It is such a pleasure when games pay homage to classics from way back in the 1980s, and Infernax just happens to be one of those. This metroidvania pays incredible respect to classic Castlevania titles while also being its own. This is a relatively large experience that will entertain from start to finish, and it looks wonderful throughout.
So is Infernax the modern-day classic we have been longing for? Or is this just another attempt to cash in on nostalgia?
The story of Infernax follows a young duke that is exhausted from an aggressive and violent Crusades, and he seeks to find some refuge in his home. Unfortunately, unaware that something came back from the Holy Land to his home the year before, the young duke finds himself in the midst of a madman’s power hungry quest to bring destruction, meaning his homeland is haunted by demons, zombies, and horrific monsters.
Instead of the rest our young duke desires, he finds himself in the midst of another aggressive and violent adventure with very little hope in sight.
I love the backdrop here and how the young duke finally returns from the Crusades. The visual of going from one awful war to another paints a vivid picture of the times and the evils, and seeing the young duke pray and interact with his townsfolk is interesting. The tragic options given to the duke, too, like helping or killing possessed individuals, is yet another daunting task and heavy weight thrown on. I mean, the Crusades were already tough. Infernax just adds another layer.
Infernax is a classic-styled metroidvania very much in the same vein as Castlevania. Although it takes a lot of look and feel from the Castlevania franchise, Infernax is still somehow its own, even with the delicious NES-era pixel graphics. This is a title that does not simply pay homage to greats before it, but it also tries to cement its own legacy within the indie nostalgia market.
The young duke definitely has a bit of a Belmont-vibe about him, and that is a good thing! That means older players who are familiar with this style of gameplay will waltz right back in like the old days. Newer players may bite off more than they can chew, because Infernax does not play around. This is not just oldschool in regards to graphics and sound, but it is also oldschool in its challenge and difficulty. Saves are far apart, and dungeon areas can result in some tragic hair-pulling and controlling-throwing. Thankfully, though, Infernax offers both a Classic style that caters to that particular crowd and a Casual style that is a bit less painful.
Combat is where things get a little dicey for me, though. Although this definitely has the look and feel of those older titles, the combat is tight. What I mean is that the young duke is not equipped with the long whip of a Simon Belmont. No, no. His mace/club has a lot less range, and it can definitely make for some harder gameplay than it should be. And the fact that challenging areas may bring you to the point to change to the Casual setting, doing so will be permanent with no option to return to Classic without resetting the game.
On the plus side, however, Infernax does a great job with experience and money, as farming is fairly simple to do. The overworld is not so massive, so walking around killing baddies in the day time or night time (Yes, time changes every so often, introducing different enemies) can earn you XP to upgrade health, mana, or strength and coins to help purchase armor, potions, spells, and more. I think this is a great setup that counters the high difficulty well, as you can go out and farm for a few minutes to upgrade your health or strength to help you in the dungeon you may be stuck on.
We have to talk about these dungeons/castles, though, because HOLY CRAP, are they hard. Remember when I said that saves are spread out? Well, in these dungeons, saves are basically non-existent, and death is around every corner. It doesn’t matter how much health you have or how many potions you have on hand, one dip into water, lava, etc will kill you and erase all progress in the dungeon. There is a tip, though, even if it is unconventional and seemingly a waste of time (hehe), and that is you can exit the dungeon at any point to save certain progress. It is very helpful for those that are having trouble but don’t want to revert to Casual.
One of my favorite areas of Infernax happens to be the boss fights. Despite how insanely hard the dungeons can be, the bosses are equal parts fair and challenging, and they all look incredible as well. After “conquering” (I use that word lightly) the dungeon, it does feel like a difficulty step down when you get towards the end and fight the boss. Remember, though, death at the boss will result in a respawn outside the dungeon, which is devastating. Despite that, the bosses are loads of fun!
One of Infernax‘s biggest strengths is in its decisions. At many points in the game, you are given options that can change things drastically, which adds tremendously replay value, as I instantly wanted to return to the game after clearing to see what happens when you make different choices.
Overall, Infernax is about a 6-7 hour experience, and that also depends on skill level. The pixel graphics are amazing, especially the animated cutscenes and slides. The soundtrack is absolutely incredible, and it definitely offers the perfect backdrop to everything happening. The combat is all right, and it can feel more frustrating in the incredibly difficult dungeons, but it is all worth it to encounter the excellent bosses sprinkled throughout the game.
If you are looking for a Souls-like adventure that feels like it belongs on a NES/SNES, then look no further. Infernax is an ass-kicker, but it is one that you will enjoy as the challenge all the way through provides both a unique experience and one that is genuinely difficult to forget.
Infernax Switch Review provided by Nintendo Link
Review also found on OpenCritic
Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Developer: Berzerk Studio
Release Date: February 14th, 2022
Price: $19.99, £17.99, €19,99
Game Size: 345 MB
Excellent pixel graphics
Heavy story with interesting decision-making
Awesome boss fights
Good XP and coin system
Combat is quite the close encounter
Dungeons can be unforgiving (Albeit still fun)
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.