Some games make you feel like entering a strange and hostile place completely on your own. Not being in control of the situation, but being at the mercy of whatever lurks there. Usually it doesn’t take long and you can see right through the level design, gameplay and story. From this moment on, the experience often gives way to controlled play. Axiom Verge is different. Because although it initially looks like a copy of Super Metroid and thus offers familiar gameplay, the interplay of story fragments, pixel art, enemy design and soundtrack ensures a completely independent gaming experience. Whenever I thought I had the game figured out, it disturbed me with something unexpected.
The player’s feeling is reflected in the protagonist Trace. When a boss appears, he doesn’t start fighting, but tries to talk himself out of it. He doesn’t understand what’s happening to him and has no agenda. And most of the time I, as a player, didn’t know what I was supposed to do or why I was doing it. So after I had stumbled through different areas of the game for a while and had collected some gadgets, I entered the caves of KUR fort he first time. In the transition between two areas, the screen fades to black for a moment and the music stops until the track of the next area begins. Just before I could see the next screen, I was struck by strange, otherworldly chants that had me standing there for a while in awe of what was ahead. The game had made no effort to warn me of the area through dialogue lines or graphic elements such as a bunch of corpses in front of the entrance. It was nothing more than the track “Inexorable” that triggered this feeling in me and spread a wonderful feeling of discomfort. At that point, at the latest, I knew that I was playing something very special. Everything that had me irritated but also excited about the game was reflected in this piece of music and strongly reinforced by it.
Axiom Verge is a game by Thomas Happ. He also made the music. Capable guy.
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