"It's not a bug, it's a feature." This is a phrase that's often thrown around in a lighthearted manner, but there's some truth behind the words. Programming errors can often lead to fascinating results that were never intended, creating a sense of excitement when one stumbles across a curious glitch that's obviously not supposed to happen. Evidently, Tom Happ really appreciated this phenomenon, as he constructed Axiom Verge to heavily revolve around bugs and glitches. Through this, Axiom Verge stands as one of the most memorable and inventive 'Metroidvania' games in years.
The story begins with our hero, Trace, finishing the final preparations for an experiment in his lab. The experiment starts out well enough, but things quickly go awry and the lab explodes, evidently killing Trace and his colleagues. He then wakes up in a strange egg-like machine in a grim world, guided by a disembodied voice. Is Trace dead, or was he teleported to another world? What's real, what's illusion? Axiom Verge excels at keeping the player guessing; you're never given all the answers right away. The endless mystery provides a great motivation to keep playing, even beyond the fantastic gameplay.
Axiom Verge plays a lot like a faster and punchier Super Metroid. There are no floaty jumps here, everything is quick and responsive, which naturally means that firefights are filled with more fast-paced action. You're given a standard peashooter to begin with, but the arsenal quickly fills out with a diverse array of colourful weaponry that suit every task. No two weapons behave exactly the same, and the variety on offer lends a nice layer of strategy to proceedings. Do you charge in with a shotgun style weapon and finish off a horde of enemies quick and dirty, or do you stay at a safe distance and pick them off with a more technical weapon? The choice is yours, and just when you're getting tired of weapons you seem to find another one. These weapons are upgradeable, too; attributes such as range, damage, and projectile size can be upgraded by finding collectibles along the way.
Of course, the major feature of Axiom Verge is the emphasis on glitches, and it's handled in a wonderful way. Early on, you're given a "glitch gun" that allows you to stabilize or destabilize certain objects. Douse a suspicious wall with it, and it may give way to a secret room. Blast enemies with it and they may become easier or harder to beat. You never know what will happen, and it's always a thrill to see what it can do. Also, there are randomly located "glitch worlds" that can appear virtually anywhere. There's no rhyme or reason to these, but they're almost always worth investigating. The maps are laid out in a haphazard, meandering fashion, the room designs make no sense, and enemies spawn erratically, but these glitch worlds can net you upgrades and collectibles that you otherwise wouldn't have access to.
Bosses are a huge highlight of the experience, too, with inventive and memorable fights showing up every once in a while. There's generally a fantastic sense of scope to them, as the camera pans out quite a bit to fit the whole boss onto the screen and you see how small Trace is in comparison. While none of the fights are that challenging - especially if you thoroughly scour every nook and cranny for upgrades - they do a great job of breaking up the flow of gameplay and often lead to yet another area or significant upgrade being made available.
The graphics are some of the most detailed that we've seen for a retro-inspired game such as this, with some remarkable attention to detail on constant display. Sprites and backgrounds are quite complex, with the bosses offering up some particularly nice eye candy. Though the colour schemes in different areas can tend to be somewhat monochromatic, it usually suits the mood well and helps add to the atmosphere. Axiom Verge excels at creating a legitimately creepy environment that oftentimes has more in common with Dead Space than Metroid, and this darker style can lead to some tense sequences. Standout moments can be found when exploring the mysterious glitch worlds, when the hue of the screen takes on a sickly colour, tiles and sprites regularly stutter, and the whole thing looks like it's being viewed on an old CRT.
The soundtrack is on par as well, offering a distinct and unsettling score that matches the pace of the gameplay well. As is expected, most tracks typically take on a dark, sci-fi sound, but this is a solid mix that occasionally may surprise you. Axiom Verge's soundtrack sets itself apart by how weird it often sounds, it's full of memorable, nightmare-inducing tracks such as this. Oftentimes you may find yourself caught off guard by the bizarre music upon entering a new area, something which makes the exploration all the more exciting.
Of course, we'd be remiss to not mention the Wii U exclusive features. As is standard by now, the GamePad helps a lot by streamlining the experience, as opposed to adding gimmicks to it. The GamePad screen adds extra features such as an interactive map and selectable icons for all your guns, along with Off-TV Play. It's nothing mind blowing, but these features help to make the overall experience more convenient. Also, for speedrunners, there are leaderboards for posting your best times; that's sure to be very attractive to dedicated players.
