Epic has announced that Axiom Verge, developer Thomas Happ's wonderful, retro-styled Metroid-a-like, will be the next Epic Games Store freebie, starting on February 7th.
If you haven't yet had the pleasure of 2015's Axiom Verge, you really are in for a treat. It's an intricate, unabashed love letter to Nintendo's classic Metroid series - right down to the garish colour palette and retro-inspired 8-bit-meets-16-bit art style.
Axiom Verge's surprisingly involved storyline follows the adventures of a superbly sideburned Earth scientist named Trace, who wakes on a strange alien world following a laboratory accident. What follows is action in the classic Metroid mould: you'll explore a positively labyrinthine world of interconnected rooms, mowing down hostile alien life and gathering new abilities that will, eventually, permit access to new locations.
Despite its retro veneer, however, this isn't simply a cold rehash of former Nintendo glories. Axiom Verge is full of fresh ideas to enliven the familiar Metroid formula, most of which revolve around your steadily expanding arsenal of powers. None of which I'll spoil here. Really though, the whole thing is a winner; it's elegantly designed, frequently surprising, it's got interesting bosses, meaty weapons, and a genuinely intriguing story - plus it looks and sounds great too.
Granted, I apparently liked it a tad more than Eurogamer reviewer Dan Whitehead. "As charmed and delighted as I often was with its smartly paced escalation, its perpetually teasing construction, I kept waiting for some new element to appear, a eureka moment that either hadn't been thought of in 1986, or that could only be done today," he wrote, "It never quite happens. Axiom Verge seems content to be a homage, rather than a revival or reinvention."
Still, when Axiom Verge goes free on the Epic Games Store, you can find out which side of the line you personally stand on for zero-pence. And if you're looking for other Epic freebies, The Jackbox Party Pack collection is currently free until February 7th.