A couple of months back we previewed a trailer for Axiom Verge , a Contra/Metroid/Castlevania action platformer. Recently, we got to play through an alpha build of the game that features a good look at the level design, weapons, and a boss fight.
The gameplay that was featured in the trailer matched up well to the actual gameplay in the alpha build. The level design is simple as you travel through Mario-esque pipes that take you upward or sideways into each new section. Each section is designed differently enough that you get a good sense of progression, especially when you have to backtrack to parts of the level that might not have been accessible at the beginning of the game. The enemies in each level are relatively easy to kill, and their variation keeps things fresh between each section of the game.
But how do you kill all of those enemies? With five guns that are spread around the demo. We were able to find four, but rest assured there are five weapons that you can find if you do more digging, ranging from a weapon that shoots delayed bullets that explode on demand to a weapon that can drill out parts of the level or simply kills your foes. Each one of the weapons has more of a purpose than just killing enemies. You sometimes need to backtrack to unlock certain parts of a level that were unattainable due to unfound weapons in your arsenal. This also gives you the satisfaction of killing your enemies in different ways than you did before with another gun. The guns are fun to shoot with and the look of each weapon’s ammo captures that old-school 16-bit feel.
Luckily you don’t need all of the guns to tackle your first boss fight. After some exploration, you encounter a floating talking brain with a drill bit stinger, and he's hell-bent on killing you just because you disturbed and entered his domain. The brain boss was easy to take down because he only shoots out red orbs that either disappear once you dodge them or have a delayed enough explosion to move away from them. Since it is the first boss fight, we'll cut the difficulty level some slack. Overall, Axiom Verge is looking like a game you should be paying attention to once a final build is released. You can check out the trailer and take a look at the playthrough we did on TwitchTV.