"A failed scientist dies in an accident, only to awaken in a mysterious, alien world.
Where is he? How did he get here? And why do the fundamental laws of reality appear broken?
Life. Afterlife. Real. Virtual. Dream. Nightmare. It's a thin line.
It's Axiom Verge."
Axiom Verge takes you into a world never seen before. A world where aliens rule, big machine-like heads talk to you, and the game glitches. "The game glitches? What's that crap?", you might think. It's all part of this eerie and beautiful pixel-art-designed adventure, in which you take control of this failed scientist who died in an accident and wakes up right there. He doesn't know where he is, he doesn't know what to do, but as the story progresses he feels he is on a mission to free this brave new world from cyborg-ish enemies. Well, to be honest, I feel just like the dead or alive scientist, I have no clue at all what the hell is going on.
This is a very good thing! You quickly get a connection to the main character because he seems like a normal person. Some would exactly do as he does, some might just run wildly away and die. But here's the catch, you get healed from death in egg structures and can relive everything you just explored. You are the chosen one!
Now let's talk real quick about the gameplay. Axiom Verge is a Metroidvania, which relies on badass weaponry, and world-bending glitches that will help you progress. This is a big part of the game, as glitched wall for instance, that you by the way can clearly distinguish from other structures, sometimes not so much though, stand right in your way to an upgrade, a new weapon, or the next boss fight. Even in boss fights you can use your glitch dispenser to create barriers as shields, or to jump on for a better shooting angle.
The game got its inspiration from games like Super Metroid, a bit of some Mega Man, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, and other Metroidvania style games. Tom Happ, who did the whole game by himself, art and code, even the music, created this gem of a game as a side project in 2010. After a few builds, the game became something with depth and received good feedback pre-release.
So to wrap things up, it's an 2D side-scrolling action-adventure with big elements of Metroid and the likes. You search for items to beat bosses, track back the big map to open up new areas with latest equipment, and fight of the evil creatures on your path.
What I like about the game:
The gameplay is perfect. I can't tell you much about it. You walk, shoot, and glitch your way through the game, and it feels fantastic. There is not a flaw I have came across yet.
The graphical side of the game is a big piece of art. Everything in the game is done by Tom Happ himself whose hobby always has been pixel art. I don't know other work he has done, but I would call this his best work. Explosions look beautiful when you shoot these alien creatures and the blood and flesh blow away from a center point in any direction. The environment looks very pretty and every area (the map has five sub-areas that I know of now) has its own kind of atmosphere and style. Enemy, character, weapons and their effects, and, well, big machine head designs are more than well done. Personally, I love the art of this game.
The music, also done by Tom Happ himself, gives the already strange world an even stranger vibe. The sounds are reminiscent of the NES/SNES era but the music is well produced, still. Sound effects are well placed and some of the aliens scream in a way you will always remember.
The puzzle side of the game, the glitching, is a feature that other games did not want to have in their design. But here it is very intentional and is a lot of fun. You can glitch not only the environment but enemies, too. They will change their behavior or even their form, sometimes they get on your side and can't hurt you but the enemies or even surroundings are getting destroyed. There is a big depth put into that feature and fits perfectly in this world, that is all about bio-mechanical aliens, creatures, and surroundings.
What I am neutral about and what I don't like about the game:
Nothing really. Well, the only thing I may find a bit annoying is that you have to run huge distances. Maybe I need some more time with the game and learn more about the humongous map. But other than that, there is not a real flaw to this game.
This is nearly a perfect game, and I only say nearly because I haven't beaten it yet, and maybe something awful happens in the story that I might dislike, which I hardly believe. I love this game, and in addition to the normal game mode, there is even a Speedrun mode that will keep track of the time you need to get from boss to boss, and your total time naturally as well. Highscores are included to try to compete with your friends and all gamers around the world. I highly recommend this as a pick-up for any time really. Axiom Verge is timeless, music, graphics, gameplay, it is a classic which belongs in every gamer world.
Released: March 31, 2015 (PS4), May 14, 2015 (other systems)
Developers: Tom Happ
Publisher: Thomas Happ Games, Sony Computer Entertainment
System: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, Mac OS
JerriKoe - Game on!