Review: Axiom Verge

Metroidvania is not a term you hear used much nowadays. Is this because the interwoven mix of exploration and combat has proven too much for developers to try their hands at? Or perhaps the legacy of the two games that lend their titles to this subset of the action-adventure genre is something that many feel their games will not be able to live up to? Whatever the reason may be, there is one thing that can be certain and that is that Axiom Verge is proof that the same high standards can still be matched today.

As most sci-fi intros go, something goes wrong in a science experiment and seemingly kills protagonist scientist Trace. Except he wakes up in a strange world called Sudra, guided by a female voice to his first weapon, the Axiom Disruptor, and the journey begins – Who is speaking to him? Where is he? Why are all these creatures trying to kill me? Why can’t I remember anything? Explore further and find out. 

Axiom Verge

The real intrigue lies in the story however. Aside from your coming to the world of Sudra, there is a morbid history to this world, when you meet the face of the voice guiding you, Elsenova, one of the Rusalki - giant machines that seem all that is left from the Sundran civilisation. Trace is asked to help stop a mad scientist called Athetos who unleashed a pathogen on the Sundran people, the impact of this mass genocide heavily evident when you climb over mounds of dead bodies. 

In true Metroidvania style the core gameplay is proceeding through a section, finding that one portion you cannot traverse for whatever reason, but an upgrade to your weapon/attire will allow for future exploration, so linearity is never a fear. Castlevania had more combat than Metroid, which had a heavier emphasis on exploration, Axiom Verge favours the latter but that doesn’t mean there aren’t enemies aplenty. Find a room with some aliens in, select your weapon of choice and blast away, and with over 20 weapons to find there should be a gun for every occasion. Some of the earlier models include the Nova, which fires a blast you can detonate at will, sending projectiles out, essential for hitting switches not in your line of fire early on. The Kilver, which can only be described as an “electricity shotgun”, fires a short blast of green electricity and one of the only weapons which can fire through walls and take enemies out in a safer manner. Although most of the weapons available are plentiful, they are not essential to advance, but can add a change of pace as you find yourself low on health and are racing back to the nearest save point, using the wall-bouncing-projectile-firing Reflector to hit enemies instead of jump-shoot-repeat all the time. The screen-filling bosses (in some cases the camera is forced to zoom out to get them all it) prove a significant challenge but once you’ve established the weak spot it’s a dodge-shoot affair.

Axiom Verge

After the slaughter you can begin platform jumping your way around to make your map complete. Your map and weapon selection can be seen on the GamePad, which is handy for when you need a quick glance to get your bearings or to find the nearest save point, but for close scrutiny you may have to get the map on your TV, as I found it compressed too much to tell where a door was at times.

Exploration is accomplished in so many ways. Apart from your trusty firearm you can also acquire a drill to plough through rock, a gun that fires a drone you can control through narrow passageways, and more interestingly, the Address Disruptor, or more fondly known as the Glitch Gun. You can see a fair bit of the world flickers like it were a glitch in the game, in some aspects blocking your path or revealing platforms needed to get where you need to. It can also be used on enemies with varying results. It can make them susceptible to different weapons and easier to kill, or turn them into rock killing machines which can blast the way to a secret upgrade for your health or weaponry. There are nine interlinking sections of the game, each with its own personality, enemies and delightful chiptune melody, giving you the whole nostalgia package.

Axiom Verge has a lot to offer and completionists will have their work cut out for them, especially with the “secret maps” which appear randomly from a list of locations, but if you’ve played a game like Super Metroid and loved it then you’re going to love Axiom Verge.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Axiom Verge may not create the exact same sense of entering the unknown that Super Metroid did in 1994, but it's the closest anyone has ever gotten, and will recreate that feeling for new gamers with ease. With an array of weapons to utilise and a compelling story to unravel, Axiom Verge will keep you blasting away until the very end.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals3
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Great retro feel
Nostalgic soundtrack
Intriguing plot
Big world to explore
Huge arsenal/upgrades


Graphics may turn some off
Can get lost wondering what to do

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