Axiom Verge, a solo Indie project headed by Tom Happ, is essentially this generation’s Metroid. Metroidvania has become a game genre of its own and gaining popularity in the last couple of years. Tom Happ hopes that Axiom Verge will stand out from the crowd. Everything you see, hear, and do in this game is done by Happ. What was once a weekend project five years ago now becomes one of the most amazing Indie games to date. Sony funded the game via their Sony Pub Fund, which allows independent developers to get the funds they need in advance in exchange for a timed exclusivity for their platforms. The game will also be coming to PC as well. While the PS Vita version’s release is a few months away, but cross play will be possible between the PS4 and Vita versions.
You play as Trace, an average, everyday scientist living in Nevada. While working on a science experiment one day, the project goes awry and blows up the whole facility leaving our protagonist waking up to a mysterious alien world. Trace must figure out what just happened and where he is. The story is well written and keeps players intrigued. Going into Axiom Verge, I was expecting the story to take a back seat to the gameplay, but to my surprise the narrative is captivating and features some great plot twists about half-way in. The theme is similar to Bioshock Infinite because it features an alternate reality and a story so mind-blowing that you’ll find yourself thinking about it even when you’re not playing the game.
Axiom Verge is a traditional metroidvania styled game that requires a lot of backtracking. You’ll find that the game is designed in a way that you are forced to return to previously visited locations after gaining new abilities in order to unlock new paths. A map is at your disposal, and you’ll rely on it quite a bit to see where you’re going and which new areas have not been explored. This will take a little bit of getting used to, because the way the map is laid out is actually confusing at first but the more you use it, the more comfortable it becomes. The map is also pretty huge, with plenty of areas that keep the game fresh and prevent it from becoming repetitive.
With the map being so large, you might come across glitches, but interestingly, these are intentional game glitches that pose as hidden passages. You can enter these passages and once you do, the game immediately looks like it’s glitching out as the screen gets fuzzy and weird. Through these passages you can find hidden weapons and messages. The new weapons found either in a glitch or in a standard room will tremendously help you fight the bosses in the game. Even playing on normal, the game is still very difficult. The challenges you face during boss fights depend greatly on how well you are familiar with the game. One of the coolest weapons in Axiom Verge is the Address Disruptor, which gives you the abilities to detect things that you couldn’t see before, open up hidden passage ways and turn enemies into a different form. There are a few more of these cool weapons in the game. There’s also a speed run for those looking for more challenges. Tom Happ beat the game in 4 hours and 39 minutes, so if you think you have what it takes to break his record, this speed run challenge is for you.
Axiom Verge takes inspiration from a lot of retro games. You’ll find elements from Metroid, Contra, and Blaster Master. These are games that Tom Happ enjoyed playing and he wants to make a game that incorporates all the cool elements from these three classic games. Out of the three, Axiom Verge apparently resembles Metroid the most. It actually looks and feels like a remake of that game. It’s refreshing to see an 8-Bit game done so beautifully. Indie games are getting bigger and bigger and Axiom Verge is bringing retro back to consoles and PC. This game is a gem for anyone that didn’t grow up with 8-Bit games and a beautiful nostalgia for those that did.
Happ lends solo efforts to bring this game to fruition. Not only did he do all the coding for the gameplay himself, but he also designed the graphics from scratch. Additonally, he produced all the music in the game too. Different background music is designed for different areas of the game. As great as the music sounds, sometimes it can get in the way of your focus when you’re caught in a difficult fight trying to eliminate tough enemies that surround you. This is when you want the music off. Imagine having just found a new area after a very challenging fight and suddenly an enemy kills you with the music blasting in the background, there’s really no better way to build up that frustration. You can either laugh it off or rage quit. The sounds for the guns are all distinct as well. You will come across many different types of guns and they all sound differently.
Axiom Verge is scheduled to release on March 31st for $20.00 on PS4. Tom Happ has said before that they’re looking for a late May release date for PC and a couple more months for the Vita version. The game is overall a fun game with some cool classic elements that can either bring nostalgic memories or create some new ones for younger gamers. The game is interesting enough for me to definitely suggest a day one purchase. Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed Axiom Verge as much as I did and for all your latest game reviews, keep it locked to FGE!