Axiom Verge 2 Review — More Vania Than Metroid

Axiom Verge 2 is almost a sequel in name only. It’s still a metroidvania, and there are a couple of minor similarities between developer Thomas Happ’s latest game and its 2015 predecessor, but these are minor aspects when compared to everything that’s new and divergent about this unexpected sequel. Considering how revered the first Axiom Verge was as an affectionate homage to Metroid, presenting something that’s vastly different is a surprising approach when building on those original foundations would have been more than enough for most. Instead, Axiom Verge 2 is a bold, daring, and ambitious sequel that falters in a few select areas.

One such area is the game’s story, which starts much like the first game, as our human protagonist is transported to a bizarre alien world. This time around, you play as billionaire CEO Indra Chaudhari, who ventures into an Antarctic research base–and eventually another reality–in search of her missing daughter. This clear-cut story thread does just enough to keep the 10-hour adventure ticking along, but everything around it is coated in the kind of jargon-heavy lore that can only be fleshed out by finding all of the notes hidden throughout the game world. Reading each of these abandoned jottings does fill in some of the blanks left by the frugal narrative, but they’re mostly so dense with impenetrable technobabble that it isn’t worth seeking them out.

Fortunately, the narrative mostly takes a backseat to your exploration of its labyrinthian map. While your journey begins in the snowy tundra of the Antarctic, the adventure eventually takes you through several distinct biomes, such as an arid desert and flooded temple, that marks a clear departure from the subterranean expanse of the first game. These are detailed environments, too, with a sense of scale that extends far beyond the 2D foreground, with snow-capped mountain ranges and verdant forests stretching out into the horizon. If the first game was inspired by the “Metroid” part of the genre’s namesake, then Axiom Verge 2 leans more heavily into the “Vania” side of the equation, swapping out the dark confines of its underground maze for a more spacious and detailed environment.

Continue Reading at GameSpot

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