Axiom Verge is a Metroidvania video game by American indie developer Thomas Happ. The game was originally released in March and April 2015 for PlayStation 4, and May 2015 for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux. A PlayStation Vita version was released in April 2016. The Wii U and Xbox One versions were released in North America and Europe in September 2016. A PlayStation 4 version was released in North America in March 2015 and in April 2015 in Europe and Australia. A Nintendo Switch version was released in October 2017.
|Developer(s)||Thomas Happ Games|
|Publisher(s)||Thomas Happ Games|
|Engine||Microsoft XNA (Windows) / MonoGame (non-Windows platforms)|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo Switch|
Axiom Verge is a side-scroller action-adventure game where the player controls Trace, a scientist who, after suffering a crippling injury, wakes up in an ancient and high-tech world. The game focuses on action and exploration, and features over 60 items and power-ups. The gameplay borrows elements from classic games such as Metroid, Contra, Blaster Master, and Bionic Commando, among others.
Trace is a scientist on Earth who works in a laboratory when a frozen pressure valve causes an explosion that knocks him out. He awakens in the alien world of Sudra, where Elsenova, one of the Rusalki, giant war machines remaining from the Sudran civilization, asks for his help to stop Athetos, a mad scientist who destroyed the Sudrans long ago. As Trace explores Sudra in order to restore power to Elsenova and the other remaining Rusalki in preparation to confront Athetos, he discovers that he and Athetos are the same person.
Trace then remembers that the explosion on Earth turned him crippled and blind, but allowed him to see things from a new perspective and formulate a new, revolutionary theory regarding the laws of physics. But Trace's findings were ridiculed by the scientific community, who shunned him, leading them to start calling him "Athetos" (Greek for "without place"). By using his new knowledge, Trace managed to travel between Earth and Sudra, where he used the advanced technology he found to heal his body. Elsenova also reveals that Trace, now calling himself Athetos, discovered that there is a world beyond Sudra with a far more advanced civilization that the Sudrans have kept hidden due to religious taboo, but unable to reach a compromise with them, he used a biological weapon to exterminate the entire civilization as part of his plan to bring this technology back to Earth. Trace also discovers that he is a clone from the original Athetos, back from the days when he first arrived on Sudra.
Once knowing all the truth, Trace decides to keep fighting along the Rusalki against Athetos, eventually helping them to defeat him. After Elsenova kills Athetos, she sends Trace back to Earth and back in time to the point of the lab accident aftermath, altering history so that the event does not leave him injured, but he develops an obsession with returning to Sudra and starts researching on it, implying that he is bent on following Athetos' path.
If the player ends the game with a high completion rate, just as Trace is about to succeed on his research, Athetos himself appears saying that he cannot outrun himself, and after telling him that it is "time to wake up", he shoots him.
Development and releaseEdit
Axiom Verge is an independent project by Petroglyph Games engineer Tom Happ, who has worked on games such as End of Nations, NFL Street, and the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series. Happ also worked on a Game Boy Advance project named Orn, a small Metroid fangame. He is the sole developer, artist, and musician of the game, and began work on it in March 2010 as a side project.
An alpha build of the game was submitted to the 2012 Dream Build Play challenge on May 15. The game was originally expected to be released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 in 2013, but was ultimately delayed. In 2014, Axiom Verge was included in Indie Statik's list of Top 100 Most Anticipated Indie Games Of 2014. In April 2014, it was announced that Axiom Verge would be released for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in early 2015. On May 14, 2015, Axiom Verge was released for Linux, Microsoft Windows, and OS X. The PlayStation Vita version of the game was released in North America on April 19, 2016, and in Europe the following day.
Back in March 2015, it was revealed that a Wii U version has been initially considered, but was not possible at the time due to technical issues, particularly with the game's engine, MonoGame, lacking native support for Nintendo's platform. However, Nintendo were interested in having Axiom Verge come to the Wii U. In March 2016, it was confirmed the game would finally arrive on Wii U, and was slated for a September 1, 2016 release in North America and Europe. Thomas Happ originally intended to include an unlockable Samus Aran costume in the Wii U version, but Nintendo did not approve. At one point, a Nintendo 3DS version of Axiom Verge was also considered. Thomas Happ announced after the Nintendo Switch was revealed that he hoped Nintendo would send him a developer kit so he can begin porting Axiom Verge to the Switch. A Nintendo Switch port has since been confirmed alongside the special, physical Multiverse Edition (read below for more information).
