This indie title caused quite the stir when it was released on 31st March 2015. We’re a bit delayed in getting to Axiom Verge, but it finally clicked with us last weekend and it’s been dominating our thoughts ever since. The Metroidvania indie title was created by Thomas Happ and it’s a mighty impressive piece of work, inspired mightily by the classic Super Metroid and Super Castlevania games of the 1990s (and so we have Metroidvania).
Super Metroid will be covered one day on this blog (do not underestimate the staggering perfection of Nintendo’s Alien-inspired 1994 SNES masterpiece), but for today we’re looking at this game which has taken its influence, adds a Philip K. Dick theme, and crafts a borderline pitch-perfect modern indie classic.
The best thing in video games right now, other than Nintendo’s outstanding output, is the vibrant indie scene. It’s glorious! Typically low budget efforts from small independent developers with a lot of passion and unique ideas, you get titles such as this, which takes the best elements from the SNES era (still the best games console of them all) and adds modern sensibilities.
Thusly we have Axiom Verge. It takes Super Metroid’s free-roaming elements, which included solving puzzles to gather power-ups and advances to new stages in the game. The more advanced you and your guns or devices become, the further you can go in your quest.
It’s an extremely satisfying setup for a game, which is why the Metroidvania genre was born and continues to be so prolific. Indeed, the very best games in recent memory are largely all Metroidvania titles!
Axiom Verge takes this formula and adds in a Philip K. Dick styled concept – what is the protagonist’s reality? The story is quite complex and there’s a surprising amount of text to wade through, but essentially the central action is about gunning down alien antagonists and working your way through the various maps.
What makes Axiom Verge work is the excellent layout of the maps, the pulsating soundtrack, and the upgrades you can pick up.
Along with an assortment of increasingly demented guns, you have drills and reality-altering weaponry which distorts the radiation around you. It’s all very nuclear, dears, and it’s a real challenge and joy to make your way through the increasingly complex setting.
The Super Metroid Legacy
One relentlessly active problem and criticism for Axiom Verge is this – it essentially is Super Metroid. Well, it’s inspired by it. Heavily. Massively so.
The SNES game’s iconic map screen is copied outright (however, it also is in numerous other games – so, why not? It’s a great map system). However, the music, theme, and general style of the game are also extremely similar.
Frankly, we don’t take issue with this as it’s so clearly a love letter to Nintendo’s glorious game, and it adds interesting new elements to the genre. We have to say, Axiom Verge is fantastic. A real triumph.
So! If you like shooting aliens, you can pick this gem up on the PS4 or Steam at around £14 (probably about $20). It’s also coming to the Wii U and Xbox One sometime this year.