Axiom Verge, the bespoke Metroid-like developed solely by indie designer Thomas Happ, is still getting new content long after it originally came out. A new update will make the game feel like new every time you play by randomizing the order in which you get new weapons and unlock new areas.
Currently available on the game’s Steam and Epic Games Store versions as a beta version, the randomizer originally came about thanks to the work of Axiom Verge’s speedrunning community and, in particular, the creator of the mod who goes by Pozzum.
“[T]hey came up with an unofficial version that required a legal copy of the game to use and have since worked with me to incorporate it into the game as an official mode of the game,” writes Happ in a new developer update. “They spent years working on this and refused any compensation I offered. It was a labor of love, and I’m hugely grateful to all of them.”
As a side-scroller that takes inspiration from Metroid, Axiom Verge revolves around exploring levels, finding new upgrades and power-ups, and then using those to backtrack and reach new areas that were previously blocked by obstacles. The challenging part for any randomizer then is to make sure that things are randomized in such a way that players don’t get stuck in one area without access to the powers needed to progress to the next one.
Happ provided the example of the starting area whose requirement to progres is simply being able to shoot stuff, so any upgrade that meets that criteria can be included in the pool of possibilities. Similarly, there’s a part later on where you get the Kilver gun that allows you to shoot through barriers. There are other weapons that can do this too, so they can also be substituted into this particular part of the progression path.
The new mode includes three different options:
- “Beginner” for players who have already beat the game several times but want to play through it in the normal way.
- “Advanced” for speedrunners familiar with how to glitch through certain obstacles and sections.
- “Masochist” for Axiom Verge experts who are intimately familiar with all of its quirks, glitches, and secrets.
“As of right now, there are exactly 4 people in the world able to play this mode,” Happ writes. “If you don’t know that you’re one of them, you’re probably not. This progression mode is included primarily because the aforementioned people who developed this mode include those masochists in question.”
If you want to get an idea of what Happ is talking about, watch this speedrun of the game from Awesome Games Done Quick 2021:
It’s neat to see an indie game from 2015 have new life breathed into it this many years later, but especially as a collaborative effort between the game’s developer and its passionate speedrunners. And while the randomizer is currently only in beta on PC, it’s set to come free to console versions in the future.
It’s also getting me jazzed for Axiom Verge 2. Originally due out last year, it was delayed in the fall until sometime in the first half of 2021. Fortunately, it sounds like that’s still the case. Writes Happ, “I’m putting on the finishing touches for that and will be talking about it more soon.”