Reviews - Updated on March 30, 2022

The first Axiom Verge, even several years after its release, remained an inventive and catchy metroidvania. Until now, she can be considered one of the best representatives of the genre, and few people managed to repeat her success. The announcement of the sequel came as a surprise. Over the continuation of the creator of the original Tom Hupp (Tom Happ) also worked alone. True, calling Axiom Verge 2 a sequel is not entirely correct – in many ways it is a completely different game, and in a sense this is more of a drawback.

A change of scenery

Take, for example, the plot. There is no introductory video in the spirit of the animated comics, which was in the first part – the game starts with a helicopter landing and a couple of dialogues with the pilot, after which we can already control the character. To find out the plot of the story, you need to sit in the main menu for a couple of seconds, and then the wall of text will tell us what the game is about.

And Axiom Verge 2 tells about Indra Chaudhary, the new main character. She is the founder of a large conglomerate who took advantage of a stroke of luck to buy out an almost entire rival organization after its owner, Elizabeth Hammond, went missing in Antarctica. Hammond invented a FTL communicator capable of zero-latency computation. And when Indra turned on its first prototype, a message awaited her, in which the heroine was invited to Antarctica – supposedly there she would be able to find her daughter Samara, who disappeared without a trace many years ago.

Axiom Verge 2: Overview

There are much more people who are ready to chat here than in the original.

Shortly after arriving, strange things happen to Indra: she hears someone’s voice in the cave, falls into the water because of the collapsed floor, chokes and resurrects. Then he gets acquainted with representatives of the “conglomerate of intelligent machines”, who call themselves part of it, bear the names of gods and goddesses from Sumero-Akkadian mythology and bestow abilities on the heroine. Here the player is waiting for a verbal mess of terms and names: it all starts with the fact that we are actually in an alternative reality and must build a portal to our world, continues with the Kazakhs who stole the achievements and ends with nanomachines.

Axiom Verge 2: Overview

I don’t know whether the Kazakhs would be happy with such a representation.

The story of the first Axiom Verge was also full of terms and was reluctant to allow the player to figure out all its details, but there it was chic combined with an oppressive atmosphere and a sense of isolation from the whole world. Here, the fate of Indra, her daughter, and all other actors, do not care – they are absolutely uninteresting. Therefore, there is no desire to read the notes by the middle of the game.

It’s the lack of the right atmosphere that makes the sequel’s storytelling so bland compared to the first. The detailed environment in the spirit of the works of Hans Giger has been replaced by open spaces – even if they have become much more diverse (here are glaciers, and a desert, and an underwater region), the zones look faded with rare exceptions. Visually, nothing in Axiom Verge 2 is memorable, while the color palette and some decor elements from the original are stuck in memory for a long time.

Axiom Verge 2: Overview

There are still nice locations in the game.

Pickaxe will always come in handy

All this clearly indicates how much the developer wanted to make the game as different as possible from its predecessor. And in the gameplay, this is also expressed – if earlier we were regularly given a variety of firearms, here we arm ourselves with a pickaxe for close combat and a boomerang for long-range. That is, fights now take place at much shorter distances, and the arsenal is incomparably poorer.

The “two-button” combat system is a bit boring, and good enemy design doesn’t help much. One of the key innovations in the sequel is the ability to break open closed doors and even enemies: slow them down, force them to drop supplies, or even make them allies. But the radius of the hack is small, so it’s easier to either join the battle, or even run past the enemies – anyway, they don’t leave anything behind. As a result, you use hacking only when, according to the plot, you need to open doors.

For the sake of experiment, you can try different ways of hacking, but either you forget about the mechanics, or you are just too lazy to press extra buttons.

But the funniest thing is the bosses. In metroidvanias, we are usually locked with a large enemy in a small room and not released until we defeat him or die. Here, all the bosses, except for two, are optional – you can run past and not get a penalty for it. And the remaining two do not cause any particular problems, since the character is reborn after death in the same room, and the bosses do not restore health. Well, the battles themselves are shameful – opponents do not change attacks, move slowly and fall apart in a matter of seconds.

Probably, the author wanted to make the sequel more accessible, but I would not call the first Axiom Verge difficult. At least there was no reason to make a sequel so toothless. Especially when you consider that the game can be simplified in the settings even more. At first, you periodically die at the hands of enemies, but over time it becomes almost impossible – as the heroine pumps, her health reserve and attack power become so great that you can run through the shells of enemies.

Axiom Verge 2: Overview

Bosses are even a pity to kill – they are so helpless.

Good game

After so many paragraphs about cons and shortcomings, you probably expect a low rating, but Axiom Verge 2 is still hard to call a passer. Compared to the last game, it really looks weak, but it is still a fun metroidvania with an interesting map design and an excellent progression system. As you progress, you gain abilities that you did not expect, and it’s impatient to return to the old areas to use them for the sake of collecting collectibles.

Such brilliant ideas as the “Destroyer of Address” from the first part are not in the sequel, but there are others. In particular, a parallel world called the Rift, in which we control a drone and climb into hard-to-reach areas of the main map. The drone has its own abilities, it meets unique opponents, and at the same time, the Rift card does not repeat the usual one. Therefore, spending time in the Rift is no less interesting than outside it.

Axiom Verge 2: Overview

The pixels in the Rift are noticeably larger than on a normal map.

The way the new skills change the gameplay is just as exciting as in the first game. I won’t spoil the experience by listing all the abilities, but wall climbing alone is enough to make exploring the map even more exciting than at the beginning of the passage. Since in the “ordinary” world we control not only Indra, but also a drone, by the end of the game the set of active skills expands significantly.

Before launching Axiom Verge 2, you need to remember that in many ways this is not the same game as the original was. There is a completely different atmosphere here, a different gameplay with a modified combat system and its own “chips” – some successful, some not so good. While the useless bosses and uninteresting story make it seem like the game was rushed to completion, it remains a fun metroidvania that makes you want to explore the whole map and collect everything. But from the second part of such an amazing game, you expect much more.

Pros: a large map that you explore in the best traditions of metroidvania; excellent progress system, constantly throwing up new abilities; thanks to a separate card in the Rift, it seems like he got two games for the price of one.

Cons: the story is uninteresting, and the main character has no reason to empathize; primitive combat system and low difficulty; infamous bosses, with which most often you can not fight at all.

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