Axiom Verge is a 2d metroidvania game made by Thomas Happ games. You play as a scientist who suffered from a lab explosion and somehow ended up in another high-tech world. The game's claim-to-fame is that it is a close resemblance to Metroid. Before I get into this review, I must add that I have never played a Metroid game before, so I will not make comparisons to the franchise. Also, this review will contain spoilers.
Diving deeper into the story, you play as a scientist named Trace, who is caught in an explosion at his lab. He then wakes up and finds that he is on the planet Sudra, and soon finds himself fighting for what is left of the Sudran population against a man named Athetos. The story is not anything spectacular, but its what Happ does with the story is what frustrates me. I would have been fine if the story took a backseat, but Happ tries to put in these plot twists that come out more awkward than anything else. Halfway through the game, their was a sort-of ending that involves Trace waking up and finding out he was in a coma the whole time and was left blind and injured. To me, that felt like a lazy ending where you couldn't figure out how to end the game, so you just say "it was all a dream!" But it got worse when you end up back in Sudra and find out the game isn't over. So, did he go back into a coma? But it's when you get to the actual ending is where it gets even more convoluted. You find out Athetos is actually you, but the story never built itself up to that discovery. It kinda just happened. But where it gets really weird is that you wake up again.Unlike the first ending, you wake up completely fine and decide to find a way back to Sudra. So, you are actually not blind like before? The story left me wondering which ending was the correct ending and overall, left me confused more than fulfilled.
The gameplay didn't help with my experience either. Their were some good aspects to the game, but overall, my experience with the gameplay was frustration and annoyance. This is what the game felt like to me: You find an item that allows to get back an obstacle in the world, but hit a new obstacle along the way. You then backtrack through the entire world, fighting the same monsters every time along the way, to find another item that will allow you to progress a little bit further. It was this monotonous grind of going through the entire world over and over that annoyed and frustrated me. The game also doesn't have any fast travel points, so I would have to walk back through all of the crap I fought the first five times just to find an item that would then take back to the other side of the world, and it made the game hard to play. On top of that, Axiom Verge had poor controls and little sense of direction. The game essentially dumps you into the map and says "good luck," but it doesn't even tell you where to go. You are constantly wandering around hoping you could find something that will progress me a little further. In the end, a little Youtube helped me find items to progress to the end. And the controls to me were a wreck. They were hard to get used to and were really awkward. A lot of times, I felt like I was manually pushing buttons instead of letting my fingers do the trick because they were so awkward. Their were some good aspects to the gameplay though. The boss fights were fun and varied, and the hacking, which consists of shooting a beam and making enemies weaker in various ways, was a good additive and made fighting the enemies a little more varied. Despite this, the gameplay is ultimately what drew me away from the game and made sure I didn't want to go back.
One final thought I will add is about the music. Overall, I thought the music was mixed. Their were songs that were pretty good, but then songs that were bad. I wanted to add this in because the music, depending on how good or bad it was, made my experience in each part of the map a little more bearable or a little more painful. I mainly remember playing through one chunk of the map and hating it mainly because I hated the song playing in that chunk. If you plan on playing this game, then I would say learn what song plays in what area, then turn the music off and on based on what songs you like and dislike.
The verdict: Axiom Verge is a frustrating and an annoying game that has you running back and forth, fighting the same enemies over and over, and while toting a confusing story, awkward controls, and a lack of a sense of direction. The boss fights were fun and some of the items were fun to use; but for me, the cons greatly outweigh the pros and left me not wanting to try out Metroid any time soon. I'm sure fans of Metroid will enjoy this game, but anyone who doesn't like backtracking over and over will not find enjoyment in this game.