Sometimes you need to punch a skeleton and use their severed arm to smack a ghost in the face. Long Live the Axe is an exciting action platformer about exploring crypts and finding keys. It mixes the sensibilities of Metroid with an arcade brawler, and it’s this week’s Indie Pick.
Designed by Jesse Burnett, Long Live the Axe is about an intrepid adventurer setting off to explore caves and gather weapons. The game world is surprisingly large, with many buildings and deep dungeons to rifle through for loot. Sometimes that means bouncing off enemies’ heads to reach a door; sometimes it means bashing your way through a room of monsters. Boss fights challenge the player to dodge projectiles or snag weapons from midair and toss them back. It’s old school fun that’s made more exciting by responsive controls that allow wild acrobatics.
The visuals feel lifted from a lost Atari game, with bright colours and blocks that keep the world from becoming too drab. While many of the caves feature deep blue colours, they’re punctuated by pink skeletons and neon glowing axes. The art style combines with moody music to create a sense of adventure that is both mischievous and dangerous.
Long Live the Axe began as a prototype in 2014. The prototype was incredibly punishing—a single hit would send you back to the start of a room. The full version is more forgiving, and the game is much better for it. This version adds an expanded lifebar and the ability to carry more than one weapon. There are a lot of weapons:the player will find a collections of broadswords, staffs, and all kinds of monster body parts to play around with. Occasionally, rarer items will drop, like the coveted God Hand. This awesome skeleton arm creates massive punches that can completely annihilate monsters. These rare items add a welcome variety and silliness to the combat.
Long Live the Axe is one of my favourite games that I’ve featured as an Indie Pick. You catch flying sword and add them to your arsenal. You can double jump your way through a hazard-filled hallway of skeletons and platforms. You can befriend an acrobat ghost to upgrade your jumps. You can buy items from a large-headed stoner monster dude. Long Live the Axe is worth checking out for anyone eager for a good time.
You can play Long Live The Axe on PC. A free demo is also available.