Axiom Verge is straight-up Metroid.
Games inspired by the Nintendo classic are popular these days and Axiom is probably the most reverent of them, but still successfully stray from the beaten paths in interesting ways. By completely changing the abilities on the upgrade path typical of these game, it finds a way to make unlocking new skills exciting again. Not all of the abilities are winners, but the best one will make you reevaluate how you will play the game going forward. Best of all, while typical health bonus or damage upgrades still exist, some of the optional upgrades are actually game-changing abilities.
It is disappointing, then, that Axiom Verge’s trappings are not up to snuff. The old-school graphics are well made, but end up looking bland. The story and world building has some interesting twists but never come around as satisfying. The music is a high point, as it fits the alien world of the game perfectly. Still, Axiom Verge might not look like much with its overbearing nostalgia, but how it uses this to reach new heights is impressive enough itself. In the gameplay department, it is probably the most interesting Metroid-inspired game of the last few years.