiom Verge are top-notch, especially when you consider that they were developed by one person. Thomas Happ has created sounds and graphics that make you feel like you’re in a different world; the exotic and mysterious backdrops are diverse and varied, from dark interiors to bright sci-fi landscapes with insane plants and wildlife, and the game’s atmospheric soundscape alongside shrieks of enemy creatures enhance the player’s feelings of isolation and alienation in this strange world, pulling the player deep into the game.
Whether you’re a hardcore fan of Metroidvania games or a newcomer to the genre, Axiom Verge is a great all around experience and will surely leave a lasting impact on the player. Axiom Verge is available right now in digital form here!
Axiom Verge is also set for physical Switch release soon and the Standard edition can be purchased here!
A special “Multiverse edition” is also set for release and includes a double-sided poster, “The Art of Axiom Verge” art booklet, an exclusive “Making Of” documentary, and an Original Soundtrack CD, which can be found here!