The beauty of the indie game scene is that a developer can go from making one really good game to following it up with something completely different. Berzerk Studio is one such example as they made the multiplayer bullet-hell game Just Shapes & Beats and now have created a 2D side-scrolling action game Infernax that is bound to remind you of games like Castlevania II. Published by The Arcade Crew, is Infernax worthy of following in the footsteps of the classic games that it was inspired by? I won’t leave you in suspense as the answer is absolutely yes.
You play as a knight named Alcedor (or a name of your choosing) who has returned home only to find the land full of demons and monsters. It falls upon you to explore an open Metroidvania-like world and put an end to the corruption. I have to say that Infernax is a game that kept on surprising me. For starters, I didn’t expect there to be a morality system in a game like this with choices to make that will influence things. You run into one of these early on with a man pleading for you to kill him. Do you or do you let him live and witness the effect of that choice? You’ll make many of these with various NPC characters you run into over the course of the game and you can get several different endings depending on your choices.
The presentation work in Infernax is one of the best things about it. The game is very gory and full of grotesque imagery but I couldn’t get enough of it. Alcedor and your enemies can all die in many different gruesome ways. Those enemies also have great designs with all kinds of different horrific body shapes with that especially being true for the bosses that you’ll fight. The chiptune music is also great with it fitting the horror vibe that this game has going for it.
Infernax isn’t an easy game but there are options here to tailor it to how you want. Playing on Casual will give you move lives while Classic offers up the more old-school, tougher approach. There are even cheat codes you can input that do some interesting things that I won’t spoil here but you should absolutely try them. The actual gameplay is a ton of fun and easy to learn. You can beat up your enemies with your mace or make use of different magic attacks. The mace is the only weapon you get in the game and because of that it does get a little repetitive but your other tools help offset that a bit. Over the course of the game you’ll gain new abilities by spending XP (with some tied to choices you do or don’t make) opening up new ways to approach situations. You can gain one to deflect enemy attacks back at them or perform a summoning to distract your foes. Navigating the levels by platforming around is also enjoyable and the level designs offer up plenty of challenge with fire pits and other hazards just waiting to end you.
Infernax is packed with things to see and do and you can either try to mainline your way to the end or take your time to fully explore and take on various side quests from people. Even if you try to do everything. the game is still only around 6 hours or so but that felt just right to me for this type of game. With this game having multiple endings you’ll likely want to play it a few times anyway as I plan to go back and do.
Berzerk Studio has crafted something horrifically special with Infernax with it being one of the finest old-school action-adventure games I’ve played in some time. Every part of this game just screams quality from the art work, to the soundtrack, to the gameplay and how your choices affect the world you’re in. The game is unapologetic-ally gory and gruesome and that may not be for everyone but it was absolutely for me. Infernax may have been flying under the radar but you should absolutely add this one to your must-play list in 2022.
*Infernax is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.