In October 2015, Thomas Happ Games teamed up with IndieBox, a monthly subscription box service, to create a custom-designed, physical release of Axiom Verge. The limited, individually numbered, collector's edition included a flash drive with a DRM-free copy of the game, official soundtrack, instruction manual, Steam key, and several custom-made collectible items. High demand for this physical version caused the IndieBox website to crash.
In February 2017, Spanish game distributor BadLand Games announced they are collaborating with Thomas Happ to publish Axiom Verge as a retail title. In addition to a standard retail release only for the PlayStation 4, a special, limited Axiom Verge: Multiverse Edition will be available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Wii U during Q2 2017 in both North America and Europe. The Multiverse Edition will include a physical copy of the game, a deluxe booklet with developer commentary and art, a double-sided poster, and a making-of documentary on DVD. BadLand Games expects to announce the Multiverse Edition for other platforms later on. In June 2017, it has confirmed that the Multiverse Edition will release worldwide in the following August, and will also be available for the Nintendo Switch with exclusive Soundtrack CD. However, for reasons unknown, the release has been delayed to October 17, 2017.. That date was not kept either, and ultimately the Multiverse Edition was released on November 21, 2017, in North America. The European release happened on January 29, 2018. A physical edition of the Wii U version was distributed by Limited Run Games on March 29, 2019.
The game received critical acclaim upon release, with praise particularly directed to its setting, weapons, boss battles, control, upgrades and secrets featured. Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the PlayStation 4 version 84/100 based on 61 reviews.
Jeff Gerstmann from Giant Bomb gave the game a perfect score, praising its huge variety of weapons, as well as its rewarding and worthwhile upgrades. He also praised the game for encouraging players to reach 100% completion, the audio and visuals for evolving in meaningful ways while being similar to those of the 8-bits and 16-bits era. Regarding the difficulty of the game, he stated that it "makes things challenging without making them overtly frustrating". He summarized the review by saying that "If you've ever been into this sort of action-adventure game, Axiom Verge is positively terrific."
Peter Brown from GameSpot gave the game an 8/10 rating, praising its high replay value, surprising and rewarding story, occasionally breathtaking scenery as well as the setting, which he stated "instills a strong mixture of curiosity and dread". The game's secrets, large selection of weapons and soundtracks were also praised. He also particularly praised one of the weapons featured, the Address Disruptor, calling it "one of the most interesting weapons or tools that I've ever seen in a game." He summarized the review by saying that "Axiom Verge is a game that's easy to fall in love with because it hits so many high notes. It takes the Metroidvania model and adds layers of ingenuity that are in a league all of their own. It's not a stretch to say that Axiom Verge is better than the games that inspired it, because it's so inventive and thoughtfully crafted."
Marty Sliva from IGN gave the game a 7.9/10. While praising its satisfying character progression, challenging boss encounters, responsive control and great sense of movement and combat, he criticized the forgettable story, characters that can't be related to and the map-design, which never evolves throughout the game and discourages exploration. He added that the game doesn't have enough distant and memorable regions. He also criticized the game for being too familiar with the Metroid series and for lacking a clear objective.
Thomas Ella of Hardcore Gamer gave the game a 4/5 and described it as "a 2D side-scrolling game with a vast, open world divided into distinct rooms, an array of weapons and power-ups and a map screen laid out in a grid for easy tracking of where you’ve been and where you might need to go next."
|The Game Awards 2015||Best Independent Game||Nominated|||
- "Feels Like Coming Home..."
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- "Nintendo Switch e-Shop released!".
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- Thomas Happ (2003). "Orn". Computer Science. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- "Press release for Axiom Verge". Gamasutra. April 17, 2012. Archived from the original on May 11, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
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- Wawro, Alex. "Devs React: Nintendo unveils its hybrid-handheld console Switch".
- "Developers of Axiom Verge, Shovel Knight share their thoughts on Nintendo Switch". Nintendo Everything. October 20, 2016.
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