video game review: Axiom Verge 2

There’s a lot of posts this week (and next) thanks to a burst of creativity and productivity!

And there weren’t any drawings earlier in the month thanks to Axiom Verge 2, a game I got to play for free on the PS4 thanks to my PSplus subscription.

Axiom Verge 2 is a “MetroidVania” game where you go back and forth in a world and parts of the map open up as you discover power-ups and weapons, and then you backtrack. Other than some boss battles, that’s pretty much the game.

Your character is a businesswoman scientist type who checks on her company outpost in Antarctica to look for her missing daughter, and you’re teleported to a mirror dimension where some of your employees are trapped (though you can’t rescue them) while you get more cryptic messages pushing you on to search for your daughter. Also you get possessed by spirits of the beings from this dimension who give you the power to alternate between a small crablike ball drone and some kind of robotic version of yourself, you also pick up weapons yadda yadda. (I’ve not played the first AV, so I have no idea if it’s a continuation of the story, if there is a story.)

The story’s not something that drives it, frankly. Just keep pushing the boundaries of each part of the map, find a portal where your little drone can go, have it open doors in your world, find a cool weapon. I got really used to the drone because it gets a grappling hook type weapon that lets you launch yourself on ledges, making up for its weak jump ability, and then at some point you can also fly for short distances. You forget that for most of the game you are a human(oid) who wields some powerful swords.

I just love the exploration and trying to find every nook and cranny. This kind of world is a puzzle in itself, to keep exploring to look for things that I missed or see what I can get the little drone into. I also forget that there’s an ability to “hack” into some of the mechanical baddies to have them do things for you, but often it’s not that useful and only occasionally gets you an item or into another part of the map.

I love Metroid. Castlevania, not so much, but I haven’t played anything in that series past the notoriously frustrating 2. I think this is smaller than Metroid or Super Metroid. I know it’s a small studio but I feel like if it’s 16 bit style, there’s room for more room, but then you’d constantly have to make new puzzles out of it and spread those items out further – that would probably be incredibly difficult to plan for its pretty impressive levels. I had to look a few things up during the course of the first playthrough as some things didn’t make sense or that obvious. I also haven’t played a MetroidVania outside of Metroid, at least in a long time. I put it down after a solid weekend of playing it, and got back to drawing.

If you have PS4/PS5 and PSplus, grab it now before it disappears next week.


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