Review: Axiom Verge
After my first playthrough I immediately jumped back into Axiom Verge to cleanup the remaining items that I didn’t find before. A handful of items eluded me for days as the methods to uncover hidden rooms among other things always seemed out of reach. It’s been a few weeks at the time of writing, but I still remember bouncing back and forth between multiple areas trying to use every ability and power-up that I could think of. Nothing ever seemed to work. Slowly over the course of a week I would come to find that the solutions to these mysteries required seeing things from a new angle. For as much as Axiom Verge might remind you of some other game, it also goes a long way in introducing concepts that no one else is doing. This isn’t just another “Metroidvania“. It’s a game that understands how important rewarding exploration is and it’s provided some of the most mind blowing moments that I’ve ever experienced in a game.
After a short intro cutscene you’re dropped into an unknown world with absolutely nothing on your character. From there you’ll simply explore to find weapons, power-ups, new areas, bosses, etc. If you’re familiar with any sort of “Metroidvania” then you should know what to expect from the game’s progression. There are many times where you’ll find a new item that allows you to progress into an area that previously wasn’t accessible. For instance you might be able to drill through walls, jump a little higher, or even grapple onto the ceiling to reach new areas. Throughout the game you’ll take down bosses that seem to be receiving commands from some mysterious person, collecting notes that share a bit of back-story on the world, and slowly uncovering the true nature of what’s going on.
Most of this is pretty standard and what you’d probably expect from this kind of game. Of course it should be noted that the level design, weapon variety, boss encounters, and gadgets are all really well implemented. What sets Axiom Verge apart is the way in which it represents glitches within the world. The Glitch Gun, found early in the game, allows you to manipulate enemies and the environment in some really awesome ways. For example if you use the glitch gun on an enemy spawner it’ll stop spawning enemies and instead spawn health orbs. Almost every single enemy in the game, aside from bosses, reacts differently to the glitch gun. Some will glitch into useful tools of exploration, some will glitch into a less threatening enemy, and others will simply float away without harming you. On top of that you can use the glitch gun to remove barriers in the environment, you can use it to uncover hidden areas, and in some cases it might reveal a password that could be very useful.
Passwords in the game can be used to translate foreign languages or to completely change the layout of certain areas in the world. The way in which you discover these passwords, whether it’s with the Glitch Gun or not, are almost always different. The discovery of a new password for me was always super exciting and I often found myself jumping up and down in celebration when it happened. There’s a number of other things that I found myself using the Glitch Gun and passwords for that ended up being incredibly rewarding as well, but I’d like to keep this review spoiler free.
There’s also a handful of secret worlds that can be found throughout the game which typically contain two to three power-ups. These secret worlds are randomly generated and always placed in a different location for each new playthrough. There’s a very subtle screen overlay that indicates when a secret world is nearby, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re easy to find either. You have to be observant and explore every little nook and cranny.
There’s a lot to cover with Axiom Verge, but I really think it’s important to discover what the game has to offer for yourself. There’s a huge arsenal of weapons for you to use on a large variety of enemies. Figuring out what weapon works best for each boss is rewarding and it’s especially fun to use the Glitch Gun in boss fights when possible. Plus I haven’t even mentioned how amazing the soundtrack is, all of the cool graphical effects (the boss explosions are absolutely incredible), or how cool it is that there’s a speed run mode complete with a timer that check points after each boss.
That said Axiom Verge is a game that absolutely nails exploration/discovery and that’s an experience that people deserve to have for themselves. After three full playthroughs I can’t think of many other games that have proved to be as rewarding as this. It’s the kind of game that, just when I thought I figured it out, it would surprise me again and again.
I went in expecting a good game, but Axiom Verge blew me away.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Glitch Gun
- Password system
- Amazing sense of discovery
- Lots of weapon/powerup variety
- Speed run mode
- Lots and lots of things that are spoilers