We weren’t sure quite what to make of Infernium at first – it’s a non-linear first person survival horror that throws you into hell with minimal preparation. This is a vision of hell more about bleak, eerie landscapes and impressive vistas rather than your traditional fire 'n' brimstone DOOM-esque virtual world. The game scape is made up of almost 20 levels which are populated by castles, seas, walkways, and strange plant life – all interconnected to form a rather beautiful portrait of a place that normally gets a bad rap.
The world of Infernium might look good but it is no less a prison – it just doesn’t have you caged with bars. Your mission is the escape this penitence-inducing place armed with a glowing finger and not much else. This isn’t a Bloodborne battle-'em-up as you can’t kill hardly any of the enemies who stalk the land. So Infernium is more of a run-away-'em-up as most baddies will take you out with a single touch and once spotted they will methodically and relentlessly move towards you (albeit at a slow pace).
If wanting to stay alive, you’ll need to remember some good places to retreat to behind objects or doors that can block the faceless enemy’s path. You’ll need to be able to think on your feet as well because it’s easy to trigger additional enemies while fleeing from one and so your initial escape route may suddenly no longer be viable. You’ll certainly die a lot and learn along the way to improvise due to trial and error: misjudging the height of a drop, getting caught by an enemy, or falling foul of a trap will transport you to an inner grotto where you can see an initial 25 white lights. These are your lives and the penalty for using them all up is permadeath. It’s a nice dynamic to be able to see how fragile your existence is and will make you value every life as they start to be eaten up – leading to an anxiety of premature game over.
The good news is that when you die, there is a chance you can reclaim the life light by retracing your steps to the scene of your demise. It’s a risk/reward payoff, though, because if you were taken out by an enemy, chances are that it will be there waiting to kill you again and if you die before you reclaim the light energy it’s gone for good.
There is a constant pressure to find the next checkpoint (annoyingly far spaced out) or portal to the next level, and the links between them can take some fathoming out – the glowing finger you wield can charge up arcane symbols or drain energy from sources – which leads to some average problem solving challenges.
The biggest problem with Infernium is that it just isn’t very scary, especially for a game billed as a horror. In fact, it gets dull very quickly and tiresome soon after. The developers haven’t helped by having some very wonky control issues such as a frustrating dash mechanic which is very tricky to get right and will often lead to using up a precious life due to it just not working in time. Then there are the loading screens which will make dying far more painful than it should be – and can actually kill your desire to progress.
If trudging around a nice-looking hell is what you’re after then there may be a little merit in investing in Infernium, but for anyone after a decent gaming experience – be it horror, puzzle, or walking simulator – then this just doesn’t cut it.