Infernax Preview: A Gory Retro Treat

Infernax 1 (1)

If you fondly remember the original Castlevania games or have enjoyed retro-inspired titles such as Shovel Knight in recent years, Infernax is a game that you should keep on your radar.

Developed by Berzerk Studio, Infernax is a 2D side-scrolling action RPG with 8-bit visuals. Playing as a great knight named Alcedor who’s returned to his kingdom only to find it plagued with the undead and other grotesque creatures, you’ve taken it upon yourself to find the source and hopefully return things to how they were. And so of course, that means travelling here, there and everywhere while doing battle with anything that stands in your way.

Despite its old-fashioned looks and initially simple gameplay, there’s considerable depth to Infernax. It’s not long after starting starting your adventure, for example, that you come across a villager who’s seemingly possessed. You’re presented with a choice: slay him where he stands, or pray for him. We chose the latter, but our worlds fell on deaf ears; he turned into a grotesque demon, we then had to deal with a mini-boss. It appears there’ll be numerous choices such as this, changing the game as you play. There’ll even be multiple endings based on your decisions.

When it comes to gameplay, for a while all you’ll be able to do is swing your mace at enemies to turn them into mush and jump to negotiate the environment. As you go about your endeavours, however, you earn both XP and gold. XP can be used at shrines to upgrade your attack power, health or magic, while gold can be used to purchase items at vendors. It appears you’ll be able to acquire weapons, armour and a whole lot more, enriching the game experience and providing some variety. It seems that special abilities will also be available, and with the world being somewhat open, it’ll be worth returning to areas you’ve previously explored to see if there are any more treasures or secrets worth uncovering.

One rather neat aspect of Infernax is your ability to block incoming projectiles and certain other attacks; Alcedor raises his shield in defence automatically providing you’re not attacking or performing another action. It creates a flow to the action, forcing you to back off when you anticipate a blockable attack before moving in for the kill. You won’t want to rely on blocking when facing off against the game’s powerful bosses, though. Instead, you’ll need to learn their attack patterns, whittling their health down whenever an opportunity presents. Your reward for beating them? Watching them explode, sending pixelated blood and guts everywhere.

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While Infernax seems somewhat challenging, it’s much easier than the original Castlevania and other games that have inspired it. Save points grant you somewhere to record your progress and recover your health. Enemies often drop potions that restore a bit of your health when defeated. Hearts can be purchased that bring you back from the dead should you perish. And when you’re out of hearts and meet your demise, you’re given an option: use a Casual Continue, or a Hardcore Continue. Use the former, and you’ll resume your game with minimal loss of progress, but you won’t be able to choose the Hardcore Continue option any more. A Hardcore Continue isn’t all that hardcore in the grand scheme of things, though; it simply takes you back to your last save.

After going hands-on with Infernax, we’re now rather looking forward to its release. As fans of old-fashioned platform games and metroidvanias, it’s impressed us with its engaging gameplay and charming visuals. Add in additional features that we weren’t expecting, such as character development and a choice system, and you have a game that might surprise players when it launches on PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Switch and PC.

The good news is there isn’t long to wait: a release date for Infernax has been set for 14th February. That’s right, Valentine’s Day. If you’re keen on picking it up, why not play it with your loved one? You know what they say: those who slay together, stay together. Or maybe we’re making that up.