Axiom Verge is an excellent Metroidvania, one that Wii U owners should absolutely not miss out on. Creative gameplay, beautiful visuals, and a compelling story all blend to create a fantastic game that does a great job of paying tribute to classics while doing something wholly new with the established formula. It's made all the more impressive, too, by the fact that the entire thing is the product of one man's dedication. If you have the remotest interest in 2D action games, do yourself a favour and pick this game up.
Wowsers! Perfect score! I will definitely buy this game at some point.
I'm really looking forward to this and was going to buy it as soon as it becomes available in an hour but the Nintendo Direct is making me put it on hold for at least a few hours in case of surprises like GSC on 3DS VC.
Did not expect a perfect score, but the game earned it.
Also, this says a lot about how much we all crave an actual new Metroid game.
Wow; sounds like quality!
I've started playing this game on Steam. The controls and the graphics are perfect! But the music is very annoying.
I almost bought it on the Vita (PS4 cross-buy), but my backlog prevented me from doing it. I might go for the Wii U instead, it seems to make great use of the Gamepad screen, and I want to support the console (despite all its woes, I actually love having excuses to turn it on on a regular basis). Just wish they made a 3DS / N3DS version, it would be the perfect platform... "Fingers crossed", I guess...?
@helbertpina I believe the creator said that he won't bring it to the 3DS, but the AxiomVerge twitter account said in a comment that he is glad the NX should have a 720p screen so he would be able to know what he's dealing with (not the exact same words, but something similar). So, I guess it's either PS4+Vita, Steam, XB1, Wii U or NX.
@Parkour_LMan Shame, but OK I guess. I know it's just one guy developing and another one helping with the ports (right?), so I imagine it's a lot of work... Thanks the info!
So...perfect! Seriously wish it was on 3DS though.
First game I will fire up on my Wii U when I get back home.
Superb stuff.I can't wait to play this but sadly it's going to have to wait till next month as I'm going back to sunny Scotland on Sunday.I'll be taking my Wii U back with me to play with my mates but won't have time to devote to this beauty.That can wait till I get back.
So getting this
This game is indeed great (and also hard as balls).
Getting it today, and was planning to do so even before reading this review. I know Nintendo Life doesn't give out tens willy nilly, which makes this all the more impressive.
I'm playing it on PsVita and I really like it. But I wouldn't give it a 10: it's a nice game, but for me Metroid is more immersive.
Well I wanted this but now it's a must! Not only a must but need to play straight away! Not too many games get a 10 here.
Can't wait to play this I would love a new 3DS version though .
How much does it cost?
(This is Dan Adelman, the business/marketing half of Axiom Verge.) Thank you for the amazing review! I remember back during the WiiWare days when World of Goo got your first ever 10/10 score. So proud that Axiom Verge is in the same category!
@Pink_Floyd £14.99 but you get 10% off if you purchase it in the opening week.Or maybe it's the opening month?
@Dan-Adelman You're the man to thank for bringing this to Wii U.Cheers
It still says TBD in the eshop, and it's full price through Nintendo's website.
@SpeedRunRocks It up now for its £13.49 launch price.
Strange there's no trailer for it on the game's page,just screenshots.The trailer is already on there too in the coming soon section,or at least it was.
I'll never understand why anyone would make games with retro graphics nowadays when there's no technical need to. It's almost criminal how they're underusing the hardware. And it looks terrible. I don't get it.
The idea with the 'glitches' (not really glitches if they were put in deliberately) sounds funny, but not that funny. I can't imagine these 'glitches' staying interesting for long.
Of course I would have to play it myself to make a proper judgement, but since there is no demo I only have what I read and see here. And I really don't understand how a game that essentially has been done 1000 times before can score a 10/10 only by adding this 'glitch' mechanic and otherwise doing nothing that hasn't been done before (like, 20 years ago)...
I'm in NA. Still nothin over here..
I kind of want it, but 20 feels too much for an indie game that I may or may not 100% like. I've seen some gameplay videos and I'm not entirely sure I will. 10 would be a no brainer to try it, 15 would be more tempting, 20 is where I start wondering whether I'm better off getting one of the new Nintendo Selects I don't own yet instead.
Eh, wasn't into Metroid, and I finished this game a long time ago, can't see myself getting this version. Glad to see it finally arrived on a Nintendo platform though.
