You could look at Infernax and think to yourself, ‘This looks like a lot of other Metroidvania-style titles available on the Nintendo Switch right now’, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The old-school visuals, inaccessible areas requiring specific skills to reach, a tough difficulty that’ll really push your skills… yeah, it has all of the hallmarks of the genre, which can be both a good and bad thing – especially when you consider how many Metroidvania-style titles are actually available on the Nintendo Switch right now.
However, whilst some gamers will have a sense of familiarity when playing, Infernax brings plenty of its own cool ideas to the mix to help it stand out in the genre. It isn’t screaming with originality, sure, but the choice-making and player progression really complement the already fun gameplay loop, which in turn helps makes for a very rewarding experience.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Infernax puts players in the role of Alcedor, a knight whose homeland has been ruined by a vicious evil that brings with its hordes of monstrosities. It’s up to you to take them out and protect the people of the land, which means killing some demons and smashing up the source of the evil. Just another day in the office for the protagonist of a Metroidvania-style game, right?
What helps make Infernax’s narrative stand out are the choices you make during the adventure. You’ll face pivotal moments where the actions you take will bring with them consequences that won’t only affect the gameplay, but also how events play out. You’ll face one of these choices early on: do you kill the infected villager or do you let him live? These might seem like straight-forward decisions, but you never know how these choices will change the world’s perception of Alcedor or how they might reward (or punish) him – sure, some choices will give you some powerful weapons and spells, but at what cost? It’s a really cool system that helps give the game a lot more personality, with each action I took always leaving me second-guessing whether or not I did the right thing.
“These might seem like straight-forward decisions, but you never know how these choices will change the world’s perception of Alcedor or how they might reward (or punish) him – sure, some choices will give you some powerful weapons and spells, but at what cost?”
Gameplay-wise, Infernax does keep things pretty simple, with players able to run, jump, duck, and attack enemies with their mace. The best point of comparison would be the earlier Castlevania titles, with the game clearly drawing a lot of inspiration from Konami’s famed series. There are plenty of enemies to kill along the way who bring with them a variety of attacks that’ll chip into your health bar, whilst each area brings with them platforming segments that can punish you with instant-death if you mistime a jump and fall into a trap. You know how I said the game plays like Castlevania? Well, it can be as punishing as the series too.
Thankfully, players earn new abilities as they progress through the game, with some allowing you to traverse across the environment with ease and others proving beneficial in combat. Things like the healing spell or the ability to hit enemy’s projectiles back at them go a long way in making it easier to survive, whilst things like the thunder spell can make defeating enemies a breeze too. Unlocking these abilities felt empowering and it always felt good to play with each new trick I earned, with battles with enemies staying fresh and fun thanks to it.
There’s another element of player progression with the levelling system too, with players earning experience points as they defeat enemies that they can spend to improve their stats, whilst gold can be spent to upgrade your gear or purchase new items. It was a little disappointing that you’ll only get to use your mace throughout the game, but being able to make it stronger to help pulverise enemies that caused issues earlier on does make up for it.
“It’s a very gory game, impressively so given its 8-bit visuals, but it fits the tone of the adventure perfectly.”
You’ll need to level up too, because believe me, Infernax can be tough. Not in an unfair or overwhelming manner that makes the game frustrating to play though, but rather in a way that demands preparation from the player. There’ll be times when you’re better off grinding for XP and gold in order to upgrade your stats or buy more healing items, with enemies respawning every time you rest at one of the many Shrines littered across the world (which also act as checkpoints). The lack of weapon variety can make some instances of grinding drag out a little, but it always felt worthwhile in the long run.
You’ll also earn experience and gold by completing the side quests found across the world or simply by progressing through the story and clearing the trap-filled castles that home the game’s bosses. The boss battles of Infernax do stand out as one of the game’s strongest aspects with some impressive monstrosities to face off against that bring with them some slick combat skills. However, there were a few that felt a little frustrating, with my success often coming down to luck more than genuine skill – it’s as if the difficulty balance was a little skewed in these encounters as opposed to feeling ‘tough but fair’. There’s definitely a lot more good than bad though, so it’s hard to complain too much.
I really enjoyed playing through Infernax, with the roughly five-hour adventure offering plenty of thrills and spills that kept me utterly engrossed. And believe me, there are LOTS of spills… blood spills, that is, with the game a very gruesome one that sees blood and guts splattered everywhere. It’s a very gory game, impressively so given its 8-bit visuals, but it fits the tone of the adventure perfectly. Visually, everything looks nice thanks to the slick and well-designed (and very old-school) visuals, but you’ll be especially fond of the aesthetic if you like the colour red…
Infernax is a fun 2D adventure that bring with it plenty of thrilling encounters with enemies, satisfying player progression, and lots (and lots) of gore. It’s very old-school in design and bears a lot of hallmarks of the Metroidvania genre, but it also brings in enough of its own ideas to help it stand out in the crowd.
It’s just a really enjoyable game and one that old-school purists who don’t mind a bit of challenge are sure to love.
Developer: Berzerk Studio
Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC