Axiom Verge: Sci-fi Sidescroller coming to PS4, Vita

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Axiom Verge: Sci-fi Sidescroller coming to PS4, Vita

Axiom Verge on PS4 and PS Vita

I’m Tom Happ, the sole programmer-artist-designer-composer person behind Axiom Verge, a 2D side-scrolling action-adventure coming out on PS4 and PS Vita in early 2015. If you’ve not heard of Axiom Verge (or even if you have), the best thing to do is to put on your best pair of headphones and watch the trailer below:

So, What’s This About Glitches?

People usually try to describe games in terms of other games, established genres, numbers of items to find, numbers of modes to play, etc. And if it’s an indie game, there is often a mind-bending new mechanic involved (“Can only be played during a tracheotomy!”) as well. I’ll give you these bullet points in just a bit.

But first: Think of your earliest encounters with video games – before you had any preconceptions of what to expect, how they were made, or why they were made that way. Didn’t they just seem magically limitless? It might be that a game only had a set number of areas and tight constraints on what you could do, but for all you knew, the world continued past the edges of the screen, if only you could figure out how to get there.

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Eventually, of course, you come to realize that there are limitations to these virtual worlds, and, ultimately, you end up seeing the entirety of what was designed to be seen. But then, if you were fortunate, there might have been a time when a flaw in programming of the game allowed you to see or experience something that was not intended – a secret world, a glitched-out character, an item with bizarre stats and effects when used. And then there was that magical feeling again – that the world continued beyond the boundaries presented, and who knew what you might find?

Back of the Box Bullet Points

Axiom Verge is a retro-styled 2D “metroidvania” action-adventure, inspired by such classics as Rygar, Contra, Bionic Commando, Blaster Master, and, of course, Metroid. But it also gives you power over glitches like those found in classic games, allowing you to scramble enemies, corrupt environments, and enter hidden areas.


  • Expansive Non-linear Exploration of 9 labyrinthine, interlocking areas.
  • Gobs of unique tools and abilities, loads of weapons, and tons of health/power/attribute upgrades.
  • Combat with dozens of unique creatures and bosses.
  • Glitches allowing you to break past the boundaries of normal gameplay.
  • Speedrun Mode – Play with a streamlined interface and additional features to facilitate speedrunning.

Axiom Verge on PS4 and PS Vita

The Hook

When I say that Axiom Verge features glitches as a major game mechanic, please don’t take that as some self-reflexive fourth-wall-breaking joke about dusty old cartridges or the like. Nor am I going to pile on glitch after glitch just for the sake of being different. Instead, picture this: you have a full game that would be awesome on its own – your dream Metroid + Contra + Bionic Commando + Blaster Master or what have you – but then, what if in addition to that game, you were given the means to break past the edges of the world and see things beyond — things that weren’t and couldn’t have been designed for you to see?

It’s a hard thing to do; maybe impossible. But if Axiom Verge can bring back even part of that magical feeling, I will feel that it’s been a success.

From AAA to Indie

I’ve actually been working on Axiom Verge for over four years now, most of that being part-time after-hours, while during the day I was a programmer for the (awesome and thankfully flexible) folks at Petroglyph Games, developing such titles as Grey Goo and End of Nations. While I wouldn’t trade those years for, it did mean that work on AV progressed at a glacial pace.

So you can understand where I’m coming from when I say that Sony’s Pub Fund was one of the best things ever to happen to me (and to Axiom Verge). I can now work on AV full-time, which has a whole host of benefits, not the least of which being the fact that development is going at light-speed compared to before. And since it’s headed to PS4 and Vita, it’ll be exposed to way, way more gamers than I ever imagined.

Speaking of gamers, I’ll be checking the comments on this blog post. I’m curious about what people would most like to see in Axiom Verge. And, do you have a favorite classic gaming memory? Or a particularly enjoyable glitch you’d like to share? If you’re a speedrunner, is there a feature I can add that you’d find particularly helpful for that?

Also! Follow Axiom Verge on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks!

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17 Author Replies

  • Another amazing 2d action packed game coming to the wonderful PS4!! I keep wishing and hoping for them to bring us a new Castlevania game to PS4 or hell even a old classic game to enjoy. Thank you sony for giving us such amazing publishers to work on new PS4 games 1st mercenary kings now Axiom Verge!! Thank you!! For every Indie game developer thank you so much and keep up the good work!!

    • Koji Igarashi has actually gone indie and most people suspect he’ll be making his own spiritual Castlevania successor. So the “vania” in “metroidvania” is hopefully well covered :)

  • Looks pretty good. Will the character have stats, or do upgrades only come in the form of new weapons? Also, can you get weapons from certain enemies, or are they all in specific places?

