Having just completed Blaster Master Zero, I was in the mood for another "metroidvania." I went through my Steam library and tried a few for a bit to decide what to play next.
This started out very strong, with a fantastic soundtrack and some nice NES style graphics. However, the dialog/story sort of ruins the atmosphere (it would have been better without any dialog at all), and I found the level design to be quite poor. It feels more like Metroid than Super Metroid or Castlevania: SOTN, with a bunch of corridors and very little direction. That works in Metroid because there really aren't that many items to find to make progress; in Axiom Verge, I felt like I was constantly finding new navigation-related items, and having to constantly backtrack all over the world to figure out where I could now go. Worse for me, though, is that it just feels almost 100% like Metroid, from the way it controls to even how you walk in doors. Maybe it gets better later, but for now I'm putting it aside.
This is a lot of fun so far, though it's not really a "metroidvania" game at this point (it's more like Ninja Gaiden on the NES). The big twist here is that it changes from a linear action game into a metroidvania at the halfway point, apparently. It's very jokey, and although it's very funny sometimes, the jokes get old. You can buy upgrades in shops throughout the levels, and it's pretty fun to gain new abilities and master them. There's a bit too much of a focus on precision platforming at times, but it's not too hard so far. I'll keep playing this.
This is like Dark Souls mixed with a metroidvania. You've got deliberate combat with parries, upgrades purchased based on "souls" dropped by enemies, etc. It really feels like playing a 2D Dark Souls game. The overall setting and atmosphere are quite unique, and the game takes place in some crazy world based primarily on Holy Week in Seville, Spain (all the voice acting is also in Spanish). It's very, very edgy and violent, but it looks and sounds great. It's not too hard so far, but does require some precision platforming here and there. Bosses so far are pure Dark Souls; giant monsters that require you to learn their patterns to defeat them, since you take a ton of damage with each hit. As a big fan of the Dark Souls series, I am really enjoying this so far.
Duck Tales: Remastered
I had already completed this on the NES back in the day, so I figured it would be fun to revisit the game with this modern version. It leaves a great first impression, with awesome sprites that seem to have been taken straight from the cartoon, and voice acting from the original cast (or at least, for Scrooge McDuck, anyway).
That good first impression, sadly, is brief because the game forces you into a tedious tutorial for a game originally played with two buttons, that was played and mastered by children 30 years ago. It's not long, but why is it in here? Why can't you skip it?
Then you get bombarded with dialog boxes all throughout the level. I get what they were trying to do here (make it feel a bit more like playing an episode of the cartoon), but I just don't feel that such a simple action game needs this. It kills the pace of the game. You can skip these, but you need to press a button twice to do so; this seems like petty complaint, but when you are getting interrupted 10+ times a level with this stuff, it gets very annoying.
The levels have all been expanded, adding things like minecart rides (similar to Donkey Kong Country) or having to collect 10 doodads throughout the level to unlock a door. The boss battles are also much more complex, as there are more attack patterns to memorize and the bosses themselves require many more hits to kill. What's to complain about? They retained the lives system from the original NES game, and once you are out of lives you get kicked back to the level select screen. Dying at the boss means you've lose all your progress in the level, including all the many doodads you need to find just to reach the boss. There's nothing fun about that.
I'll put this aside for now, and maybe revisit it some other time. Not impressed so far.