REVIEW: Infernax scratches a retro itch
WHAT AN IDEAL NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE. ⛈
Some video games are easily described as “love letters” to their source material. Infernax goes beyond this, and is closer to a “call to arms” for players who even remotely enjoy NES-inspired Metroidvanias, and more specifically, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Infernax is the modern realization of a violent exploration through oppressive towns, towers, and the countryside that connects them. This retro romp is as gory as it is difficult, expressive as it is opaque, and every bloody bit of fun it looks.
Infernax is rooted in tradition; a non-linear action RPG platformer, complete with crisp, crunchy pixels and a silent, testosterone-charged protagonist. As you journey from village to village, you’ll tackle a variety of sub-quests while striking down the occult who stand in-between you and your goals. Along the way, you’ll grow a collection of spells, armor, weapons and level-up bonuses to help even the odds. Where this title heavily deviates from its contemporaries is how the players moral choices impact the story and the world. Sidequests are rarely as one-dimensional as they appear when you accept them, and often reward players with entirely new areas to explore, bosses to fight, and even new equipment to carry. This eventually results in various optional endings and final bosses. I cannot recall any side-scrolling action game that leans this heavily into player choice, with a level of interactivity that makes the whole experience feel undeniably modern, despite the retro visuals.
GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon Review
Getsu Rogue-Like Then?
I was so excited by the reveal of GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, which came from a Nintendo Indie Showcase nearly a year ago. I loved seeing Konami breathe new life into a classic IP, especially since it was something beyond their usual compilation of classics. The original GetsuFumaDen is an early Famicom Disk System game released in 1987, and it remained mostly dormant until the Virtual Console releases on Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U. All of those releases were exclusive to Japan, until now. Included as a bonus in the “Digital Deluxe edition” of GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, Switch owners the world over can now see what the original game is all about.
For those who played it, the original GetsuFumaDen is remembered as something of an oddity to classic Castlevania fans, as it’s a similarly-themed game from the same developer. That said, it’s also a very forward-thinking mashup of genres. Throughout the adventure, you’ll enjoy top-down exploration, side-scrolling action, 3rd person behind-the-back labyrinths, and combat similar to Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!. Now the classic pioneer is back in the spotlight with GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, a new side-scrolling, roguelike action-platformer in the series.
While GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon’s gameplay is anything but unique in today’s gaming landscape, the art design is still wholly original. Immediately, you’ll notice eye-grabbing characters, enemies, and environments that use a striking combination of 3D cel-shading and watercolor painting to create a layered look. In screenshots, the game is absolutely beautiful. In motion, things are even more visually stunning, making it hard to peel your eyes away. This is GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon’s biggest strength and most blatant selling point. The dedication to the bold art style remains true through menus and the hub area as well, where you can find a handy bestiary that lets you fully appreciate those stellar enemy designs outside of combat.