Axion Verge is an amazing indie game that takes gamer’s back to the 16 bit era. That feeling of nostalgia stems from the overall Metroid look and feel that this game exudes. With a great appreciation for this indie game’s appearance, graphics, play style and feel being quite similar to Metroid, let’s make one point clear…Axion Verge is not Metroid. Axion Verge follows a scientist named Trace, who becomes ambushed in an unusual environment having to battle a range of abnormal creatures. As Trace seeks answers to this newly found neck of the woods, he eventually stumbles upon a large robotic woman. She fails to offer Trace much assistance or information and only lets on that she is dying and in need of some help. After this encounter the overall story of Axion Verge seems to slip away from the player by filling in missing pieces of information and back stories on “journal pages” Trace stumbles upon as you continue to make your way through the game. Wondering if Slender Man was going to make a guest appearance as a boss fight at this point, the journal pages provide no incentive to engage in the back story and are lackadaisical at best. With that being said, Axiom Verge is still a game worth any player’s time for a number of reasons.
The weapons and upgrades are very enjoyable as you make your way through the world of Axion Verge. There’s a lot of fun to be had in rotating through weapon choices and seeing how each weapon differs in contrast to the others. Besides locating weapons, Trace also can get various upgrades. The anticipation of seeing a glowing ball of energy waiting to be obtained and what goodie Trace would get next is an intriguing element all its own. Axiom Verge is generous with weapons, add-ons and upgrades, but at the same time it needs to be. The map is an endless loop of tunnels going in every direction and can become overwhelming when certain areas are blocked off or wondering if you skipped a certain tunnel you should have chosen behind you over the way you are currently perusing. Even with providing a mini map to players, knowing where to back track can be a bit of a headache. For example, if Trace obtains a drill or another upgrade that now allows him to break thru a path that was closed off before, players must now back track and go through every tunnel that looks identical to one another on their mini map. By this time the mini map has filled out to be nothing more than a huge purple square therefore not offering much clarification. Where is a great navigator to join your party when you need em?
Boss battles in Axiom Verge mainly center around learning a pattern. Trace’s health can diminish pretty quickly so most bosses will have to be fought multiple times until you figure out their pattern and eventually overcome it. The sense of gratification of defeating a boss kind of depends on what type of player is partaking in this game. If you enjoy figuring things out and solving patterns and puzzles, you may find the boss battles rewarding. If you enjoy hype and action and more of a variety, you may find them a tad monotonous. I enjoyed the narrow hallways that seemed to say “Head this way and we have a bad ass over here”. It’s boss time! I found that pretty satisfying along with the audio when fighting the bosses as well as the boss designs. However, when I would defeat a boss it felt more like I just won a rhythm game of knowing when to jump, duck and shoot vs kicking some grade A alien behind.
Axiom Verge is prodigious due to it’s retro done on purpose. I would recommend this game to anybody who enjoys action games or classic platformers. Axiom Verge has it’s good points and bad points as every game does, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a hidden indie gem. The audio, the visuals, the feeling you get when playing, and the endless exploration can make any seasoned player feel like a kid who opened their Super Nintendo Entertainment System and played all day on Christmas for the first time again. With the frustrating factors aside, if one can appreciate that vibe and wistfulness that retro games have to offer, then Axiom Verge is the game for you. Axiom Verge is currently available for the Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita.
Overall rating 6.8/10