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2020 in preview: Axiom Verge 2 has us expecting the unexpected

Into the Breach.

Now that 2020 is here we're having a little look ahead at some of the year's new games that have us intrigued.

I finally got round to playing Axiom Verge over the Christmas break, and it was such a pleasant surprise. This is a game which at first, like many other Metroidvanias, feels like a direct and blatant homage to Super Metroid, but piece by piece, pulls away and becomes its own thing.

What I loved most was the tone, and how things gradually unravelled. It was somehow more alien than Metroid; it was much dirtier and darker, more mysterious and disgusting. There are gross, pulsating walls made of bright pink flesh, huge caverns piled with greyed out corpses, and bizarre structures hanging above vast plains like Christmas tree decorations, all displayed in 16-bit splendor.

The story plays out in much the same way, and though you see its central twist coming a mile off, nothing ever fully slots into place. Without spoiling specifics, even if you digested all its lore and seen its secret ending, you're not really sure where you are, who truly were your allies, and what was real and what was not.

Axiom Verge 2 looks so interesting is because it doesn't appear to answer anything. The first trailer, revealed at the close of last year, was the perfect tease because it feels alien in its own way - not disconcerting like the original was, but because it's not what you'd expect from a possible sequel.

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Yes, there's the tease of more monstrous bosses and the fuzzy expanse of the Breach. But I'm honest, it all looks quite pleasant, with beige, snow-covered temples instead of nightmarish biomechanical corridors, and the comforting return of the drone, a faithful companion which allows you to scuttle through tight spaces. Even traversal - another thing the original game was renowned for - looks pared back this time round.

But based on the trailer, I have no idea who we'll play as, when or where things are set, and whether things will spiral out from beneath us again. There might not even be any real connection to what we know at all. Such was the power of the original's underlying horror and mystery, and I can only hope to be as surprised a second time round.

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