Those of you who read my last post probably thought you would never have to hear about Axiom Verge ever again. Well, think again, because now it’s time to talk about Axiom Verge 2!
Axiom Verge 2 is, as would be expected, the sequel to Axiom Verge. I really enjoyed my time with Axiom Verge 2 although I’m not sure most people would agree with me on why I think it’s better than the first game. In fact, I know most people don’t agree with me based on the reviews I’ve seen online.
Although it was made by the same guy (Thomas Happ) who developed the first game, it feels very different from Axiom Verge. For starters, it is more melee-focused this time around so don’t expect to find a whole bunch of guns lying around everywhere. There is a boomerang for ranged attacks but I didn’t find it to be very useful, accurate, or fun to use. I used melee attacks for the whole game and found them to be adequate enough to beat the game.
The most puzzling aspect of this switch to melee attacks is the fact that most of the enemies are of the flying variety. I’m sure the more astute observers among you can see the issue here. I’ll continue for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet. It makes it extremely difficult to hit the flying enemies if you only use melee attacks. I found myself jumping around and flailing all in an effort to knock certain enemies out. As I said, there is a boomerang but I didn’t find it to be easy to use. Although I didn’t mind the melee-focused combat this time around, I was baffled by the decision to include so many flying enemies, however.
Another big change from the first Axiom Verge is that all of the bosses (except the last one and one in the middle) are optional. You can straight up just run past most of the bosses. This is an interesting idea but I don’t think I can really get behind it to tell you the truth. This is because, despite my anger towards a few of the bosses in the original game, I did enjoy finding their weaknesses and exploiting them. Here, it doesn’t really matter. None of them seemed to have weaknesses as far as I could tell. I just had to whale on them until they died. Oh well, it was an interesting idea which didn’t work out in my opinion.
While we’re talking about combat, I should probably mention what made many people mad about Axiom Verge 2. Metroidvanias are usually known for their difficult or challenging combat. Axiom Verge 2, by and large, is not a difficult game. There was never an enemy nor a fight where I got really pissed unlike with the first game. Like I said, most people did not seem to care for this but I actually really liked the fact that it wasn’t as hard. This is because I can still remember my anger issues from my time with Axiom Verge. I did not need any more of that in my life so I was glad it was a little easier this time around.
I forgot to mention it but you play as a new character in Axiom Verge 2. She is known as Indra and she’s a big-time CEO who is drawn to Antarctica by a message concerning her daughter who has been missing for several years. I really liked Indra because she had a “I don’t have time for this” sort of attitude which I could get behind. She really grew on me as the story progressed.
Anyways, she arrives in Antarctica to investigate that message I talked about before. After exploring the abandoned research base there, she discovers a freight elevator. She uses the elevator and soon discovers that she has been transported into a parallel dimension. She also discovers that the research team which has been missing for many years is also there. All this time, they have been looking for a way back. Indra decides that she must help them in order to return to her normal life.
There were a lot of great story moments in Axiom Verge 2. I can’t talk about one of my favorite moments because it would give away one of the conceits of this game. Which is a shame because it is a pretty great moment. Not all of the questions I had were answered in this game which makes me believe there will be a third Axiom Verge which is alright with me.
Another big change from the first Axiom Verge is that there is an upgrade tree. Attack damage, attack speed, drone damage (more on the drone later), hacking speed, and many more categories can be upgraded in Axiom Verge 2. This was perhaps the greatest surprise for me while playing through this game because although it wasn’t a gamechanger, it did demonstrate to me that the developer was going for something different than the first game.
I mentioned hacking before and this is a big part of the game. Enemies can be hacked for a variety of different reasons, doors can be opened, and machines can be programmed to spit out health or energy (which is used for hacking). It was fun to play around with the hacking although it was usually easier and quicker just to beat enemies to death instead of hacking them (the bosses are the exception to this).
I also mentioned a drone before in case you’ve forgotten and it is a big part of Axiom Verge 2. This is mostly because it is used to access what is called the breach. The breach is basically an alternate world that is way more pixelated than the normal map. I spent more time playing as the drone than expected if I’m being honest. I thought it would be boring playing as that little machine but it has its own items and gear for moving around which made it a lot of fun.
One thing Axiom Verge 2 made me appreciate is all the effort it must take to make a Metroidvania with a big and sprawling map. This is especially true for one person. Remember, both of these games were made by one guy. It must have taken a lot of work to make sure players can’t skip ahead through the map without getting the appropriate item or powerup. It must be made in such a way that it feels gratifying to explore while also providing a challenge.
And let me tell you that there were a few moments where the exploration did prove to be a challenge for yours truly. Axiom Verge 2 does drop a waypoint on the map which shows where the next major story beat is. Never fear exploration fans because that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a straight line to that point on the map. There was always a lot of zigzagging through areas and a lot of exploration with the drone in the aforementioned breach before I found the correct path forward.
I got lost more than a couple of times while playing but I want you all to know that I only looked up the correct way once. I stuck it out the other times until I found what I was looking for. And, when I did look up a walkthrough that one time, I had a good laugh because I had walked past the way I had needed to go about half a dozen times without realizing it was right there. That moment made all the frustration of getting lost evaporate in an instant because it was just too damn funny.
One other reason why I didn’t get as frustrated when I got lost is because (and this may be a spoiler to some) there is fast travel in Axiom Verge 2. If you can recall, there was no fast travel option in the first Axiom Verge which made getting lost all the more annoying. Not so in Axiom Verge 2. You can jump around from save point to save point at your leisure without having to go through the same areas over and over again. Please note that this fast travel is locked behind an item you have to find first. I didn’t care that it was because, in my humble opinion, it’s still the greatest improvement of all over the first game.
On the subject of items, there are a ton of them in this game. It became a little confusing after a while trying to remember which item did what. Especially when you’re trying to select the appropriate item from the quick select menu because all it gives is the item’s name. The problem is that all the items have alien names so they weren’t all that memorable.
Case in point, I returned to Axiom Verge 2 about a week after I had finished it to capture footage for my YouTube video. I could not, for the life of me, remember what half of the items did. I had to look them up in the menu and I still couldn’t keep them all straight. It’s a lot easier if you play the game over a few days instead of spreading it out over time but it is still a daunting task trying to remember which item does what.
I also have to give a shoutout to the soundtrack in Axiom Verge 2 before I go as well. There are some phenomenal tracks in this game. Longtime readers will know that I always appreciate a good soundtrack when I hear one and lucky for me Axiom Verge 2 has one.
This is the last thing, I promise. I would like to give Axiom Verge 2 an award. I assure you that this award is very real and was definitely not made up on the spot. So, without further ado, I hereby give Axiom Verge 2 the “Alternative Gameplay” Award! This award is for the games that made me change my preferred style of play. Axiom Verge 2 is the first and only game to ever make me use the D-Pad instead of the analogue sticks. And, I have to say, I rather enjoyed the experience. That’s your lesson for the day, folks! Get out there and try something new!
Axiom Verge 2 is very different from its predecessor in that it is more melee and exploration-focused. It was a lot of fun exploring the map and uncovering new upgrades and items. I really liked the story as well even though it didn’t answer all of my questions. All-in-all, I enjoyed my time with Axiom Verge 2 more than the first game. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Axiom Verge 2 is that I am looking forward to its sequel.
Thank you all for reading. Sorry for the break last week. I was sick. Do not worry though, I have some good reviews coming up here soon! Thanks again. Bye!