Inspired by classics such as Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Castlevania II, Infernax revels in its retro aesthetic.
Scratch underneath the surface, however, and you’ll find a game that’s surprisingly deep, and also rather welcoming. Developed by Berzerk Studio, this is a 2D side-scrolling action RPG that posits you as a crusader named Alcedor (though you can change his name if you want). Upon arriving back to his homeland, he’s found it to be infested with some sort of darkness. The interesting thing is, Infernax allows you to fight against it or become a part of the problem.
Essentially a small-scale metroidvania, the world of Infernax is split into numerous connected areas. Initially you’ll only be able to explore a small portion of the world, but as you acquire new skills, you’ll be able to access new areas and continue your journey. Your goal is to primarily locate and destroy a number of powerful bosses. But along the way, there are countless side quests to be undertaken, and tough choices to make.
It isn’t long into Infernax that you have to make your first snap decision. Faced with a villager who appears to be in some kind of distress, you’re given the choice of whether to slay him where he stands or help. You better think hard, though, because in the world of Infernax your choices have a real impact, and things may not always go as you predict. Needless to say, there’s scope for replayability here, with numerous endings to unlock.
Chances are you won’t need the carrot of multiple endings dangling in front of you to play through Infernax more than once, however; the gameplay is enough to encourage you to do that. It’s rather simple, but in a way that makes it effortlessly fun to play. Equipped with a mace, you can pound on your enemies, and ultimately make use of numerous special directional attacks. There are also numerous magic spells to obtain, and a whole host of upgrades. Throw in your nifty ability to block certain incoming attacks with your shield, and you have a combat system that doesn’t overwhelm you but has a welcoming amount of depth.
It’s reasonably accessible, too. While the games it’s inspired by are tough as nails, Infernax has a few lifelines for those who want a more breezy adventure. For a start, there are two difficulty modes, Classic and Casual. On Casual, you’ll find there are more save points which also heal you, and you start with an extra life. For those who still find themselves at an impasse, however, there’s an accessibility menu that enables the use of a “Game Wizard”; a cheeky nod to the cheat systems of yesteryear, allowing invincibility to be toggled on or off, and more.
Of course, Infernax is best enjoyed with a degree of challenge, and there’s nothing more rewarding than improving your character over time. Sometimes you’ll need to employ your brain, too, with numerous paths leading to what appear to be dead ends until you make use of a spell. While there is a natural day and night cycle, you might want to take matters into your own hands by casting a spell to do it manually, for example, forcing a lycanthropic villager to turn into a powerful werewolf.
Infernax does suffer from some of the typical pitfalls of the genre, though; mainly the tedium of frequent backtracking. You’ll visit many areas multiple times as you vie to complete side-quests and propel the story forward, and sometimes traipsing through them, defeating the same enemies over and over again can get a bit dull. If only you could fast-travel between the many save points dotted throughout the world.
A gory affair, there’s a hell of a lot to like about Infernax. The tried-and-tested gameplay sits alongside purposefully dated but nonetheless charming visuals, but the freedom you have really sets this apart from other games in the genre. Will you save the world or be a blight on it? That’s up to you. And while you may always have good intentions, sometimes your decision can have unexpected results. In any case, you’ll have a lot of fun slaying monsters and developing Alcedor as you play.
Infernax Review – GameSpew’s Score