Reviews - Updated on September 23, 2022

If you think “it used to be better” and you miss the complex games of the NES and Famicom era, then Infernax is made especially for you. She brings the players back to the 80s, almost verbatim quoting one of the legendary platformers of that time, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Over time, the attitude towards this game has changed, but apparently it has not ceased to inspire independent developers.

fight again

In the role of a young duke (whose name they offer to choose for yourself), we return home after a series of crusades. Our hero was not in his native land for so long that he missed the appearance of all kinds of evil spirits on the holy lands. Without taking off his armor and without laying aside his mace, the duke sets off on his next journey and stumbles upon a door locked with a magical seal. To remove it, you need to find five neighboring castles and defeat the bosses in them – then you can put an end to the curse.

Infernax: Review

Where without an inverted star?

Already here you can see similarities with the sequel to Castlevania, only there we were looking for five parts of Dracula’s body. Here, as in the Konami classics, religious motifs are constantly traced: churches with ministers and holy fathers, crosses on the menu and on tombstones, inverted stars everywhere. The artists of Infernax tried to convey the atmosphere of gothic hopelessness, with skulls, hangmen, half-dead prisoners in cages and other details. A little more, and everything would be more like a parody, but the game successfully balances on the edge.

Despite the fact that we seem to be playing for a valiant knight in armor, it is not at all necessary to remain a good man. More than once, Infernax will offer to make a choice that will affect the story. Do you see a tramp who is clearly not feeling well and asks to be killed – to fulfill his request or try to help? Some cultists have set up camp next to the store – listen to the salesman and drive them away or join them? The consequences can be unexpected and appear completely suddenly, and in the end you will complete the game on the side of good or evil, for which you will receive the corresponding achievement. A reason to replay the campaign and act differently in each situation.

Infernax: Review

Can you help this?

The gameplay is a metroidvania with all the usual elements, such as a side view, interconnected regions with forks and areas that are inaccessible until new skills are acquired. The main character has a very limited set of skills: he jumps, crouches and hits with a mace. Over time, new abilities open up, but there are very few combat ones among them – they are mainly needed to reach new locations.

no pity

With the games of the NES era, Infernax has in common how difficult it is. Especially at first, when the character is frail – and he has little health, and the skeleton must be hit three times before it falls apart. For defeating enemies, you get experience and gold – the first is spent on improving characteristics (protection, health and mana), and the second is needed to buy goods in shops. These are new maces, and stronger armor, and “lives” that allow you to resurrect in the same room in case of death.

And here you can beat off enemy projectiles with a mace.

The game offers two modes: classic and normal. In both, altars are scattered around the map, in which they allow you to save progress, so that in the event of a final death, you will be reborn next to them. In classic mode, there are fewer such altars, and the experience and gold earned after the last save are taken away if the player dies. In the usual one, there are more save points and the currency is not completely taken away.

Of course, you want to complete the game in the classic mode, but get ready for a severe test. The level design is clearly inspired by classic games: opponents are sure to appear where they would not be better, and platforming is not easy. Sometimes the camera is specially raised so that you cannot see where the platforms are located below – this is a test of attentiveness, since everything could be seen in the first seconds after appearing in a new room.

Infernax: Review

Enemies often back away if you approach them, but sometimes they decide to shoot.

In one of the episodes, you will find yourself on a dam, where you need to jump on spinning wheels and at the same time shoot down flying enemies with a mace. Fell into the water – died with the ends. In another, you need to run across the platforms when monsters jump out of the water, spears fly out of the walls and floor, and teleporting magicians shoot fireballs. It sounds scarier than it really is, but still, moments like these can seem unfairly difficult. Therefore, it is advisable to grind from time to time and save up currency for good equipment – it will not save you from falling into the abyss, but other obstacles will become a little easier.

Basically, difficulties arise in castles. They are arranged in such a way that the path to the boss is closed and you first need to find one or two keys (or some kind of ability in general). But you won’t immediately know whether you need to go to the left for the key, to the right or even upstairs – you have to look for it through trial and error. Sometimes, after taking the key, you return outside to save yourself and not run after it after death. In a couple of castles, I got the feeling that the game did not involve such an approach to passing (some design decisions indicated this), but it was still possible to do it.

Infernax: Review

The shield, by the way, saves from projectiles – it’s enough not to swing the mace when something flies at you. Sometimes it is also desirable to duck – in the second half of the game, enemies like to shoot at the legs.

In most cases, the path to the boss is much more stressful than the fight with him. When you increase your health, get normal armor and a mace, and learn a healing spell, the bosses will start to fall apart in a few seconds – they have few moves, and reaching a weak point is usually easy. But this can hardly be called a disadvantage – for me, simple fights, on the contrary, became a reward for the previous torment. Of course, at any time you can switch to normal mode, save experience after each death and quickly pump the hero to the maximum, but the game was clearly not designed like that.

Outside of the castles, the game tries to be a lot like Castlevania II: settlements with houses where the characters scurry back and forth and say a couple of phrases when you talk to them; the lack of signs and explanations of what to do – remember yourself where you saw a high platform, which you can jump on only now. At some point, you will need to use a spell to make the castle appear, but I only found out about this from the Internet – before that I had to run aimlessly all over the map. Even the change of day and night is here – after sunset, more jumpy, fast and dangerous monsters appear on the streets, for which they give more experience.

Infernax: Review

Meeting with each boss is accompanied by such a scene.

In addition to the main plot with the search for five demons, there are other entertainments. Some characters in cities can give you side tasks, and these people are no different from ordinary extras, so you need to communicate with everyone. Someone knows about the skeleton that appears at night in some region, someone asks to save her husband from adversity. These quests not only bring the world to life and can affect the ending, but also allow you to earn experience and gold. If you want to do everything you can here, the passage will be able to stretch out for 10 hours – or less if you don’t die too often.

Infernax, when played in classic mode, is like a lost Famicom game – neater than the releases of that era, but just as complex and merciless. You can’t call it mandatory, but fans of such sadistic entertainment will definitely not be disappointed.

Pros: a good attempt to create something in the spirit of Castlevania II and other games from old consoles; an unusual idea with moral decisions that lead to different endings and give a reason to replay the game; good location design; a high level of difficulty, which inexperienced players can change to an easier one.

Cons: it is not always clear what to do next; not all castles are equally well balanced; it is desirable to grind gold and experience.

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