Axiom Verge 2 is a sequel to the indie game Axiom Verge, which was released in 2017. The developers of this title have taken a lot of time and effort to make sure that the game is as close to perfect as possible.
Axiom Verge 2 is a sequel to the hit indie game, Axiom Verge. The game was released on July 26th, 2018 for PC and Xbox One.
Axiom Verge 2 isn’t going to order you about. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Happ Games)
The greatest Metroid game never created gets a sequel that attempts to appeal to newbies to the genre as much as possible.
The credits in a contemporary video game may be an excruciatingly lengthy experience. Thousands of individuals and dozens of different businesses are frequently involved in the highest budget games (many of which don’t properly recognize their employees anyhow). Given how many creators scroll by you at the conclusion of the typical game, it’s no surprise that so few are recognized by name. However, since Axiom Verge 2 is nearly completely the product of one individual, this isn’t an issue.
Although Thomas Happ had more assistance with this game than with the previous, he is still basically a one-man production company. Although one might argue that Nintendo is a quiet collaborator, Axiom Verge owes a huge and well-known debt to the original Metroid. While the first Axiom Verge might easily have been a long-lost sequel, Axiom Verge 2 makes more of an attempt to establish its own voice.
The original game’s storyline was… complex, but never quite fascinating enough to warrant the interminable reams of information that were thrown at you on a regular basis. Axiom Verge 2 has a whole new protagonist, although the narrative is still based on the same pseudo-scientific nonsense as the first. All you need to know is that you’re searching for your missing daughter, who was first discovered at an Antarctic research station, and that nanomachines are involved.
It’s a pity the narrative is so difficult to follow, but, like with other Metroidvanias, the atmosphere is much more essential than the storyline. Thankfully, Axiom Verge 2 gets it, with a feeling of isolation and mystery that is reminiscent of Metroid. The major new concept for this sequel is a version of the time-honoured light/dark world system from Zelda: A Link To The Past, but it isn’t the only Nintendo game utilized as inspiration.
It’s a notion that’s been utilized in a variety of games over the years, with the one in Axiom Verge 2 divided between a world full of crumbling ruins and dismal rock formations and the Breach, a far more abstract computerized realm. Despite the fact that they cross paths at times, both worlds have their own maps and soundtracks, with the Breach sounding like the inside of a Commodore 64.
In essence, the game is two Metrodivanias rolled into one, with exploration in one realm often leading to a dead end that can only be bypassed by leaping through a portal into the other. This is on top of the typical Metroidvania ideas of having your progress tied to the acquisition of a certain item or weapon, which you later discover opens up numerous previously inaccessible paths.
All of this is accomplished well in Axiom Verge 2, thanks to superb level design and clever signposting that compensates for an unhelpful map. However, the game falls short in terms of fighting, which is much less engaging than the previous installment. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you use ranged or melee weapons, in part because the game’s laudable efforts to make itself more accessible result in combat that is frustratingly simple.
That’s particularly disappointing when it comes to boss fights, which were a highlight of the original game but can now be totally disregarded if you don’t want to interact with them. Even if you do, they’re all shockingly simple, so the game’s pace suffers as a result of the lack of significant milestones, and the few set pieces that remain begin to blend together in your mind.
The debate over whether or not certain games are too difficult has raged with particular ferocity in recent months, but Axiom Verge 2, a loving homage to a genre so niche that it’s almost entirely ignored by mainstream AAA games, seems an odd place to make a stand – especially since the original was never known for being particularly difficult.
The vintage visuals of Axiom Verge 2 are really beautiful (pic: Thomas Happ Games)
Axiom Verge 2 has a few unique features, such as the ability to hack not just doors and switches but even opponents, but given the lack of difficulty, this is seldom necessary in battle. When people complain that a game is too simple, they are frequently accused of being elitist, but the difficulty in Axiom Verge 2 is so little that it detracts from the gameplay.
Not only are boss fights largely optional, but few of them contain any noteworthy techniques or strategies, so it’s not like the game is reducing the difficulty to guarantee that everyone can enjoy its brilliance. It’s simply a game that’s intentionally made easier for no apparent reason.
Worst of all, there are no difficulty settings, so you can’t start on hard and then switch to easy level for newer players. In the settings, you can manually boost the amount of damage opponents do, but that seems unnatural and rather simple considering the amount of care that went into the rest of the game.
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There are some interesting concepts here, but they’re mainly variants on choices from previous games, like the light/dark world. While controlling a drone with a grappling hook is fun, it’s really just an amalgamation of ideas from other, much older games. While turning into a cloud to pass through grates was already a thing in Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, and while controlling a drone with a grappling hook is fun, it’s really just an amalgamation of ideas from other, much older games.
Axiom Verge 2 is a well-designed Metroidvania, but it isn’t very unique, and the lack of difficulty restricts the amount of fun you can get out of the fighting – which is a big part of the game. It’s certainly an amazing accomplishment for a single person’s labor, but while the original looked on the brink of classic status, the second delivers a far less memorable experience.
Summary of the Axiom Verge 2 review
In a nutshell, a strange sequel in which the lack of difficulty and simplified fighting undercut some of the finest level design and riddles in any modern Metroidvania.
Pros: Clever game and map design that makes excellent use of all of the skills and goodies. Retro visuals and music are appealing.
Cons: There aren’t many novel concepts, such as the light/dark world notion. Simple fighting becomes tedious after a while, and the boss fights are strangely unimaginative. The map isn’t particularly useful. There is no difficult mode.
6 out of 10
Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PlayStation 4, and PC* are the available formats. The cost is £16.19. Thomas Happ Games is the publisher and developer of the game. Date of Release: August 11th, 2021 Age Rating: 12
*Timed Epic Games Store exclusive
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MORE: Following Nintendo Indie World’s announcement, Axiom Verge 2 is now available on Switch, PS4, and PC.
Axiom Verge 2 has been announced on the Epic Games Store, with a Steam release to follow.
MORE: Axiom Verge review – Metroid under a different guise
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