'Axiom Verge' Updates Metroidvania For A New Generation

March 31, 2015

The idea of cross-crossing an expansive map that opens up as you acquire new weapons and power-ups dates back to the 1980s. The pioneers of these concepts have always been the Metroid and Castlevania franchises, which popularized the gameplay back on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and continue to incorporate them into their more modern iterations. Axiom Verge is a faux-8-bit, 2D, sidescrolling platformer that's a love letter to those games, both in style and execution. It was picked as one of E3 2014's Hidden Gems, and months later it delivers on the promise of recreating the feeling of these classic titles, while incorporating some updated innovations.

Developer: Tom Happ
Publisher: Tom Happ

"Tom Happ" isn’t the creative name of a sprawling, independent game studio. It's actually just one guy's name. Tom Happ is the one-man tour-de-force behind Axiom Verge. He alone did all of a game's design, development, art, and music. What started as a side project by a Petroglyph Games (creators of Star Wars: Empire at War, Mytheon, and Grey Goo just to name a few) engineer has grown into a full-blown indie darling. Happ started working on Axiom Verge five years ago, and now, after all that time, the fruits of his labor are finally being released to the masses.

Sometimes the worst circumstances make for the best games. In Axiom Verge our hero, Trace, was working at a science lab in New Mexico in 2005 when something went horribly wrong, and as his lab collapsed around him. Instead of dying a painful death, he was sucked into a different world just in the nick of time. After waking up inside of a giant, metal egg, Trace starts wandering the corridors with his newly discovered gun, trying to stay alive, and figure out just what this strange place is. Axiom Verge throws players into a pixely, 2D adventure where Trace gets to explore a world that slowly opens up as he discovers new items to reach new areas. It's a formula that feels familiar, set in a game that looks familiar, but much of Axiom Verge still manages to feel fresh. As the story of Axiom Verge unravels, it become clear to Trace what his role in all of this is, and why he has to battle these giant, screen-filling monsters that want to kill him, in order to save an alien race.

Over its five year development period, Axiom Verge has gone through a series of different iterations on multiple platforms. Its final release will be launching on PlayStation 4, and PC shortly thereafter. A PS Vita release is on the horizon, and will support cross-buy for anyone that picks it up on the PS4.

For anyone that ever spent hours working their way through planet Zebes, or found themselves lost in Dracula's castle, Axiom Verge is bound to bring back a flood of memories. Tom Happ's love letter to classic, "open world" games is something that many gamers have been looking forward to for years, particularly in the absence of a new 2D Metroid game. However, if you're hoping that this is just a new take on Metroidvania gameplay, it's actually a whole lot more. Happ goes the extra mile to incorporate new concepts into Axiom Verge that help create an elevated experience that modern gamers are sure to appreciate. Even if you lack nostalgia for the good ol' days of gaming, Axiom Verge still offers a solid experience that any player with a fascination for exploration can truly appreciate.