Developer Asmodev, along with publishers Ultimate Games S.A. and Art Games Studio S.A., present Infernal Radiation for review on the PC. Infernal Radiation seeks to take advantage of our sudden global interest in spreading disease both as its narrative direction and nod to plague games à la Pathologic. The player is led along a dark path via an unruly priest, engages in rhythm combat, and explores the surroundings to find power ups. Through their careful counter-volley of each assault, the player may cleanse the land of the demonic pestilence plaguing it.
Infernal Radiation is primarily a single-player experience with an option to unlock cooperative play early on. Players may split the keyboard or use gamepads to control exorcists. Exploration and combat take place in the same environment with the former transitioning smoothly into the latter when the player happens on an encounter. Those encounters are resolved by deflecting and firing energy spheres to deteriorate the opponent’s shield which allows the player permanently damage enemy health. Victory, as well as locating valuables during exploration, allows the player to level-up various attributes to increase their health or ability to deal damage. There are also a series of upgrades which may be purchased to add bonuses that activate throughout each encounter.
There are few things which cause my brain to go into red alert mode when starting a game. The crimson robe of the plague mask exorcist which greeted me on starting Infernal Radiation was not that alarm. But then I started the game proper, the flowing crimson robe of my player character was replaced with a puke green to deep black leather-ish outfit (depending on the light), and the alarm of inconsistency blared loudly.
Infernal Radiation is a rough experience no matter which way I choose to slice it. Since the aesthetics were the first to showcase their inconsistency, let’s start there. The vibrant model of the PC turned into a figure which could easily disappear into the background is the motif of just about every character. The models appear unique, but they suffer from the same poor lighting that the primary exorcist does, and what little detail I can discern from them is further lost by the endlessly bland and dark backdrops which comprise most of the game.
The aesthetic issues lead directly into frustration in guiding the gameplay. There’s another visual which, initially, seemed promising as there are bright comic book panels which illuminate the backgrounds to provide information. However, as the details around the panels change, the panels themselves do not. So the same information is present when the character first runs through them or when more details are added. This leads to another often occurring glitch where the panels, which are supposed to guide me, either failed to generate or generated before they were supposed to. I had one infuriating instance where the panels told me I had the strength to proceed when, in reality, there was a previous battle which seemed optional that held the upgrade I needed to move on.
Under normal gameplay circumstances I’d tap out but I had a review to write so onward I adventured. Getting to and finding these fights continued on a binary of “dull direct pathing” to “why am I stuck in this bush.” The dull pathing at least pointed me in the right direction more often than not so I was able to switch the brain off for a moment. The points in the environment where I got stuck, like while searching for items to turn into upgrade points, caused me to snap back to awareness that I was still playing Infernal Radiation as I had to reload to an earlier save point in order to proceed.
Proceeding meant wading through the dialogue, a task I found little joy in. Here’s “Carlos Seamen” to give an example:
This is barely above educational material for children. The only thing which makes it different is the escalation and emphasis on sickness. Otherwise I got the idea of dialogue like this when I read Everybody Poops as a kid. As an adult, reading so many variations on scatological musing from barely different voices using the same curse words repeatedly (shown in other dialogue from Infernal Radiation) is tiresome to the point of enraging. What makes it worse is the dialogue’s tendency to shift wildly from this level of scatology to vaguely respectful religious musing.
The briefest period of intrigue came during the third or fourth fight. Infernal Radiation‘s deflection-then-return combat centers around orbs flying in on a level field at first. This was boring but then made worse by the music which exists as a cruel dare to try and sync up the combat to. But then the balls started flying in from the fore and background at which I thought, albeit briefly, “Neat.”
Infernal Radiation was reviewed using a distributor-provided copy of the game on the PC through the Steam platform.
Exactly one instance of "neat" and the vague outlines of visually intriguing monsters does not make the rest of Infernal Radiation's hours bearable. Even the mildest praise I can muster for those two components might be obliterated if the brightness turned up only to reveal more rudimentary stitched-together figures. For now, I am content staying in the dark with frustrating memories of this experience ready to be buried deep within my subconscious. It's not worth therapy (I'm not prone to hyperbole), but the next time I stub my toe fumbling for a light switch in the dark I'll be closer to Infernal Radiation than I was playing it.
- For a few minutes, the fore and background combat showed enormous potential.
- God help you trying to find rhythm in the combat due to the barely there visual detail and music.
- Writing that only rises above, "poop pee haha excrement" when using basement level religious overtones.
- Onscreen prompts are often misleading, wrong, fail to generate, or appear in advance of when they should.
Do Not Resuscitate