Axiom Verge 2 in the test: Great Metroidvania with flaws

Axiom Verge 2 in the test: Great Metroidvania with flaws

Axiom Verge 2 in the test

In the Metroid-free days (and there are plenty of them, and they are long), fans of Samus' adventures usually lick their fingers for an equivalent substitute. There are tons of Metroidvanias out there, tons of standout Metroidvanias even, and not just on the Switch. But most fail to capture the genre mother's vibe and gameplay - or they just don't want to. Tom Happ appeared like a messiah six years ago and served the starved pack with his one-man indie project Axiom Verge. It had everything: a claustrophobic setting, cool weapons, great level design, terrifying bosses, in short: everything a Metroid fan could want.

Table of contents

1 Often something different 2 The woman with the ice ax 3 Picking on opponents 4 Much more than just ice The successor Axiom Verge 2 was expected with a lot of anticipation, but instead of playing it safe and using the recipe for success a second time, Happ mixed in some innovations and made a decision for innovation instead of tradition. Experiments can go wrong, however, and while Axiom Verge 2 is by no means a bad game, it does not come close to its predecessor. We not only clarify why this is the case, but also why the indie title might be an asset to your game library after all.


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Often something different

Axiom Verge 2 begins with the arrival of Indra at Jones Station in Antarctica. What she's up to and looking for there will only gradually be revealed. Source: PC Games So, first of all, you should free yourself from the expectation of playing the next near-Metroid here. Axiom Verge 2 has nothing in common with its predecessor except the name, developer and genre. This time you play Indra, a millionaire and boss of a dubious company. For a certain reason - we don't want to reveal too much at this point - she sets off for Antarctica and after a short time stumbles into a kind of parallel universe. At least she is not alone there because, on the one hand, various researchers and explorers are stranded there, and on the other hand, programs nestle in her body that call themselves weapons and which, to top it off, also communicate with Indra.

Interesting documents can sometimes be found in the dwellings of people who are also stranded in the parallel dimension. Source: PC Games More examples of these same weapons are hidden in the huge world and give the heroine new skills with which she can then enter and explore further areas - as far as the usual Metroidvania standard food. However, there are two problems, and although this strange parallel world is very similar to the earth we know, it is inhabited by aggressive machine beings. Some of them look as if they were designed by the ancient Sumerians, they have bulls' heads, wings and are also otherwise creepily alien. The second problem is the fact that the way back to Indra's home dimension is blocked, even the stranded scientists are at a loss. The woman is herself, so Indra sets off alone - or in the company of her "weapons" and a small drone to find what she was looking for and then return to her world.

The woman with the ice ax

to the right of Indra, the fountain marks a storage point. This is where you come to after screen death and this is where you secure your progress. Source: PC Games Where Axiom Verge relied on firearms, the sequel focuses on close combat. Just seconds after starting the game, Indra finds the necessary hand tool, an ice ax. Although it's a climbing aid, she uses it on her own to give enemies a few slaps with it - it's a small thing, but the fact that she learns to hold onto cliffs and walls much later doesn't make much sense. But there is also armament for long-range combat, namely a boomerang. Both options don't sound very exciting, and they are - in this mystical world enemies attack with rocket launchers and lasers, while we ourselves only draw primitive weapons.

With her hacking ability, Indra can manipulate opponents and machines. This is how we set the platform in motion. Source: PC Games The fights are definitely one of the less successful aspects of Axiom Verge 2: The hit feedback leaves a lot to be desired and it is not too exciting to hit mecha beings with the ice ax. A great strength of the predecessor were the boss fights, but they don't really convince in Axiom Verge 2 either. There are very few of them, and most of them can be bypassed completely. That may be nice for frustration-sensitive gamers, but the top guys aren't even too dangerous. Most of the time they just fire from all cylinders, not much tactics are required when proceeding. However, the feeling of triumph is also missing when you kill a huge monster.

Picking on opponents

This cattle looks a lot, but can be easily avoided or defeated by simply thrashing on it. Disappointing! Source: PC Games But there are also good ideas that enrich Axiom Verge 2. The drone from the first part returns, and its parts have been expanded. At certain points, Indra can slip into another dimension with the drone. Everything there is much more colorful and pixelated than in the normal environment. It is often necessary to complete sections in these so-called breach areas with the drone in order to then reappear at an altar in the original dimension in a previously inaccessible place. Since the drone is much smaller and moves and fights in a different way than Indra - for example, the mechanical helper catapults itself up the edges with a wire - this provides variety. Outside of the breach areas, Indra can (sometimes she has to) take control of the drone at the push of a button and give it up again.