    • The upgrades come in the form of items hidden in the environment. There are currently power nodes and health nodes; I recently decided this was too limited so I’ll likely be adding nodes for weapon range, projectile size, etc. Weapons are likewise in the environment. This is to encourage exploration over grinding for loot drops. I might have loot drops in a later game, though.

  • Since you said you’d be reading comments, I’ll break my comment leaving cherry just for you in the hopes that maybe (just maybe)this game WILL rekindle that magic you spoke of so fondly.
    First, are speedrun leaderboards already in the works? Like maybe a global one for just overall time it took to beat, (but has % shown), then a board dedicated to only 100% completion.
    This leads me to my next suggestion, “replays” of games that earned the spot that got the player on the leaderboard. Blazblue style in a way.
    What I’ve always wanted was a training mode similar to a fighting games’ for MetroidVanias. Where I could download “replay” data to 1: watch. And 2: (again like a fighting game) includes controller input data so in training mode I can run through the game with a racing game style ghost of the top speed runners.
    And of course a training mode wouldn’t be complete with out training mode options. Like maybe a rewind function that sets time back in increments you set (1, 5, 10 secs) or “start of room” etc.
    Something that allows me to compare what I consider the 100% critical path to what the current top dog considers the best.
    But maybe that would kill the extended life time of a MetroidVania.

    • I definitely want to have leaderboards for this reason. It may have to wait for a post-launch patch, however. I love all your ideas, though, particularly the ghost recording.

  • Also, I want to clear up the question about platinum trophies. Sony actually has two sets of trophies. A “full” set, which contains around 1,200 points worth of trophies and awards a platinum trophy once all of the other trophies have been obtained. And a “small” set, which contains around 300 points worth of trophies and doesn’t award a platinum trophy. Usually very short games that obviously don’t have much content get the “small” set, but there have been a few games that had enough content for the “full” set, yet were given the “small” set anyway. If this game has a good amount of content, I would definitely recommend going for the “full” set. That’s why people are going to ask what this game will have, because a “full” set reflects more content.

    • After some digging I found that it’s something that I actually need to explicitly request – evidently not just any old game can get a platinum trophy. BUT I also gather that AV is the right kind of game for which they usually award this feature.

  • I hope you plan on making sequels. I’ve been waiting for a “metroid” style game to come out.

    • Yes, there are sequels planned, though I’ve designed the story such that it will resolve conclusively at the end of this one.

  • DOPE! I’m loving everything I’m seeing so far… I think I’ll have to get this one on launch, especially if it’s PS4/Vita cross-buy!

  • Early 2015, you say? It seems that The Witcher 3 just met its match.

    Day One, will buy.

  • Dangisuckatgamin

    Nothing compares to witcher…. that’s just dumb of you to say :P

  • i loved that game as a kid! :D

    i really enjoyed going back through the original legend of zelda without getting a sword. “i know it’s dangerous, but i think i can make it.”

    my only request is that you leave out the metroid savegame method. that was the worst. wasn’t castlevania 2 the same way? it would be one thing to have a terminal somewhere within the game to input that sort of awfulness.. but every time..? let’s not do that ever again. although, there is the side effect that the name ‘justin bailey’ is burned into my mind forever, so i guess it did something right.

  • Amazing title! Kudos to you Sir for making this game as One Man Team, literally I have no words! Doing such an amazing work all by yourself is for the records. Must say, I’ll definitely support this game. Especially thx to Sony’s Pub Fund that is helping to promote such good games and people!

  • I can’t believe how excited I am for this game! First thing I did this morning was come watch the trailer again. I’m looking and listening to everything like I used to do. Is this the golden age of gaming? Where I can play an amazing AAA title and then turn around and play an old-school adventure for the first time on a console??? The music is spot on and the aesthetics are just right.

  • Please make sure you petition Sony for a Platinum. It hurts sales when your game doesn’t have a Platinum and Sony has been unfair about that. Once again, many many thanks for cross buy (and hopefully cross save like you said). Vita support is always appreciated and us gamers will pay you back.

  • My advice: Don’t let people make you feel pressured about trophies. That’s just silly. I like trophies as much as the next person and have a pretty good number of platinums, but I would argue that gaming was actually better before trophies game along. Playing games like (my all-time favorite) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and getting 100% of everything just because I enjoyed it. Searching for heart pieces, finding the last bottle. Or playing Gran Turismo 3 and passing all of the license tests just because it gave me something extra to do.
    Trophies should not make or break a game for people, and if there are people who are going to be critical of Axiom Verge or say they won’t like it because it doesn’t have a platinum trophy, then those people aren’t your target audience anyway.

    But yeah, of course there will be some trophies, and since they’re going to be there, I would also ask that they not be Too difficult. Challenging, yes. Frustrating, please no. Collecting trophies should be fun. They should not give you a dreadful chore that has you going much further out of your way than you would like (completing the game within a time limit, beating it on super ultra nightmare deathmode difficulty etc..)

