I’m somewhat of a sadist when it comes to the games I typically enjoy. I often seek out those games known for their ridiculous difficulty, and Infernax is certainly no stranger to this criticism. In fact, I’d actually argue that Infernax is one of the easier platformers I’ve had the pleasure of romping through because of the dedication to the spirit of its inspiration.
Directly inspired by Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Infernax playfully straddles the line between carefully constructed retro nostalgia and painfully cheap rage inducing troll bait with some cleverly witty humor weaved in between. Read on to discover what other fancies this game delights in our Infernax review.
Developer: Berzerk Studio
Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Release Date: February 14, 2022
Price: $19.99 USD
Infernax has you take up the mantle of a crusader named Alcedor who’s long grown weary of the endless battles of the crusades and decided he’d return home to rest. Of course, Alcedor returns home to find that his hometown has been threatened by a monstrous scourge of evil magics brought forth by a shadowy crimson cloaked group of cultists.
At the helm of the cult stands their detestable leader: the wretched and vile.. Robert. In a similar fashion of how you learned the name of the mysterious enchanter in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Infernax borrows similar dead pan or outright ridiculous notions in a manner that would make John Cleese giggle with delight.
Alcedor’s main quest is to go and destroy the villains who hold each of the five gems which form a seal around the church in the center of the world map. As each of the dungeons are cleared, you’ll challenge a boss and then destroy the gem that falls in from the ceiling. You might remember this mechanic from defeating bosses in those old NES games which are lovingly referenced in Infernax.
Each dungeon not only houses a boss and a gem, but you’ll also find an ability buried away within each level. Some dungeons contain spells while others contain a powerful move that Alcedor can learn which grants him access to areas of the map that may previously have been blocked by a breakable brick or a ledge that’s just slightly out of reach. If you’ve ever played Blaster Master, this is a concept you’ll be all too familiar with.
While Infernax certainly isn’t the longest or the deepest game on the market, it’s full of reasons to keep coming back. There are five different endings, and each ending provides you with a notebook that may give you a hint toward unlocking yet another secret.
For example, one notebook will suggest that you give the old Konami code a shot and see what happens. Entering it at the title screen will flash a side scrolling message and present you with Alcedor sporting an all too familiar look from Konami’s venerable side-scrolling shooter Contra.
Alcedor becomes Maxime Gunn, complete with a machine gun and a remixed version of the Shores of Upel theme that’s been inspired by the Jungle theme.
Infernax is filled with references and throwbacks to the games it drew inspiration from. Finding food in the wall was a common feat in Castlevania, but actually eating it will have a different impact here.
As you progress through Infernax, you’ll talk to people in the towns and get side quests that often end with hilarious stories or ludicrous fights. Infernax is pretty weird name for a side scroller, but is there even a meaning here? I don’t think so aside from being a dope name for a Metal band, which the game lovingly pays homage to by way of achievements named after classic Metal songs.
Metal staples, such as Slayer’s Reign in Blood, Eternal Champion’s The Armor of Ire, and AC/DC’s Thunderstruck are just a sample of the songs that give namesake to the achievements you’ll find in Infernax.
The platforming feels just right, and there’s really only one spot that contains a jump that’s extremely difficult to make. Fortunately, the more you play the more you learn and you’ll find some neat tricks to make life easier – including eventually getting a Teleport spell that will allow you to teleport to any save shrine you’ve visited on the map.
Combat is fair, and only one or two of the bosses really had an attack pattern that I wasn’t able to figure out during the first attempt. Some bosses have some tricks where they gain a new attack once their health reaches a certain point but none of them are unfair – only the final boss of the fully evil playthrough gave me any sense of controller breaking frustration.
How can you not laugh at a boss that’s a giant goat demon with breast implants? Infernax aims to deliver a retro experience that’s as much fun as it is serious, and aside from some minor bugs, I’ve had a lot of fun blowing through this game multiple times.
If you’re a fan of classic Castlevania, you’re gonna like Infernax – and it’s so refreshing to play something that isn’t a soulslike or a roguelike and instead offers a true return to the days of old.
Infernax was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a code provided by The Arcade Crew. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Infernax releases February 14th, 2022 on all major platforms.