Axiom of Maria: Prologue (PC)

Released from Early Access back at the beginning of February, this cyberpunk fuelled hack & slash has somehow passed through our net and to find itself now with a belated review. With a low entry price and prologue moniker, is this an adventure worth getting a glimpse of? Lets take a quick look

Axiom of Maria takes place in Seoul, now almost deserted due to a population decline and the emergence of AI to manage the systems left behind. You play Kay, a former special forces instructor, who is captured alongside her daughter by AISOC. It seems Kay’s husband is a member of the irregulars, a group looking to liberate human consciousness from AI (known as the beyond), that are under the protection of AISOC. That leaves Kay now venturing out into the deserted city to find her husband.

Story delivery is surprisingly good, there’s not much in the way of cutscenes mind, but the bountiful amount of voiced dialogue provides plenty of backdrop to most situation. While on the surface it does look like a typical cyberpunk yarn, the somewhat unique deserted Seoul setting and focus on AI, namely those created from human consciousness, made for an interesting start when coupled with the great delivery. A lot of the press stuff is underlined by a ‘prologue’, so as you guess that does mean you’ll likely be done in several hours or so depending on how much of a completionist you are. Still, its an interesting prelude to something bigger in the future.

Another surprisingly good area of the game is the visuals. There’s some high quality model work for the characters and environments considering, with the deserted cyberpunk world crafted realised great with some neat effects adding atmosphere. The real highlight is in the effects work as shrapnel and discharged energy dance around the skirmish like a firework display. Often the game will slow things down or zoom in the camera for finisher type moments that allow a few seconds to appreciate the visuals and style on show.

Performance is good. I tried for 120 on my system (R7 5800X3D/32GB/RTX 3090) but was only able to get around 70-90, so ended up locking it 4K/Max settings at 60fps. There’s several options to tweak to improve performance, even has a steam deck preset, so it should be possible to hit any performance target.

While the gameplay is relatively basic at first glance, with style and upgrades it can become more. When not getting into motorcycle fisticuffs or taking down boss droids, you may find progress slowed sometimes by platforming or the occasional puzzle, but its mainly fodder enemies. Most of these can be dealt with by simple attacks, your dodge can even confuse them as you autoblock ranged fire (until stamina empties), but give it about an hour or so and the enemies start to adapt. Previous tactics don’t always work, or enemies are mixed in to make target priority a thing, as the game rarely lets up once the fights start outside of the odd breather during an aforementioned puzzle or platform section.

Character upgrades are done in an interesting way. You have to find the programmes to install first, but even then you may not be able to use it. The suit has limited memory which can be upgraded using bits dropped by enemies, one block at a time for increasing cost, to expand the space. Each programme then has its own shape and you can install as many as you can fit together – Tetris style. While some of the programmes are forced to progress some areas, unlocking pathways etc, most are optional so can be swapped out on a whim to match the situation

Axiom of Maria will surprise you. With an interesting premise that’s delivered better than you would expect, coupled with a flashy combat system surrounded by a pleasing cyberpunk Seoul, the game ended up exceeding my expectations. With a low price of entry at around £10 and recent update regarding future chapters, Axiom of Maria comes recommended to those eager for some stylish hack & slash action or more cyberpunk to lose oneself in, or you simply just need to kill a few hours in a satisfying way.



A stylish and intriguing promise of more to come.

The following two tabs change content below.

Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.

Latest posts by Geoffrey Wright (see all)