The NES has many classics from, Blaster Master to Bionic Commando to Metroid. I listed those specific games for a good reason because each has influenced Axiom Verge. Games on the NES occasionally had screen glitches. Not only did the Axiom Verge developers design this game with that retro-style in mind, they also worked the screen glitches into a game mechanic. This game is one retro-styled experience.
Axiom Verge is an adventure, action, and exploration based game. You control Trace, a scientist, who thought he died in an accident. Instead, he wakes up on a mysterious alien world. I found the story incredibly interesting since these giant aliens are being shut down. They also rely on drones to cover repairs. I wanted to help Trace complete his mission. I thought it progressed slowly at first as there were few cutscenes and text dialogue.
There are numerous power-ups, enemies, and secret areas. The biggest asset was the map. Similar to Super Metroid, the map fills in as I explore each area. I liked the level design, as some parts prohibited me from returning to previously explored areas. I also had to backtrack at times as I needed a specific ability to progress.
Trace’s primary method of attack is his gun. There are numerous gun types found by defeating the various aliens. My personal favorite is the Voranj. This beam shoots out like lightning and expands out to cover a wide area. I was able to hit the underside of enemies or even bosses at long ranges, which made it a very useful weapon.
One of the primary abilities is to remove glitches. I found it more to be a way to corrupt enemies or open up new areas. The Address Disrupter accomplishes this in its funneled beam. It has limited range and does not damage enemies, but it can give them different abilities. For instance, when I used it on an armadillo type of enemy, it removed its protective shell. When used on some circular disc-like enemies, they turned into spinning blades and destroyed particular walls that your weapons could not. I loved this ability, as it allowed me to alter my environment.
The Address Disrupter can also be used to reveal hidden platforms. I was then able to reach new heights. It can also be upgraded to cover larger areas. Other items and power-ups have the option to be upgraded, too, throughout the adventure. I really enjoyed re-exploring areas with these upgrades and coming across hidden items.
Each ability uses a different button. To change your weapon beam, you press the right analog stick. One of my favorites was controlling the drone. I did have an issue with exit button for the drone, though, as there were some segments I would hit it by accident. The player resumes control of Trace after triggering the exit button. I also had difficulty trying to acquire an item. Other than that, I found no other issue with the controls, as I felt they fit perfectly.
The beauty about NES-inspired games is that the visuals are comparable to them. I really enjoyed the retro-styled designs, but there are a few areas where the visuals are partly misleading. For instance, there is one climbing portion that I found difficult to see which parts were platforms and which elements were in the background. Even with these complaints, I did not find this to be a major issue, though.
My absolute favorite part was the techno soundtrack with many awesome head-bopping beats. My only nitpick issue is the five seconds of silence as the track reloads. It was so enjoyable that I would remain idle at certain parts to just listen to the track. I enjoyed it so much, I am considering purchasing it.
FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 10
Axiom Verge is a retro-styled Metroidvania game with creative weapons and abilities along with a killer soundtrack. This is one game you should not overlook. I especially recommend this game to fans of Metroidvania games!