Monday, May 23rd, 2022

“Infernax” blends the best of Zelda II and Castlevania II while skipping flaws

The eShop is full of retro-style titles that pay homage to the iconic games of the 8-bit and 16-bit era. From intense ninjas like The Messenger and Cyber ​​Shadow to high-profile efforts like Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and its sequels, there are many titles that have turned the genre’s classics back and forth and very modern. .. Another thing I’m aiming for is to put that mark right away InfernacsReleased on Valentine’s Day (February 14th).

This retro-style tribute has a remarkable pedigree. It was developed by Berzerk Studio and brought excellent Just Shapes & Beats. The publisher is also The Arcade Crew, a subsidiary of Dotemu, which has supported distribution such as Blazing Chrome.

I’ve confidently stepped into Infernax’s short PC demo, but the impact of this particular game could be enough to pause. It’s drawn from the classics, but it’s definitely a more famous game because it’s an outlier for a well-known franchise. Yes, if you compare Infernax to the game 25-30 years ago, you can say that it shares aspects of Zelda II: Link’s Adventure and Castlevania II: Simon’s quest. Great man of each IP. These games are enthusiastic about their fans and have been reassessed after Dark Souls, but they rarely get to the top of the “Best of” list.

Image: Berzerk Studio

To rewind a bit, Infernax sets the scene in a way that is familiar to the new retro indie scene. The pulsing chiptune sound and pixel art tell the story of a knight who is psychologically exhausted after many years of war in the Crusades. In this 12th-13th century setting, prepare for some medieval battles and places before jumping into the familiar evil metaphor that wipes out the land in the form of zombies, floating eyes, and grotesque monsters. So far, the late 80’s.

The first play takes full advantage of the 8-bit Castlevania Dracula as you walk, jump and beat along a basic horizontal attack. Zombies, annoying little kyphosis thingEyeballs, scuttling giant insects; it’s all familiar, but delivered stylishly. It’s also felt early on that the game isn’t overly tolerant. Hits make it even more cruel, two points away from the health bar. However, it’s clear that developers want all types of players to have fun. The “casual” setting allows you to reboot at a fraction of the cost. You can use the “Hardcore” option to undo and regain the drop. Either way, you can never relax on the seemingly simple initial screen. The game over screen is never far away.

This early part is nicely organized using pixel-based styling, which works great as the literally barbaric monsters are fluttering at the town gates.

After a relatively short period of monster bashing, you will arrive at the village. In the village, we start to feel a little Zelda II, the theme we will return to later. After a while, the door opens and some characters interact, but in this build it was emphasized as “ultra-early” and hasn’t been said by many villagers since last year. The opening is also fairly straightforward as you come across an existential battle of the town for survival against the onslaught of monsters. It’s nicely organized in this early part, and it works great because its pixel art is used to literally flutter savage monsters at the town gates.

Next, the demo introduced the first of the three boss battles we played. This boss was at the beginning of the game, so it was simple, but a little touch started to shine. Soldiers fighting with you will brutally scatter during the battle. The monster itself is a pretty crude and horrifying creation in the best possible way. The first 30-45 minutes will be a quest to hunt down this beast, but the story is simple and well told. Brave soldiers start fighting, but as you progress you will only encounter their bodies and even brutal murders. You’ll soon find that animations and artwork are top notch and this isn’t a children’s game.

Our demo eventually took us to the dungeon. The influence of Zelda II was shining a little more there. We had to figure out some keys and began to meet more subtle enemies. Some throw a spear, some automatically block when the character doesn’t move, while others throw a classic arched ax. Then there was an enemy with a shield that needed a little more strategy and patience to defeat. An idea borrowed from the old game era, but realized with modern sophistication and skill.

Infernax Screen2
Image: Berzerk Studio

The screen doesn’t do that right (you can see the trailer at the top of the page with the new release date to see how the game works), but this PC build also looks and sounds great. Frankly, we will be surprised. If your presentation on Switch is just as bad, given your art style. Music has a real punch with old-fashioned sound samples, and developers, like many others, imitate retro visuals while incorporating modern techniques to suit modern displays and sensibilities. I found it to be balanced.

There is also a lot of charm and humor. For example, each death is free, as the screen turns red and the victorious enemies make your corpse brutal in the shadows. The enemy’s design was also great, and the second boss we encountered was even more rebellious than the first boss. The developers clearly enjoyed the effort to emphasize the violence and corrupt design that remains in some classic games.

Unfortunately, the demo was short, considering that I enjoyed the atmosphere very much. I couldn’t see many of the “choice” elements of the game running, nor could I dive into the mana / magic side of the hero’s weapon. We did some basic level-ups and tackled some enemies that we still felt familiar with. a bit Unlike the source of inspiration, we saw a lot of pixelated gussets.

I can’t wait to see more.

Infernax will be released on Switch eShop on February 14th.