While Berzerk Studio are arguably best known for the musical bullet hell game Just Shapes & Beats, they’ve been working on a little game called Infernax (in addition to web games past and present) since at least 2015, when it was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter. After all this time, though, the ultra-violent, side-scrolling action-RPG ode to NES games finally has a release date. A date when it will be able to truly show off the demonic horrors and brutal challenges it has prepared for players. And that date is…Valentine’s Day. After all, what better gift for a loved one than seeing someone’s head get crushed in?
We had last checked in on Infernax during PAX South 2020, and found it to be “a loving and brutal take on a classic formula,” and having had a chance to revisit the demo for a quick preview, that still stands. But looking into it further, there seems to be something deeper at play here. When you kill a villager to prevent them from transforming into a monster, you literally get coated in their blood, and it it doesn’t seem to wash off until you pray at an altar (that serves as a save point), seemingly wishing to be absolved of all sin. One boss’ defeat sees you surrounded by the bloody corpses of NPC knights who assisted, and suddenly our hero Alcedor strikes a triumphant pose while “VILLAGE CLEARED!” appears in a classic retro font with triumphant music. When monsters stab other soldiers as you enter certain screens, seemingly being too late to save them, Alcedor doesn’t seem to think anything unusual about it.
Granted, a good chunk of this can be seen as just a humorous contrast between the ultra-violent action and the the more primitive NES-style graphics combined with what was considered kid-friendly gameplay back in the day, but considering that the plot involves the Crusades, with Alcedor returning home while the battles still rage, there seem to be themes of killing in the name of a higher power, justification for what one may consider necessary evils, glorification of war, desensitization, et cetera. Or it could be that we’re reading into things too much, but it still says a lot that Infernax already has us talking about its presentation and narrative on top of its solid action.
Of course, as seen in the release date trailer below, Infernax also promises to be deep in other ways when it comes to gameplay, with tons of hidden treasures to find, upgrades to earn, quests to undertake with a day/night cycle that alters things, choices that can lead to multiple endings, and more. But you won’t be discovering those without more than a few gruesome deaths, though, lovingly shown to you upon defeat. Infernax will come out for all major platforms on February 14 with the help of publishers The Arcade Crew, and it should hopefully be a bloody blast.