[One game, one hour, every Sunday]
Axiom Verge is an homage to the old Super Metroid for the SNES, and the many other “Metroidvania”’s in the world on the older consoles, none of which I have ever played. I hold no nostalgia to that time because I wasn’t even alive then—and when I was I have always been a PC gamer, so console games usually went right by my head. Thus, this is a genre I don’t have a lot of experience with. Yet, I find it fascinating and I’ve heard many good things about Axiom Verge, so I delved in.
This is starting two hours into the experience, as I’ve played it before today.
I wake up, a cybertech egg construction rises up and reveals me inside it. That’s where I always wake up, in an egg, ready to hatch. When I die, I return to the egg, hatching again, no explanation as to why. Little explanation at all for why I am there. Something went wrong, I’m a scientist and the building I was in exploded. That’s what I remember. And now I find myself here, stranded underground with strange beings and androids or synthetic mixes of the two all wanting to kill me.
As I wake up and begin running around, droning retro-synths and looming piano builds up in the background, I immediately remember why I stopped playing last time: I was lost. I didn’t know where to go next. I had just defeated a giant worm-robot-like-thing and now I had no idea where to go from there.
So, with an hour ahead of me I strap in and begin exploring.
The worst part is I’ve already been to most of this place. I’m in a region the game exclaims is called “Zi”, a place full of sandworms, fungus-like things that shoot out projectiles to all sides and jumping octopuses. It’s not a nice place, but I doubt any place down here is. And even though I defeated the boss there, I get out as quick as I can, running through what I have already dubbed as the “Bad Hallway” and getting to the other region of “Kur”.
Oh right. Now I remember this place too: Laser Bastards. Small, innocuous things that roam around their little platforms. But don’t get tricked by their neat appearance: They’ll mess with you if they spot you, shooting out a giant laser that’ll hit you before you know it. New music kicks in, heavily processed, glitchy synth vocals haunt me as I traverse up the long corridor of Laser Bastards until I reach the top. I go right and find some aggressive, giant flies that fortunately aren’t so hard to dispose of, but then I reach a dead end. Nowhere to progress, no abilities in my arsenal that’ll allow me to get through laser walls, or regular walls, or jump up places I can’t reach yet.
A dead end. There was nothing for me at Kur. Dammit.
I traverse back and roam around for a long time until I find my way back in to the old boss chamber in Zi again.
And lo and behold, I was blind the last time I was here. I knew there was a transporting pipe all the way to the right of the room, but I thought I couldn’t reach it. Turns out I had to use my glitch-beam-gun-thingy (I’m really butchering these names. Sorry!) to reveal some hidden platforms that I could jump across. This was, in hindsight, rather obvious, I just hadn’t been rigorous enough in my attempts to look for this last time.
I go in and find something that disturbingly looks like a giant brain in a tube and activate a switch. My robot companion lights up and tells me I did indeed find the Power Filter Switch I was looking for, so that’s good news. She talks to me in pseudo-broken English about the history of this place, and I get a better sense for why I’m there and what my next goal is. But I’ll let you discover that yourself.
The important part (!) is that I got this sick coat that literally
allows me to “walk” through walls (That is to say, I glitch through them
in a rather cool way that looks intentionally broken. It’s pretty
neat). With my newfound power I go back to Kur and go through walls, and
discover a pipe that leads… Outside! Ah, fresh air. New music, strange
star-hives hanging in the sky on wax-crystal-like threads. New
opportunities, and I find myself, finally, a little less lost.