Creating a sequel to any well-loved game will always be hard to do, so Thomas Happ took a bold risk by deciding to make Axiom Verge 2. The original Axiom Verge was an excellent Metroidvania, and the sequel builds on everything the original did right.
Axiom Verge 2 remains a Metroidvania and, like Axiom Verge, was made by the one-man team of Thomas Happ and Thomas Happ Games LLC. It is available on PC as an Epic Games Store exclusive, PlayStation 4 and 5, and the Nintendo Switch. I was a huge fan of the original game, so as soon as I knew the sequel was coming, I was already looking forward to seeing what Happ managed to create this time around. The fact that the game was shadow released at a Nintendo Indie World Showcase just adds to the hype and intrigue.
The gameplay for Axiom Verge 2 feels incredibly similar to the original, which is a huge plus for me, but it’s not necessarily a direct sequel. You can absolutely hop right into Axiom Verge 2 without playing the original first (although I highly recommend you play the original at some point). The game follows Indra, who Happ describes as “the mysterious billionaire behind the worldwide Globe 3 conglomerate.” There are all-new characters, powers, and enemies, and it takes place in an entirely new world.
In typical Metroidvania fashion, you’ll find yourself hopping across platforms and battling enemies scattered throughout the world as you unlock new areas. As you discover urns that grant you new abilities, you’ll find that previously inaccessible areas are now ripe for exploration. The world is ever-expanding and growing, and I found myself incredibly immersed. The combat and exploration are very standard, but that is not a bad thing. It’s nice to have a sense of familiarity when exploring an all-new world. I will say that the constant backtracking can get a little old at times, but it is expected from a game in this genre.
One thing I want to highlight with both the combat and the exploration is the accessibility settings. Axiom Verge 2 gives you the option to change the amount of damage the player receives and deals to enemies and slow down the speed of the game or increase the contrast of the platforms compared to their backgrounds. As someone who often struggles to see platforms in games, especially in darker areas, this is very helpful. Making his games accessible to players is very important to Happ, and I’m very glad that is the case.
The fascinating thing Axiom Verge 2 does to set itself apart is introducing breaches to an alternate dimension. The way it correlates with the main world of Axiom Verge 2 is also incredibly interesting and well-done. As Happ puts it, “Going into any more detail about how the breach and overworld interact would start bleeding into the territory of over-spoiling,” but rest assured that you will have a blast exploring the alternate dimension. It is this new mechanic that makes, what Happ describes, a “2-in-1” game that truly sets a new standard for indie Metroidvania games. I could go on and on about how much I loved the way he did this, but you’ll have to experience it for yourself to grasp how great it is truly.
Beyond just playing great, the world of Axiom Verge 2 really comes to life through Happ’s incredible artwork. I am a sucker for retro-style graphics in any game, and Happ hits it out of the park again here. There are many parts of the game where the player is surrounded by darkness and must use their flashlight to find their way forward. I found the use of darkness to really create a mysterious vibe. I didn’t always know what would happen when I made a jump, and I loved that mystery. The music throughout the game also really helps build an interesting and mysterious atmosphere. As a musician, I was impressed by Happ’s ability to create such an amazing soundtrack by himself. What’s even more impressive is he has managed to do that with two games now in the series. Hats off to him!
Overall, Axiom Verge 2 is an outstanding game that really sets the bar for future indie Metroidvania games. It builds on the original’s success by introducing new mechanics and ideas that help freshen up a classic and sometimes stale genre. I loved every second of my journey as Indra, and I know you will too.
Axiom Verge 2
Axiom Verge 2 is an outstanding game that really sets the bar for future indie Metroidvania games. It builds on the original’s success by introducing new mechanics and ideas that help freshen up a classic and sometimes stale genre. I loved every second of my journey as Indra, and I know you will too.