Infernax review (PS4)

Infernax, from developer Berzerk Studio and publisher The Arcade Crew, blends the 2D gameplay of NES-era Metroid and Castlevania games. It’s out now for all major systems – our review was done on a PlayStation 4.

When you’re faced with batches of screenshots and trailers for indie games that use an 8-bit visual style as often as we are, it gets hard to tell which project look like they might end up being something special. Infernal stood out when it was announced though, because on top of some rather brutal 8-bit pixel art gameplay was the promise of impactful narrative choices – that’s certainly not something you see every day in this genre.

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With definite nods towards the medieval themes of Castlevania, Infernax casts you as Alcedor, who returns from the Crusades to find his home invaded by an evil cult and their demons. It’s up to you to kill five monsters and get to the castle where the final boss is – a fairly standard premise when you consider its sources of inspiration.

Also familiar is Infernax’ side-scrolling gameplay, which is a mix of platforming and combat, in which a mace is your primary weapon. You also have access to magic, which includes defensive spells like a force field as well as more offensive perks. These help in combat, but getting to where you need to go might also be a case of acquiring a particular skill first – in true Metroidvania fashion. It’s not a purely gameplay-focused implementation of those mechanics though, as Infernax’ story will take you to different locations, tackle side quests and engage with NPCs – offering action RPG elements that you also see when upgrading through XP. And those narrative decisions mentioned earlier? They’ll lead to a branching story where each version has its own quests and even abilities to uncover.

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What’s funny is that we thought that that sounded a bit like Dying Light 2, only to then find out that Infernax also features a day and night cycle. And as with Techland’s new game, the dangers you face at night are different, even though some missions are tied to the nighttime hours. But while Dying Light 2 is a big AAA production, Infernax has a distinct retro flair to it. NES-style graphics are backed up by chiptune ditties, which should please those who enjoy modern mechanics but still feel nostalgic for the olden days.

In the widely popular Metroidvania genre, Infernax is one of the better recent examples. Its core gameplay is solid, and it successfully introduces modern tweaks with its branching story and day/night cycle. An easy recommendation.

Score: 8.0/10

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