Infernax review for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Developer: Berzerk Studio
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Very early on in Infernax, there?s a scene that pretty much captures the game in a nutshell. After killing a few monsters, a villager approaches your character begging you to kill him. You then have a choice of fulfilling his request, or sparing him to try to save him. If you choose to kill ? which I?ll be honest, I did without a moment?s hesitation ? the game then renders your mace clobbering his skull in full 16-bit glory.

So: retro vibes, a few choices here and there, lots of violence, and bucketsful of gore. If that?s not Infernax in a nutshell, I don?t know what is.

Obviously, apart from maybe the level of gore, none of this is particularly new. is a Metroidvania, with an emphasis on the ?-vania?, since the old-school Castlevania influence is very strong here. The graphics and the chiptunes score both feel like they could?ve come straight out of an SNES-era game, if not a NES-era game.

Moreover, it?s not like there aren?t other games from recent years that fill the exact same niche. Case in point: I had Infernax?s Steam page open in one tab and a video from Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon in another, and it took me a several moments before I realized I was looking at Bloodstained when I thought I?d tabbed over to Infernax.

What finally made me realize my error? The blood. As I said, this is a very gory game. Blood explodes from every enemy you come across; even when you?re just getting your first hits in, you know you?ve made contact because blood spatter stays on them. Monsters eat bloody corpses. When you die, everything goes red and black as the last hit on you basically makes your body explode into countless little chunks. If this were a more modern-looking game, it would probably be enough to make you queasy, but as it stands, it?s just crazy amounts of 16-bit blood.

But all that blood makes for some pretty satisfying combat. Infernax gets that what made those old games so satisfying ? it wasn?t being tough as nails, it was having gameplay that?s simultaneously easy to figure out but that still requires a great deal of skill to master. You get that here in spades, and the developers deserve some credit for also including a ?casual? option ? which isn?t significantly easier, but which at least offers more save points and takes away less of your resources after you die. (Though trust me: you?ll still die a lot.)

Taken altogether, it makes for a pretty great experience. Whatever Infernax may lack in originality, it makes up for by being not just a great homage to its influences, but being a blast to play. It may only be February, but I?ve found one game that?s a lock to be one of my favourite games of the year.

The Arcade Crew provided us with an Infernax PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A