Life. Afterlife. Real. Virtual. Dream. Nightmare
Axiom Verge 2 is an action-adventure Metroidvania by developer and publisher Thomas Happ Games that received a surprise release as part of Nintendo’s latest indie showcase. This sequel is set in the same universe and follows in the vein of the first, but is a fairly self-contained experience. Although it introduces new characters and enemies, little is changed at its core. The biggest difference returning players will find is that instead of guns, the combat is based around melee weapons.
You follow Indra Chaudhari, a billionaire who travels to a mysterious dig site in Antarctica. Hidden in a freight elevator, a portal to a breach world lay dormant until the base powers up and transports Indra through it. This move very much echoes the events and experiences of Trace, the protagonist of the first game.
When Indra first gets to the mysterious transported place she has no idea what has happened and no weapons or anything of use to help. Initially avoiding combat is key to survival as exploration begins. You gradually find weapons and learn hacks that can be deployed to help uncover the secrets and puzzles of the unknown world.
New abilities, and gameplay
As with the first game, Axiom Verge 2 is just as vague with how and where you need to go and how weapons and upgrades function. This is a classic trait of the Metroidvania genre. If you can’t get where you want to go initially then come back at a later time and with the right upgrades, you will be able to. I have spent over 20 hours with Axiom Verge 2, at this point, and still finding new locations on my path to finishing the main game.
The focus on melee combat adds to this experience. As you combine machine hacking and the use of your axe and boomerang in tandem gameplay becomes more methodical with each BOSS BATTLE. You can straight-up avoid the bosses if you want, but the extra powers obtained are key in reaching the end.
The artwork and direction are phenomenal, it’s clear to see Thomas Happ’s admiration for games of yesteryear. The attention to detail and the love that has been poured into every scene, pixel and game mechanic and really helps drive the flow. More than anything, what it has done is really hit the spot while we wait for the impending release of Metroid Dread, one of my all-time favourite series. Also, the music is excellent. I could quite easily listen to it all day without even playing the game.
That is the good side of Axiom Verge 2, there are some minor issues that crop up as well. With each new upgrade, the game doesn’t tell you directly where to go and is extremely vague in continuing the story. You have to find each story point which is sometimes relegated to text that you can find, or miss, around the map and in terminals. The map itself is huge and has two viewpoints, the overworld and the breach, which you must combine to get past some areas but again it’s really vague. It can be a real struggle to find the next checkpoint that will allow you to continue but ultimately doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the game too much.
I’ve had an amazing time playing Axiom Verge 2. The flow is brilliant and brings back memories of the best Metroid games, making the wait for Dread even more excruciating. The music, art direction, and upgrade mechanics all make for a very cohesive experience and work extremely well together. The pro’s definitely outweighed the cons here, simply put – this is a top tier title that you should play.
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 11/08/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Thomas Happ Games LLC
Publisher: Thomas Happ Games LLC
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop