I Ain’t Afraid of No Cloak! …Okay, Maybe a Little.
Infernium is a survival horror game that claims to take a few inspirations from Pac-Man. While the idea of a developer taking some aspects from Pac-Man to design a horror game might sound absurd, it is what makes it unique and truly terrifying.
In the game, you play as an unknown protagonist (or antagonist) that is transported to a mysterious unknown world. You have only two things you can do, a short dash that works kinda like a teleport and the ability to collect balls of light to fill a nail on your finger. Throughout the game, you’ll encounter an assortment of enemies most of which you will have no method of defeating nor damaging. Thus, the only thing you can do is run away. However, simply running away is far more dangerous than it might seem. You’ll need a plan if you want to survive and advance through this bizarre world to understand the story about yourself and the world.
This game is definitely difficult as each and every action you make could leave you at a significant disadvantage in the long run. Every enemy you face will kill you in just one hit, but the world doesn’t reset just because you died. Thus any light you collected won’t reappear, and any doors that you opened will stay open and any barriers you broke will stay broken. This can prove to be both an advantage and a disadvantage as you won't have to recollect light to break barriers that create shortcuts, but doors that used to seal enemies would now stay open unless you go and close them again (if possible). So, you must always tread with caution for every action you take in order to minimize any possible risks you’d have to take to be successful. You only have a certain number of lives that can be used as you progress throughout the game. You can replenish your lives using light, but this could prevent you from progressing to certain areas. Once you lose all your lives, you enter a permadeath state in which you can either quit or use light to give yourself one last chance to complete the game.
One aspect that I give credit for is how it handles bringing in fear of the unknown to toy with you. The game is completely nonlinear and the only tutorial or guidance you are given is how to dash and collect light. Anything else is left for the player to experiment with and learn from there. This gives the perfect opportunity to completely meddle with the player’s emotions. It puts you in dimly lit dungeons with paths that are almost identical in design and leaves multiple enemies lying in wait to attack.This helps instill the idea that while you are in this world, you are never truly safe and there are enemies just lying in wait with the sole purpose of destroying you. This nonlinear aspect is a double-edged sword as some areas are quite vast and have no simple way for the player know what path they should take to progress through the game.
Overall, this game left me in shambles as I would feel a sense of extreme dread as I made progress throughout each world as I never fully knew what reaction any of my decisions could cause. However, it gave me a sense of relief and wonder when I would solve the puzzle given to me and continue forward to see what challenges awaited me next.