The map could definitely be more useful. Items and exits of the Breach world are not drawn in, you can only set memories. Source: PC Games By collecting apocalypse containers, the protagonist receives skill points, which she then invests in her health, damage or hacking skills. Hacking? Right, Indra, can control opponents and mechanisms, or infect them with code. Depending on the enemy, after a successful hack - the target must be within the code radius - there are various options to choose from. Opponents can be forced to self-destruct, switch to our side, be deactivated or drop their charge. The higher the skill level, the more numerous and practical the hack options. However, cyber help is simply not needed for most opponents, as you can avoid them or simply destroy them with conventional attacks.

Much more than just ice

Indras Journey also takes you into the depths of a lake. Only with the right updates for her body does she move here as nimbly as on land. Source: PC Games The game world is definitely important with such a Metroidvania. And overall, Axiom Verge 2 has succeeded in doing that. You don't come across a crossover between Sumerian-Babylonian architecture and art as well as an icy scene and robots every day. And although the title theoretically plays in the eternal ice, variety is provided and the surroundings by no means all look the same. For example, Indra is also out and about in old ruins, in a deep lake or in a vast steppe. It has little in common with the narrow tunnels of a space station, of course, but Tom Happ's new game doesn't just go its own way in this respect.

Indra not only wanders through the eternal ice, but also explores varied areas. That makes orientation easier. Source: PC Games While some Metroidvanias are relatively linear (e.g. Unbound further back in the test area), the exploration factor is capitalized in Axiom Verge 2. Sometimes you don't know where to go next, then the motto is search, search, search. Although Indra carries a compass made of lapis lazuli with her, it is anything but helpful and rarely shows where to go from now on. There is also a world map that could be more useful. Players are allowed to set reminder markers themselves, but items are not drawn in, nor are the exit altars, where the drone comes out after a visit to the breach area. For explorers, however, Axiom Verge 2 offers a lot of entertainment. In addition to the apocalypse containers, Indra also finds letters and documents in hidden places that provide more information about the background story.

At these altars, Indra's drone can enter the Breach universe. The purple pixels are an intentional effect to hint at the distortion of reality. Source: PC Games At least theoretically, because the messages interspersed with all sorts of catchphrases such as "nanotechnology" and "root access" probably make sense if you really track down and study every scattered piece of paper, but as a whole they contribute little to fun and understanding the action. It is more pleasant to talk to the few stranded people who are also stuck in the dimension. It's good that these are kept very brief, because the selected font is sometimes difficult to read: H and K, for example, look too similar. One reason for joy is that Axiom Verge 2 has been completely provided with German texts, so the foreign language hurdle does not stand in the way of analyzing the cryptic history.

Axiom Verge 2 is weaker than its predecessor in some respects. However, this predecessor was also an extremely successful genre, and the basic ingredients that make up the game still work well for fans of a Metroid or Castlevania. Most of the elements of Axiom Verge 2 are known from other games, but here is an extraordinary setting that sticks in the memory. No, Tom Happ's new work is not a bad game. The formula just doesn't work as well with changed variables as it once did with Axiom Verge.

My opinion

By Katharina Pache

Chief Editor

[ email protected] Weak fights and an exciting world Maps on the table: Metroid is a series that I haven't had too close ties to for a long time. I am rather indifferent. That's why I didn't care about the open surroundings and the focus on hand-to-hand combat instead of firearms - but I understand if some fans of the predecessor would have wished for something else. On the other hand, I find it unhappy how lax and low-tension the fights are. For example, I raked the flying ox on the opposite side with an ice ax until it was dead. With such banal arguments, the joy of victory is limited. There are certainly people who have a better sense of direction than I do, because in some places I was quite at a loss as to where to go from now on. Here is my tip: If in doubt, go to the breach area. By the way, an all-round good innovation is the teleportation of memory points. That saves Indra a long walk or two! Axiom Verge 2 (PC) 7/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Axiom Verge 2 (NSW) 7/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Pros & Cons Unusual, atmospheric setting Great , varied game world Many learnable skills Uncomplicated fast travel Well hidden secrets and beautiful puzzles Weak fights The plot is rather opaque Map and compass not very helpful More pros & cons ... Conclusion Weakens in fights and bosses, but convinces with great level design

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