It was some time ago that I claimed Axiom Verge to be Metroid 5. It wasn't until this weekend that my brain finally accepted it as a new 'home'. It's something that happened before with Super Metroid and Zero Mission especially. I played these games so many times, that they became cosy and friendly places to dwell in.
Completing Axiom Verge in Hard mode on PS4 and completing a Normal run in tandem on Steam, cemented this feeling for Happ's game. This means two things:
- I lost the sense of wonder I had with the game when I started playing. Surprises and playing with the genre's staples only last a limited time and Axiom Verge's was clearly up.
- I gained a sense of meditative trance while playing the game. I usually play metroidvanias and similar games with podcasts in the background as a way of fidgeting while listening. Axiom Verge fitted this habit so well that I had difficulty in detecting the differences between Hard and Normal modes.
After completing these runs, each room in the game now evokes a to-do list of actions. Locations of items become second nature to find. I don't always remember what I'll find exactly; I only know there's something around the corner.
It's not the first time this has happened with a game of course. Nor will it be the last. Bloodborne is deliciously close to this feeling, but considering I'm still in my first run of that game, it'll take a bit longer. Axiom Verge has finished teaching me how to play and I find myself giddy in beginning to explore potential speedrun routes.
There's certainly room to better my time. My first run clocked in at about 16 hours, the Hard run at around 8 and the second Normal at around 7. Loads of areas and challenges now show new ways in. I also noticed picking up a lot of items 'out of order': some I picked up way earlier the second time around, others much, much later.
The sense that Axiom Verge is Metroid 5, is much stronger now. Its language of actions feels now much more defined. Something that took a while to grow with Metroid Fusion as well. That game focused on combat. Axiom Verge does something similar in letting you play with a large set of weapons.
It's only during the Hard run that I began truly experimenting with them to get through a few challenging scenes. If there is an enemy giving you trouble, chances are high that the games has a specific weapon that will help you out. Even if they aren't needed.
Axiom Verge really is a fantastic game. Playing it again just hammers it home.