Whenever a retro throwback game is made, it has the opportunity to do something different from the classics. It can obviously make the most of modern hardware and game engines. It can learn from a diverse field of games, both old and new. Mostly, it can do things that previous games could not, like be excessively violent. Infernax takes inspiration from Zelda II, the NES Castlevania games, and Faxanadu and cranks the blood and gore up to 10 to make a new retro classic.
The Role You Play
You play as Alcedor, the Duke of the Duchy of Upel. Alcedor fights with a mace and has to battle undead demons throughout his homeland and beyond. You can also learn several different types of magic used for healing, combat and assistance. There are also numerous platforming sections throughout the game, and as you progress, Alcedor will learn new abilities that allow him to access new areas
Throughout the game, you have several opportunities to be a benevolent or an oppressive Duke. You are given multiple moral dilemmas and can choose the good or evil option. Each option has its own set of consequences that can reveal itself immediately or later on in the game.
Alcedor has been away from home for over a year fighting in the crusades. During that time, someone has brought a book of great power written by a madman. The book has caused the dead to rise and turned people into monsters. It has also placed a seal on the door of the Urzon Citadel that has to be broken by destroyed five magical gems at five different locations.
After learning that, that’s where the details of the plot end. You never learn anything else about the origins of the book or the mastermind behind it. There’s also little to no build-up to any of the places you go or any of the big monsters you end up fighting.
Infernax is a Metroidvania-style platformer with some RPG elements thrown in. You explore the world and battle through ghosts, zombies and other abominations while navigating other hazards like spear launchers, lava pits, spinning gears, and spikes. There are also regular boss battles with large grotesque demons that cap off the dungeons you explore. All of this keeps the gameplay fresh and varied and makes for a very good experience.
Infernax has an open world to explore and a total of five dungeons to complete. There are also a handful of sidequests you can receive from the various townspeople. Each one can give you gold, XP or an item that can help you along the way. There is also the option of replaying the game multiple times to pursue the different endings from the different moral choice options. As far as just completing the main game, it takes roughly 6 hours to finish.
The invocation of classic Castlevania continues into the game’s soundtrack. The soundtrack has a modern retro-style chiptune soundtrack, rather similar to the one in Shovel Knight, but more geared to a horror Metroidvania. There is a lot of horror and dread when exploring the world at night. It can also be felt when exploring the dungeons and battling the tougher enemies. At other times, the soundtrack takes a more upbeat feel, like when visiting the towns. The different world sections can also encapsulate the feel of their settings, like an open plain, a snowy mountain, or a haunted graveyard.
While Infernax definitely tries to resemble an NES classic, it stands apart from them all in a very big way. There is a lot of blood and gore in this game. Most of the enemies you kill will spray blood on you, and it will linger on your face and clothes as you continue to explore. Bigger boss-type enemies will explode and spray blood and guts and viscera all over the screen.
It also happens when Alcedor dies. There is a wide variety of silhouetted death animations of him drowning, being impaled, and getting ferociously ripped apart by enemies. While it may be more common with more recent games, it’s a stand-out feature for an 8-bit game like this.
The Talking Parts
There are a lot of side missions that you get to have where you interact with various townspeople and assist them with side quests. These are made livelier by well-drawn cutscenes and moral choice options where you have to choose an option. Some of these options can include kicking a group of squatters off of someone’s land or drinking with them. Each one has its own set of consequences, and they play out at different stages of the game.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
Infernax feels like a few features are missing from its development. The most key feature missing is a harder difficulty setting. The game is already pretty easy as it is, save for some of the platforming sections. It gets even easier when you have the option to grind for experience and increase your damage, health, and magic points. The bosses in particular don’t provide the same level of challenge as the rest of the game. It leaves the overall feeling a bit unbalanced and unsatisfactory.
Anyone who is a fan of Castlevania II, Zelda II or Faxanadu will love Infernax. It gets the look and feel of a retro throwback just right. It’s not perfect by any means, but neither were any of the games it’s drawing inspiration from. It’s a bloody good time and I mean that in more ways than one.
Final Score: 8/10
2D Action Adventure Asymmetric Cellar Door Games Colorful comedy cute Cyberpunk Dungeon Crawler Enix fantasy FIrst-Person Greg Lebanov Hack and Slash horror Humble Games Hypetrain DIgital indie LGBTQ+ Magic metroidvania Microsoft Studios Natsume nintendo pixel graphics Platformer Playstation Quintet retro roguelike RPG Sci-Fi Simulation Singleplayer South Park Studios Square Squaresoft Super Nintendo Taito tower defense turn-based Ubisoft Vampire Zelda-Like