Any Metroid fan will agree that there aren't enough Metroid-like games in the world. So whenever I hear about one, I want to want to play it. But there's often something that shuts me down, like an icky theme or a super melodramatic premise or tone. Axiom Verge is an indie game (like literally by one guy) that is super popular but does have a weird/dark plot. But a sequel came out and people have been raving, so I gave it another look. The plot isn't sadder than Ori, and the icky factor is actually less than the worst of Super Metroid (although in the latter game you can avoid the worst of it). So I went ahead and got it.
Exploring the world is delightful. The visual and musical tone are very reminiscent of Super Metroid and Zero Mission. The whole experience feels familiar - in the sense that it's weird and alien, but the creatures from Metroid would feel right at home there. The power-ups definitely have Metroid-esque analogs, but they are unique at the same time, and it's fun to be surprised with how they enable you to get past the game's various obstacles.
And just like in Super Metroid, you can get lost and stuck. I got super stuck at one point. It ended up being just a matter of having forgotten about one little spot, but as I explored everywhere, I kept finding optional power-ups. That's a sign of good design, in my opinion. And of course when I finally found the way forward... well then I got stuck again, but after that, it was super satisfying. Another time I wandered all over the world trying to find that next item that would let me progress, only to realize that I already had the ability I needed, but I had never thought to use it in a certain way. And believe it or not, realizing that was a good feeling.
I like the boss battles. They're not super complex, but the bosses look cool, and it's satisfying to figure out what to do. (It's usually much simpler than what I expect going in.)