Review: Axiom Verge (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: Axiom Verge (Switch)

by Danny Bivens

More pixelated goodness on the Switch. 

Back in a time where the Metroid series seemed all but dead, one man took it upon himself to put together something that pays tribute to the legendary series, while at the same time having an identity of its own. Originally releasing in 2015, Tom Happ’s take on the Metroidvania genre, Axiom Verge, has been available on a number of platforms over the years. Now, with the Switch catching its stride, it seemed inevitable that this modern day classic would find its way to Nintendo’s system.

Axiom Verge puts players in the shoes of Trace, a scientist whose experiment goes terribly wrong. This ends up transporting him from Earth to the mysterious world of Sudra. There, he meets Elsenova, a giant machine that tasks Trace with the job of helping to bring down the mad scientist Athetos who destroyed Sudra long ago.

Controls in Axiom Verge are complex, but remain fluid and easy to get the hang of. Movement is quick and snappy and the gunplay is great. Speaking of the arsenal, there is an excellent variety of guns and weaponry that players can pick up throughout the game. Cycling through weapons is intuitive. With a simple flick of the right joystick, players can cycle through a weapon wheel that pops up on the screen. In regards to the movement, several cool upgrades throughout the game enable Trace to become more versatile which helps players reach areas that they wouldn’t have thought possible at the outset of the game.

Visually, Axiom Verge is a treat. The game skates along the border of being an 8-bit game while at the same time having great animations and visual effects. A perfect example of this comes with defeating enemies. After blasting an enemy, your vanquished foe erupts into an explosion of pixels. The effect is super satisfying and never really gets old. On top of this, nice touches such as  the excellent character portraits, fantastic backgrounds, huge bosses and great enemy designs tie everything together nicely.

The music here is amazing. Kudos to Tom Happ for just nailing it with an entire soundtrack of ethereal tunes. Right from the main menu, the low, bumping main theme starts up immediately setting the overall mood. It doesn’t just stop with the amazing music. Sound effects do equally as good of a job setting the tone. A great example of this came early on in the game for me. I came across an enemy that was standing still with its arms dangling at its sides. When I got close enough, it would let out a terrifying screech and then sprint my way. It was unnerving which is honestly something I have never felt while playing a 2D game.

Axiom Verge is a phenomenal game. It stays true to the Metroid formula and at the same time enhances it with cooler weapons and abilities that Nintendo hasn’t dreamed of yet. Although there are some obvious similarities here with other Metroidvania titles, Axiom Verge does a great job of standing out on its own as something special. My only complaint is that there is no way to fast travel between sections of the map which would have made back tracking a lot easier. Regardless of this small complaint, you owe it to yourself to pick up this game.

Final Score: 9.0

(Review code provided by the publisher)

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