It was the year 2014, and my video game career so far had been that of an unknown actor in bigger studios and publishers. Hypnotix, EA, Petroglyph. I had been making my own side game for about three or four years at this point, and Sony bet on me. They played an early version of Axiom Verge and saw potential that others might not have seen, and that made all the difference.
They showcased Axiom Verge at their booth at E3, where it won Best in Show awards from IGN and GameSpot. They have included the demo on their kiosks at major retailers. They lent me their megaphone to tell the world about my little game.
While working on Axiom Verge 2, I felt that I owed both Sony and all early Axiom Verge fans to bring it to PS4 and PS5. I can’t imagine going any other way. I am delighted to confirm here and now that the PS4 version will be available on day one. I’ll do my best to get the PS5 version ready for launch, but it might take a little longer as I really want to take advantage of this in-game hint system!
If you haven’t heard of Axiom Verge, I’ll give you a quick overview. Axiom Verge is a 2D pixel art action exploration game about a scientist named Trace who wakes up in an alien world called Sudra after a lab accident. I’m not going to spoil the story for those who haven’t played it (which begs the question: why don’t you ??). You can also shoot many creatures with tons of different weapons and find hidden areas on a maze map.
Most people thought the sequel would pick up where it left off; namely, on the relationship between Trace and the antagonist, Athetos. But Axiom Verge fans also know how to expect the unexpected. In fact, I kept a secret from everyone. The story of Trace, Elsenova, and Athetos is just a small side story in a much larger universe spanning thousands of years and around seven or eight games. Axiom Verge 2 is about Indra, a mysterious billionaire / tech genius who finds himself in an alternate version of Earth in Antarctica. While there are references to the first game, you won’t see how they relate until Axiom Verge 3. Because these are separate experiences, you won’t need to have played Axiom Verge. 1 to take advantage of Axiom Verge 2.
It would be boring both for me as a developer and for Axiom Verge fans if Indra interacted with the world the same way Trace did. I didn’t want Axiom Verge 2 to be Axiom Verge 1… only bigger. So while the basic DNA of the game is intact, especially exploring a maze-like world map, the majority of the gameplay and environments are quite different.
Firstly, since it’s located on Earth, the world has a much more Earth-like feel with gentle slopes instead of the alien boulder landscape. You will notice in this first tile set how different the look and feel of the game is from the original:
And here it is in action:
While I try to put my blinders on the opinions of others on my games and stay true to my original vision, a common theme emerged when I watched people play. There were people who wanted the game to be much harder, and there were those who wanted it to be easier. Some loved exploring, but came up with a boss they couldn’t get past. It happened to me. I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop playing a game because of a bottleneck.
I have approached the problem of difficulty in two ways. First of all, I let players adjust their own difficulty settings. Rather than choosing between Easy, Normal, and Hard modes, players can adjust both the damage they deal and the damage enemies deal to you. Second, the patterns are optional. You will be rewarded for defeating them, but the days of them standing between you and the rest of the game are over.
But aside from the boss and landscape approach, the combat itself is very different. For one thing, Indra doesn’t have the vast array of weapons that Trace had. She starts off with a pickaxe and fights a lot up close and personally. Luckily for her, it’s all about brains rather than muscles, and she can use her technical skills as a tech genius to hack her enemies.
There is so much more ground to cover, but I’m doing my best to avoid spoilers. I’m in the process of putting the finishing touches on the game as we speak and can’t wait to release it later this summer. I can’t wait to see what the legion of PlayStation fans find out.