Funny how this game and Federation Force almost release on the same day here in Europe. Must buy... Axiom Verge, just to be clear
It's out on the NA eShop now. Can'the wait to play this!
I was actually going to buy this later but now I feel like supporting this game on Wii U as soon as possible. If Nintendo can´t make 2D Metroids anymore, then I´ll buy something similar made by others.
I actually saw speedrun of this on the Awesome Games Done Quick January this year. I was doing other tasks while watching it so I didn´t spoil everything in the process.
Must buy... Axiom Verge!
Thanks for bringing the game for Wii U!
10/10, eh? Well, I won't argue about that. It is a very good game.
I bought it the day it came out on Vita (my preferred gaming device), and absolutely loved it. My favorite aspect was the music, but everything about the game is top notch. Glad to see a 10/10 review for the WiiU edition.
I bought this on Steam. Haven't fired it up yet, but I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks for your many long hours of work, Tom Happ.
@Dan-Adelman This sounds exactly the sort of game I love. Can't wait to try it, thanks for bringing it to a platform that is otherwise suffering a bit of a drought!
@Dan-Adelman Thank you for bringing this game to Nintendo consoles! I have been looking for something just like this for sometime now. I can't Thank You enough for making this happen on Wii U, would you ever consider releasing this on the 3DS? Eather way you did want nintendon't in regards to making this because Nintendo doesn't want to make a 2-D Metroid.
We need more games like this.
@shani There's no technical need to make a game of any style. You do know how much people still love Super Metroid, right?Many gamers adore old classics and their aesthetics to this day so a new game made in that style can be extremely enjoyable.
Why does a game have to NOT look like this to be well received? That's what I don't understand. Just because you have the technology to add more detail, doesn't mean you must. There is a great deal of artistic license that goes along with this aesthetic. People often enjoy minimalist iterations of all kinds of art.
Additionally, it provides a new experience in the same style to games that many people who wished for this game will have played as children. Feeling like a kid again playing games seems understandably desirable.
Most games have been 'done' many times before in the broad sense, but games that score well add their own unique details and charm, which this apparently does very well - And this isn't even an overdone style of game.
Besides, how many retro indie games do you see getting critical acclaim? This is hardly a common theme.
'Just because you have the technology to add more detail, doesn't mean you must.'
Uhm, yeah you do. It's called progress.
And that progress in video games - graphics, gameplay, savegames, etc - happened for a reason. Because the old was replaced with something better. So in that regard, the inferior old methods should stay where they belong - in the past. If anyone really wants some eyesore and ruin their eyes (metaphorically), they can boot up their old consoles or run an emulator.
I know there are people who prefer this outdated look but the only reason is nostalgia. It has nothing to do with aesthetics because if it was about aesthetics, no one would play these ugly retro games (but I'm aware people do, which is crazy).
I also get reminded of my childhood when I see Super Mario World but that doesn't mean I would voluntarily play a game that looks so outdated in the year 2016.
Many people adore old classics but that doesn't mean those classics aren't obsolete. It's just pure nostalgia that clouds their judgement.
Or would you prefer watching cave paintings instead of watching Netflix etc.? No of course not, because cave paintings are no match for modern forms of entertainment.
Looks like a good game.
Can't consider getting this on Wii U when it's available on Steam and Nintendo have provided no assurance that eshop purchases will carry over to future systems. Steam seems a lot safer in that respect.
Backlog says I'll wait for this though. Enjoy, everyone.
Wow 10/10. Don't see that very often. Must be something special then.
Umm... No you don't... I disagree with pretty much your entire standpoint.
You see, unfortunately for you, you can go down this road until you're blue in the face (fingers?), but the very fact that this game and some others like it are extremely well received by a large number of people for exactly the reasons I am explaining means I'm right by default. That's the reality of the situation.
I played Super Mario World yesterday and loved it. It is extremely entertaining, just like old cars, films, works of art, musical recordings, architecture, etc etc. I enjoyed it more than NSMBU. So much for obsolete. The fact that it is drawn with a cartoony, semi abstract way makes it pretty much timeless, even if technological constraints influenced that decision originally. Mind you, it's not as if modern Mario games aren't cartoonized. It remains fairly simple, for sure, but pizza is simple and I love the stuff. Oh and for the record, people can enjoy BOTH Netflix AND ancient paintings; why does the preference have to be exclusive? I CAN'T enjoy looking at ancient art because of Netflix? This is absurd. Regarding this game specifically, pixel art is a fine art; making interesting and coherent visuals in this medium is minimalist and very skillful. It really restricts things and calls for creativity to stand out, which is why so few get so acclaimed.
