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Axiom Verge 2 Switch Review – A Different Kind of Sequel

Axiom Verge 2 Switch Review – A Different Kind of Sequel

axiom verge 2

Let’s be honest, Axiom Verge 2 has some HUGE shoes to fill. Its the follow-up to arguably one of the best Metroidvanias of the past 20 years, so in that alone, fans of the genre have been eagerly waiting for the release of this sequel. Although I can unfortunately say that it does not live up to the perfection of its original, Axiom Verge 2 is still a fantastic experience with a lot of bold moves and interesting ideas.

SPOILER ALERT: This game is definitely worth your time and money, but it does have its issues. Let’s get into it!

axiom verge 2

The story this time around is that Dr. Elizabeth Hammond revolutionized the world as we know it in 2007 with the invention of the first-ever superluminal communicator. Zero latency computing became the standard, and her company, Hammond Corp, became a household name. Sadly, tragedy befell in 2053, when an entire team of Hammond Corp researchers in Antarctica vanished into thin air, including Dr. Hammond. Without Dr. Hammond, Hammond Corp collapsed and was purchased by Indra Chaudhari, the founder and CEO of the Globe 3 conglomerate.

Upon her acquisition, Indra receives a very cryptic message that says, “Come to Antarctica if you wish to see your daughter again.” Without skipping a beat, Indra rushes to the station in Antarctica, and finds herself sucked into the computing system after powering things on. She vanishes just like the entire Hammond Corp team did, and she begins her journey in a world very foreign to her and trying to find a way back home.

These types of sci-fi stories are always so compelling, because they twist reality just enough to suck us in and have us understand what is happening without it sounding too fabricated or unrealistic. Indra is a solid main character with strong drive, and she will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this situation and return her body to the real world and save her daughter. No matter what.

axiom verge 2

At the start, Indra picks up what is known throughout the Metroidvania universe as a “powerup”, but in Axiom Verge 2, they are called “arms”. These “arms” are not just simple abilities and items to help you get around, but they are also entities with personalities, memories, and even ambitions. It makes the collecting powerups system of the game unique, but this also feeds into the story drastically.

One of the most interesting new ideas for the game is the arm that lets you transfer to a drone that is capable of so much. To be honest, the more I powered up my drone, the more I found myself exclusively using it over the human form, because it is so much more fun to use. The human form is fine and all, but it lacks the gunpower and strength of Trace from the original game. Because of that, relying on the drone becomes easy, since it provides a lot more entertainment and unique gameplay control than the human side. And due to the fact that there are no major guns in Axiom Verge 2, the drone’s arsenal comes off as much more dependable when it comes to traversing and combat.

Gameplay is relatively similar to the original. You are stuck in a digital universe, and like your average Metroidvania, there is a huge map, lots of unlocks, and many secrets to find. The map is very strangely designed this time around, as it projects an image of the area within the rectangular sections. This can make navigating the map a little awkward, because the screen looks way busier with all the extra colors and details. I appreciate what Thomas Happ was going for here, but in the end, I do not think it paid off well. A simple and standard Metroidvania map would serve much better, in my opinion.

axiom verge 2

One incredibly fun idea for Axiom Verge 2 is the Breach. The Breach is a portal area of sorts that overlaps the main map, and it is only accessible to the drone. This area has its own map that you can easily flip to at any point, and some of the best puzzles and secrets in the game require a lot of looking back-and-forth between the Breach map and the regular map to see how manipulating the two maps can gain you access to an otherwise unreachable area. It is a fascinating mechanic that is brilliantly crafted, and it is responsible for some of the best moments in the game.

An area that I was severely disappointed in, although I understand the reasoning, are the bosses. Frankly, there are no real bosses. The giant robot monsters in Axiom Verge 2 are all optional, and defeating them will gain you skill points to level up your human form and drone. Compare these “bosses” to the original Axiom Verge, and there is a lot to be desired, as the boss fights in the original game are some of the most entertaining in Metroidvania history. In the sequel, however, the focus is taken away from these fights in favor of highlighting the story and the more intricate map thanks to the Breach.

Combat overall is quite engaging, although I do still have to highlight the usefulness and utility of the drone. Although Indra’s human form is more powerful in attack, the drone is simply capable of more, especially after obtaining certain powerups/arms and leveling up certain skills. The drone also feels like it moves faster, so even going from point A to point B feels better as the drone, largely thanks to abilities that allow it to climb higher and jump further than the human counterpart.

Unfortunately, I did run into quite a few bugs and glitches during my couple playthroughs, but thankfully none of them broke the game completely or caused me to lose progress. There were a few different times where objects were invisible and interacting with them caused problems like Indra getting stuck inside of a box in the next screen that did not exist in the previous screen. Fortunately, freely traveling to save spots is obtained relatively early in the game, so teleporting out of these scenarios was not a problem. However, these errors do exist, and hopefully they will be patched out soon.

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Another area of the original game that was top-tier and continues into the sequel are both the phenomenal pixel art-style and the fantastic soundtrack. Since Axiom Verge 2 is not a direct sequel to its predecessor, it feels a lot freer when it comes to these two areas. For example, outside of the Breach, the main area looks and feels very earth-like, and seeing weather elements, mountains, and waterfalls in the midst of this digital world feels incredibly different from the original, which is entirely digital and sci-fi feeling. Everything about the design, from the character and enemy models to the backgrounds themselves feel so intimately detailed that it is hard to not appreciate how complex and beautiful this crafted world is.

But not only that, the soundtrack is incredible. It is hard for me not to compare Axiom Verge 2‘s soundtrack to the original, but I cannot really find flaws in either. Although this game’s soundtrack has moments of positivity and hope in it, those sinister and creepy overtones still exist, and the mixture of the two give this sequel a soundtrack unlike any other. The music this time around is a serious journey that communicates perfectly the feelings, angst, and urgency of Indra, and it is simply awesome all the way through. During my second playthrough, I fell in love with it even more, and this may be hard for many people to believe, but I think Axiom Verge 2‘s soundtrack surpasses the first.

Axiom Verge 2 really did have a lot to live up to, and for the most part, it delivers tremendously. Sadly, however, it also fails to deliver in areas that the original game excelled in, and I think that is going to disappoint a lot of fans. Sure, this is not a direct sequel, but when you have “Axiom Verge” in your title, there are expectations, and a couple of those were just not met, particularly the boss fights and the decent amount of bugs and glitches.

That does not mean the game is not worth playing, though, because this is still an expertly created experience with quite a few distinctive elements that make this its own title. In some ways, it probably would have been a better choice to not call this “Axiom Verge 2” but instead refer to it as a story within the Axiom Verge universe. This could have alleviated expectations while still keeping fans excited. Instead, we got a solid game with a couple real letdowns, and that is too bad.

Metroidvania fans will absolutely get their money’s worth with this one, but if you are a diehard of the Axiom Verge series and are looking for more of the game here, you will be disappointed. That’s not to say you cannot enjoy this, but it really is hard not to compare.


Axiom Verge 2 Review provided by Nintendo Link
Publisher: Thomas Happ Games
Developer: Thomas Happ Games
Release Date: August 11, 2021
Price: $19.99£16.19€17,99
Game Size: 371MB

axiom verge 2
0
Amazing
78100
Pros

Excellent Metroidvania with unique puzzles

The Breach mechanic is awesome

The drone is even better

Art and music are top-tier

Cons

Boss fights, or the lack thereof, are disappointing

The map is a bit messy and hard to see

A decent amount of glitches currently

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