Infernax Preview – A Welcome Return to 2D Castlevania

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By Chris Penwell on January 11th, 2022


The age of Castlevania has come back in recent years with games like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Shovel Knight, and Aeterna Noctis taking the spotlight that Konami once held. They may not have the name of the classic franchise, but oh man, they deliver like the old days. Infernax is keeping that trend forward with some stunning 8-bit inspired visuals, decent music, and inspired gameplay.

RetroWare was able to get a glimpse of the game before its official release, and so far, Infernax is delivering on that Castlevania-inspired wonder (or horror, depending on who you are). The world has an excellent 8-bit look as the game switches from day to night. A big moon lingers over you as you defeat the zombies in encroaching areas. This game looks like Castlevania. The personalities of the characters, the colorful stages, and the direness of the boss we encounter in the first 30 minutes of the game all bring that classic feel from the NES era. Your character is hit with the red and blue blood splattering of the enemies he faces, and the developers of the game add in other neat effects that utilize modern techniques to an old-school game.

Image via The Arcade Crew

Whip It Good

So far, the platforming and combat feel just like the NES Castlevania games. You strain your whip to take out foes ahead of you, and you can kneel to get quicker, lower shots. The platforming as well feels just like you remember it but perhaps even better with modern advances in game design and controller comfortableness. Every jump feels precise and brings that Castlevania flair. The combat is just as great, as you time your whip shots for maximum precision. There’s one enemy we hate, however, and that’s this furry monster that hops up and down. It can switch from your left to right perspective, making it difficult to take on multiple foes at once as they attack at multiple angles.

The one thing to keep an eye on is that you’ll have to drop down certain areas to proceed. You won’t know what’s below which is a blessing and a curse. The anticipation is a blessing, but the curse comes when you don’t know where you’ll land. You may lose some life force for no reason because you may come into contact with an enemy that’s below.

What I did find exciting, however, was a certain interaction you have early on in the game. There’s someone being turned into a monster, and you have to make the call to save him by killing the poor guy or letting him transform into a nasty early game boss. If you kill him, the main protagonist feels weary over what he has just done. If you let him transform into a monster, the road feels more righteous but certainly tougher as you face beast in the screenshot below. Hopefully, these decisions occur often and affect the general story of Infernax and the protagonist’s progression.

Regardless, Infernax is excellent for giving you that nostalgic 2D platformer feel. The developer Berzerk Studio absolutely nailed it and has elevated the game further with its visuals. The lightning in the clouds, the rain pouring down on the protagonist, and the dire atmospheric towns you visit all add to that 8-bit feel, while making it modern at the same time. The music, while not as catchy as the series Infernax is inspired by, also adds to the tension of the world as well as excitement to the battles you have to overcome.

More of the Same

Something that worries me is the enemy variety. So far, they have been relatively tame as they typically run straight towards you. Hopefully, Berzerk Studio changes it up as I’ve played the beginning 30 or so minutes of Infernax and nothing more. So far, the game uses the same, although exciting, boss twice in a row, but hopefully, the monsters change depending on the biome or environment you’re in.

Image via The Arcade Crew

Overall, Infernax gives an excellent first impression. It plays and feels like an old-school Castlevania but with its own twists like the decision making near the beginning of the demo and the power of magic at your disposal. The 8-bit atmosphere is charming and the music is just good enough to keep you going, but it will be interesting to see if Infernax keeps our interests for an entire playthrough. We can’t wait to take a bite out of this upcoming retro-inspired 2D platformer sometime in the first quarter of 2022.

Berzerk Studio and The Arcade Crew sent a preview code for coverage on RetroWare.

The British “Canadian” Chris Penwell has been a video game journalist since 2013 and has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University. He loves to play JRPGs and games with a narrative.


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