To qualify: The overall scope of games regarding detail, realism, complexity and depth does indeed need to progress - This I am all for, but not exclusively. There is still clearly a big market for games that appeal to the styles of yesterday, and that's the bottom line. The fact that many people still adore the old classics (and Axiom Verge) essentially MAKES them not obsolete. This is art, not just technology.
@TearTheRoofOff Just because a large number of people or a majority are enjoying it doesn't make it right by default. I'm not even sure there is right and wrong regarding this, only opinions (like I was voicing my opinion earlier).
Sure, SMW has aged quite well (=timeless looks), but it's still no match for NSMB(U) (or a game like Rayman Legends) with regard to progress/innovation for a million reasons.
Apart from the improved graphics, NSMB has a lot of things that SMW doesn't have: 4-player mode, walljump, double jump, triple jump, flip jump, backflip, long jump, spinning, ground pound, several new power-ups etc.
The fact that you and me still enjoy playing SMW doesn't mean it's not obsolete because there is a vastly improved version out there.
And that's okay because SMW is 26 years old. Back then there was no better way to produce such a game. But nowadays there is. So why the hell would anyone develop a game with outdated elements? And why are people celebrating this like it's a good thing? That's what I don't get.
And for cave paintings vs. Netflix: cave paintings are inferior in that they don't have sound, don't have moving images (=video), the space for telling stories is limited (= the end of the cave wall) and in comparison with photos, the pictures aren't even accurate.
Sure, you can look at cave paintings and appreciate what the cave man did with limited resources and basic techniques back then. But it can never beat videos in any regard.
In the same way, pixel art is very limited and basic, like children's drawings (excluding extremely talented kids, of course). Using pixel art is just a lame excuse for being too lazy to learn the proper techniques and the sad thing is that people (like you just did) actually let themselves be fooled and think this is a fine art form. It's not. Pixel art is what I made with paint as a teenager. It's not a fine art, it's a beginner's art form.
Take Minecraft, an immensely successful game with awful graphics. It only has these awful graphics because Notch was developing it alone and didn't have the resources to implement better graphics. Meanwhile, other indie games (like Empyrion, for example) offer very similar elements but with better graphics (and Empyrion still doesn't offer high-end graphics).
And don't get me started with old movies. They're basically all terrible and haven't aged well. It's so ridiculous seing how bad actors were acting in the earlier days or how bad the costumes looked or how prehistoric the special effects were. Forget what I wrote about old video games, old movies are 10x worse.
But surely the same can't be said about works of art, musical recordings or architecture, mainly because less has changed in those sectors and they generally age a lot better.
Anyway, I know I can't change your mind, but I really don't get why people actually want inferior game design. Axiom Verge might even have the best gameplay of all games, that still doesn't justify the outdated graphics in my opinion. I'm not even saying they should offer top-notch graphics, but there are tools like Unity out there which is free for Wii U developers, so if they wanted, they could've made Axiom Verge with decent graphics at least.
There are lots of 2D indie games with beautiful graphics (e.g. Limbo, Beatbuddy...), why not this one?
I'm definitely getting this one .. Finally a game I can spend some time in!!
It's kool if you don't get it.. I'm not mad at you for it .. Different strokes different folks
Twenty bucks seems a little steep for this game. There are still games that I can get that have gotten stellar reviews for the same, or close to the same, price.
So here's where I am right now. I have a 10% discount birthday coupon that I can use towards a game at Bestbuy or GameStop. Should I get axiom verge? Or should I use my coupon and buy Bayonetta 2?
What does the 2 settings for video in the options do?
The game was just GOOD imo.
It does make me right by default in the sense that I'm arguing that the style is popular for various reasons, which it is. This might not directly challenge your concerns, but it's an inescapable observation that cannot be refuted. Our ultimate concerns, though, are indeed opinions, you are quite right.
'Axiom Verge might even have the best gameplay of all games, that still doesn't justify the outdated graphics in my opinion'
Graphics aren't everything and not everything needs realistic, detailed graphics that utilize all of the hardware. It just doesn't. It really, REALLY doesn't. Otherwise we can ONLY have high detail, sensory saturation going forward, rather than minimalist, abstract forms that focus more on isolated gameplay elements. This is the crux of our disagreement it seems.
