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The Ending Of Axiom Verge Explained

"Axiom Verge" is a Metroidvania indie game released in 2015, made entirely by one person, Tom Happ. The game has made its way to multiple platforms, including PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. "Axiom Verge" has received generally positive reviews, with a respectable 84 on Metacritic for the PS4 version. Happ has since announced "Axiom Verge 2" coming to the Nintendo Switch and the Epic Games Store sometime in 2021. The sequel is part of the same story as the original, but the two titles can be played in any order.

The original "Axiom Verge" follows the exploits of a failed scientist who awakens in an alien world after an accident. The scientist, Trace, must explore the mysterious world and uncover how he got there and what exactly is going on. The game's story is full of reality-bending elements, including time travel, cloning, and moving between worlds, all of which makes for an interesting (if confusing) narrative.

Who is Trace?

Over on GameFAQs, a user named MrBeens wrote up a clear and "simple" synopsis of the story, piecing together scraps of information from the game. In their summary, the story is that the original Trace was a scientist who was significantly injured in an explosion, which left him permanently in a wheelchair. During this time, Trace developed theories about the laws of physics which would radically change the world's understanding of everything. He was labeled a fraud for these ideas and nicknamed "Athetos," meaning "without place."

Using his new knowledge, Athetos bent reality, allowing him to travel to Sudra, where the game takes place. Here he found the re-birth chambers, which allowed his body to be reborn. However, he left behind a small bit of his DNA. This was used to create a clone of him, which is the version of Trace that you play during the game. The clone was not made intentionally by Athetos, but instead by machines with a grudge against him.

Athetos' plans

On Sudra, Athetos discovers the inhabitants have advanced technology that is far superior to anything on Earth. He decides to take this technology for Earth and creates a pathogen to kill all of the Sudrans. Now, the only remaining beings are the old machines, created to defend Sudra from invading forces. Athetos is able to disable their power source, leaving them vulnerable and incapable of beating him. The machines devise a plan to create a clone of Athetos, Trace, which will defeat Athetos for them.

After Trace beats Athetos, the machines send him back in time to directly after the original lab incident that created Athetos. However, Trace becomes obsessed with Sudra and vows to find a way to return, showing a glint in his eyes, suggesting he is on the path to become Athetos again. However, another version of Athetos appears to Trace and tells him it's time to wake up, implying the machines have put him in some sort of "Matrix"-style simulation.

Theories, theories, theories

With the basic story beats out of the way, it's time to get into some fan theories. Over on the Giant Bomb forums, kid_gloves theorized that Trace isn't the only clone of Athetos running around. Referring to a section in the game where the player must choose whether to not to kill another clone, kid_gloves writes, "maybe Athetos [has] been cloning himself lots of times and that is where the multiples come from." It's possible that one of these "multiples" is the clone that confronts Trace at the end of the game.

Randyf on the same forum thinks that the game must feature multiple realities or time travel in some way, otherwise some of the events in the game don't quite make sense. "Obviously we are dealing with multiple dimensions or timelines," they wrote, "otherwise Athetos would cease to exist if he went back in time and killed you[.]" Considering the fact that the game is about the laws of physics being radically changed, it shouldn't be surprising that it gets into some high level (and convoluted) sci-fi stuff.

The future of Axiom Verge

When it comes to indie games with fewer resources and a small creative team, the future of a series is never guaranteed. That said, we know "Axiom Verge 2" is coming and apparently soon. While the ending of "Axiom Verge” makes it seem as though Trace is either returning to Sudra or never really left it, his story is set to continue. The trailer for "Axiom Verge 2" doesn't reveal too much, but it does show a main character that appears to be someone different from Trace/Athetos.

The official website reveals that the game features "new characters, new powers, new enemies, and a new world." It also says players will meet Indra, a mysterious billionaire who has discovered an ancient alternative version of Earth. If that's the case, then perhaps the theories of Trace's alternate reality duplicates are true, after all. Only time will tell how "Axiom Verge 2" may illuminate the confusing parts of the original.