It's a great day to be a Nintendo Switch owner, as a myriad of popular indie titles just launched on the hybrid console. Games like Stardew Valley and Oxenfree are sure to draw attention, but if you're still riding the wave of excitement from 3DS release Metroid: Samus Returns, then Axiom Verge is the game you'll want to check out first.
Developer Tom Happ and indie marketing guru Dan Adelman supplied Gamnesia with a review copy of Axiom Verge on Nintendo Switch, and I've been re-living my favorite game of 2015 over the past week. Gamnesia already has a full review of Axiom Verge on PC, and the Switch version is pretty much a straight port, but I'll be highlighting a few pros and cons of the latest iteration.
First, let's start with an overview for those unfamiliar with this indie darling. In Axiom Verge, an unsuccessful scientist named Trace is fatally wounded in a lab accident, but he awakens in perfect health on a strange and foreboding alien world. An unknown voice urges Trace to arm himself with a weapon "Before he finds you..." and the adventure begins. Axiom Verge features Metroid-inspired gameplay and level design, an impressive arsenal of diverse weapons and upgrades, heart-pounding battles against enormous bosses, an incredible soundtrack (which I'm currently blaring as I write this), and a gripping sci-fi story full of twists.
The Switch version loses the two screen gameplay of Wii U (where your map could be displayed on the handheld unit while the game itself plays on the TV), but the positives gained are worth the trade-off. While the Wii U GamePad could only be taken a few yards away from the TV, Axiom Verge on Switch can be played anywhere. The game looks and sounds great on the portable Nintendo Switch device, offering a crisper image quality than on Wii U. The Wii U version also suffered from occasional loading delays when traversing from one area to the next (a problem other earlier versions avoided), but this is rectified on Switch.
One final area worth noting is how the game controls on Switch. I originally played Axiom Verge on PC with an Xbox 360 controller, and I found the joystick far too imprecise. Using the D-pad to move around has been my default since then across each release, but I was surprisingly pleased by how well the Switch joystick handles and have been playing that way ever since. This is especially true when playing the game in portable mode, although that comes with one caveat. Because the Switch's right joystick is directly below the standard A, B, X, and Y buttons (whereas it's below and slightly to the left on the Pro Controller), I found myself accidentally nudging it with the palm of my hand occasionally. This causes a brief break in the action, as the right joystick pauses the game to bring up your weapons menu. Additionally, if you're playing on your TV and then you decide to pull the Switch out of the dock and take it on the go, you might have trouble getting it to accept inputs from the portable unit. I had to turn my Pro Controller off manually before it would recognize the portable unit as an acceptable controller.
All in all, this is the same great game that I fell in love with in 2015, and now I can take it anywhere. I would consider this the definitive version of Axiom Verge and a must-have for fans of the Metroid series. Axiom Verge is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop today for $19.99, and you'll be able to pick up a physical Switch copy sometime next month.