Zelda 2

There’s no denying that Infernax from Berzerk Studio is one of the best games of 2022 so far, which is insane when you consider that this month we also got the highly anticipated Elden Ring. Infernax is well-designed. It’s super charming. It has a nice level of challenge while being fundamentally rock solid. And it’s just fun as all hell! With that said, Berzerk’s awesome retro-like reminded me a bit of a game I played just days prior: Swords & Bones from developer SEEP.

Originally released last year, Swords & Bones just started making its rounds on Nintendo Switch in February 2022. And it’s really fun — for a lot of the reasons that Infernax is also really fun.

Swords & Bones

Like Infernax, Swords & Bones reminds me a lot of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. on the NES. It features fun yet simple hack-and-slash gameplay and light RPG elements. It’s nothing too deep, and it’s over after about two hours, but it hits a lot of the same enjoyable retro vibes as Infernax. Lone wolf hero? Check. Pixelated landscapes of death and destruction? Check. Skeletal enemies? Check.

Now, I’m not saying you have to pick one over the other — there’s plenty of room in my heart for both games — but rather, Infernax and Swords & Bones make something of a neat two-fer if you’re in the mood for some Zelda II-like goodness. Admittedly, if you have to make a choice for whatever reason, Infernax does win out, as its combat and RPG mechanics are much more fully realized and have much deeper sets of systems for you to play around with — and it even toys with Souls-like elements a bit.

Zelda II is often looked at as ugly duckling of the Zelda series. Though it has its fans, many detractors bemoan its unorthodox gameplay mechanics — where other entries in the franchise are all about action-adventure gameplay and exploration, Zelda II combines a weird overworld map with 2D platforming, stabby combat, and RPG elements. Interestingly, despite all the hate, Zelda II has inspired quite a few great games including Shovel Knight and Alwa’s Legacy — in addition to the previously mentioned Infernax and Swords & Bones, of course.

Infernax Boss Fight

These games do a great job of taking the best parts of Zelda II — the 2D action-adventure stuff — and building around those parts. Swords & Bones, for instance, plays quite smoothly, and it’s devoid of overly difficult or cheap obstacles. It might be too easy and even a little stripped back, but it plays very well. Meanwhile, Infernax feels like it could’ve been Zelda III had Nintendo made a direct sequel (in terms of gameplay) to The Adventure of Link. The combat, magic attacks, and platforming all feel like evolved variants of what we saw in Link’s second-ever quest.

At just two hours, Swords & Bones is a pretty short game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, especially if you take these games as a two-for-one. If that’s the case, you might want to start with Swords & Bones and lead into Infernax, which poses a much greater challenge. Alternatively, you could play through the highly challenging and rewarding adventure that Infernax has to offer and then reward yourself with Swords & Bones immediately as a sort of palate cleanser. Though rest assured, it may not be the hardest game, but it’s not exactly a chill game, either.

Just like how there are odd pairings that work surprisingly well together — like honey on spicy chicken or Eldest Souls and Haven Park — there are those that make absolute sense. If you’re into slashers, a Scream and Halloween double-feature hits perfectly (maybe while you munch on some buttery popcorn and M&Ms). Similarly, doing a two-game playthrough of Infernax and Swords & Bones back-to-back just works.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x