  • By the way, the game looks awesome and I am really looking forward seeing/learning more in the coming months/year.

  • I don’t think anyone here is pressuring him to do anything PanTheMan16. Clearly this is his game and he has the final say. But he did ask us what we’d like to see and a lot of us are hopeful for a platinum trophy. And I’d argue that trophies/achievements have made gaming better when done right. They not only add replay value to people who may otherwise only played the game once, but also can provide a challenge to those who want them. I look at a trophy list and it screams to me: “I dare you to complete me! Up for the challenge?”

  • I love Metroid and Contra. I am buying this day one.

  • The gameplay looks like a ton o’ fun. I can’t help wonder what it would look like with modern graphics. I feel I’ve had my fill of pixel art in Indie games.

  • BlueGnosis,

    Problem with trophies is they are very rarely done 100% right. Many of them are fine, then it’s like the devs say “let’s throw in a couple for the ultra hardcore players”. Well, that sucks for all of the non-ultra-hardcore people who really want platinum.

    Trophies just get people focusing on the wrong things. They look at a trophy list before playing and think “Okay, when I get to this part, I need to do this a certain way”. It’s preventing people from just doing everything naturally, the way they would without trophies. Or, people may look at a trophy list and see that the trophies are extremely difficult and it will make them feel discouraged.
    I’m not saying trophies are bad, but now we’ve become accustomed to them, which I think IS a negative thing. In the uncommon instance that we get a game without any trophies, there is a sense of pointlessness to the game. Playing just because it’s fun is no longer enough for people. As a personal rule, I try to avoid looking at trophy lists until I complete my first playthrough. I don’t play online until I’ve finished the campaign and I never play a game on a difficulty that I wouldn’t first choose to play it on if there were no trophies involved.

  • This is so exciting. I never post here but since you were kind enough to ask for feedback, here are my answers to your questions.
    Do you have a favorite classic gaming memory?

    I still fondly recall the experience in the original Legend of Zelda where when Link is next to a room containing a boss, you can hear it’s faint, but awesome howls through the walls. I loved this tease and it both tickled my imagination wondering what was at the end of the dungeon and it provided this great carrot for exploration. I don’t recall another game doing that except for maybe the Dark Souls series. I’d love to see these sorts of milestone teases throughout the game baiting the player to keep exploring to see what the tease is all about.

    Or a particularly enjoyable glitch you’d like to share?

    Mario Brothers is the original torch bearer for me on clever glitches. They were so odd but at the same time readily discoverable, and at times, lead to major game changing secrets. From accessing warp tubes to hidden 1ups to the 100 life turtle bound, I still wonder if they were intended.

  • PantheMan16,

    You are right and I am right. I do enjoy when there are a couple Ultra-Hard trophies and I get excited when I’ve accomplished them. I guess I just see it a different way! The saying, “You can’t please everyone,” really holds true. It would be impossible for a developer to make a list of trophies that will appease everyone. But…they do their best and I’ve only encountered a few trophies in which I thought were ‘bad.’ Mostly the ones for killing an obscene amount of enemies. More so than present themselves in the game after a few play-throughs.

    In all honesty Pan, trophies have made me a better gamer and challenged me to tasks I never thought I could beat before!

  • As far as favorite classic gaming moments go, I’d have to say anytime a game has given me an odd and bizarre feeling. Bordering on uncomfortable and making me think, “What are you and what is your purpose???” Much like in a seemingly ‘normal’ setting, only to find out there is something disgustingly unsettling going on behind the scenes.

    On the matter of boss room howls, there is something akin to that that I enjoy as well. When a boss is lurking in the shadows throughout the game, or runs across the screen and howls, almost like they’re stalking you. And THEN you finally encounter them.

    Glitch wise, pretty much any game where you could potentially go where you weren’t supposed to go by doing some super jump or charged run in a spot where the game doesn’t know you’re doing it and freaks out because of it. Like when the whole entire look of the game changes because you essentially “broke the code.”

  • Love the way the game is comming along,hope to see more bigger bosses!And of course bad azz gameplay.

  • I visited the website and saw the Glitch Gun in action. Now my interest is piqued even more! I saw that you can glitch out walls and stuff like that, but I’m wondering what kind of effect will it have on the enemies?

  • I can’t wait to play this game! I see you were very influenced by Metroid and that is awesome.. day one buy for sure! Thank you for bringing it to Vita!

  • Looks awesome. Definite buy, need more Metroidvania games.

  • Dude, wana play this game sooner , release a demo at least :c

  • crossbuy and most likely cross save you say???? Here take it please!!! ( flinging the money from my pockets)

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