Also, I think Super Mario World is a better game than NSMBU purely because of the gameplay and level design. I don't need 10 extra functions and more detailed graphics to make the game 'better'. I think it is ACTUALLY a worse game, despite being a good one.
Also, kudos on implying that the creator of this game was lazy. That's a laugh.
Also, regarding music, production techniques have come on leaps and bounds over the years, yet plenty of recording artists actually desire the older style sounds in their work, especially in hiphop where they tend to use old samples of funk tunes and such. The reason? Because they enjoy the sound. They just do. A heavily compressed and mixed modern pop song does not sound 'better'.
It's perfectly ok to voice an opinion about your retro concerns, but I find that you're on the losing side of this argument. Video games are an art form, just like anything that has to be created. If your argument is that they should use newer technology, let me point out that there's plenty of games out there that use newer technology and are much lesser games than what we have here. Are those games automatically better because they use the latest and greatest technology? Or at the very least, is this game now lesser cause it uses retro graphics? I find that to be a flawed argument on the subject of what a "game" should/could be.
By this logic does that mean that movies like The Artist, should automatically get criticized because it was a (mostly) silent film and in black and white in the year 2011?
I can tell you that a lot of my friends felt the same way you do about "going back in time," and didn't even consider seeing it cause they could not imagine a black and white movie without any speaking. It was even shown in 4:3! What nonsense!
In all seriousness, you know what though? It was an excellent film, by being able to do so much, with so little. It was quite a refreshing experience. It won 5 academy awards, and got high praise from those who saw it (earned an 87% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes' audience score). I find it a complete shame that lots of people just stayed home cause they couldn't get past the "style." Even more of a shame is those who saw it, and hated it only because it was silent and in black and white.
Speaking as an artist myself, I can tell you that sometimes it can be fun to make something from an older era; to push the limits of having limits, so to speak. More often than not, having limits makes us better artists to utilize what we have. What matters here though is how this game plays, how it feels, and if it achieves it's "Metroid feel." That's what the review is based on, and that's why they gave it a 10/10, whether you agree with it or not.
Let me be clear; you are entitled to like what you like (and lots of people feel the same way you do, I might add), but if you want my honesty, your bias is likely ruining some good gaming adventures cause you just can't get past how something looks. I'm not necessarily saying that's wrong, but I do find that to be a shame.
Whoah, a 10! This looks and sounds awesome, so I'll download someday. I first wait for a discount, though.
@MoonKnight7 Agree with every point.
Such a fantastic game and well deserve of that 10. This game is what Nintendo needs to look at cause this is just what we want our Metroid to be.
Just got it last night. I haven't played much (got to 2nd boss) but I'm definitely liking what I'm seeing so far. I think it'll fill my Metroid void nicely until Nintendo finally releases a new one.
Having played a good amount of the game so far, I think a perfect 10 is too high. It's a great game and worth your money if you're a metroid fan, but not perfect. More like an 8, maybe 9 if you really want to stretch it. There's too much dialogue that intentionally holds back key details for no reason, the storytelling and writing while not bad it feels a bit "amateur" for lack of a better term, some apparent attempts at humour that break the atmosphere (like when you get the syringe-thing), and a sense of being lost because you can traverse a lot of the map without knowing if you should be getting so ahead of yourself. Plus the address disruptor doesn't unblock all glitched blocks from the start, without it being explicitly stated or hinted at which ones you can un-glitch, making you wonder if you should really go back to the many ones you encounter at the beginning, or if you might be pressing the wrong buttons. Again, it is a great, fun, enjoyable game that deserves to be praised and played, but it's definitely not perfect. I applaud and respect Mr. Happ for singlehandedly creating such a great game, but IMO the "indie/amateur" feel of it's construction shows enough that makes it less than perfect.
EDIT: Also the graphics are amazing, some the best pixel art ever made, but in several cases it's hard to tell what's an enemy, an item, a wall or just decoration.
I give it an 11.
Yea, that's right. An 11.
One of the most awesome games i have ever played.
I really hope we see a sequel at some point.
I want to see more games like this over time.. i appreciate and welcome the pixel art direction.
Playing this right now I think 8/10 would be more fitting it's great not perfect
I love to play labor of love games like this and Cave Story.
Coincidentally, both this and Cave Story were developed by one man over five years.
Tap here to load 59 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...