Dark Souls Jr. Hits Steam Early Access
First you die, then your adventure begins. Focusing on survival exploration and a hefty does of action RPG elements, Inferno Climber is already showing great potential. Arc System Works put up an Early Access version of the game on Steam and (after a few issues) I got to take it for a spin. Here’s how it went.
Inferno Climber was planned to be a PS4 title when it was announced at 2014’s Tokyo Game Show, but was later changed to a PC exclusive. Good news for PC gamers, except that by then gameplay had mostly been designed for use with a controller, not a keyboard. Unfortunately, some of the controls did not react well to being ported to PC.
On my first attempt, I just shrugged off the game’s recommendation to use a controller. I’m a hardened PC gamer, I can use a mouse and a keyboard for any game. Except when I tried to take a look at the key bindings, the options menu wouldn’t respond to the keyboard. Once I got in the game things only got worse, as the mouse wasn’t locked so I kept clicking out of the game on my second monitor.
At this point I decided to take Inferno Climber’s advice and try with a controller, but even that was met with problems. My Xbox360 for Windows controller only passably worked in the game. LT and RT only worked occasionally and the cross button seemed broken. Needless to say this made gameplay ridiculously frustrating. I wasn’t able to use anything in my inventory or equip items.
I took a break and made sure I had the most up-to-date version, since Arc has released several updates, including one designed to fix controller issues. The version was good, but the problems remained. Finally I gave up on the controller altogether and went back to the keyboard (sans mouse). I was able to puzzle out which keys would allow me to equip and use items, so I was able to play, just not in the most effective way. It’s frustrating that a PC only release would be so difficult to play without resorting to using a controller. Especially when the controller might not integrate correctly. Hopefully this will be sorted out before the final release.
Control issues aside, the game has all the making of a fun quest title. After you are immediately slain by the Dragon Lord you meet with Death. He tells you that the five purgatory stones must be collected and has you sign a contract allowing you to return to life to fulfill this purpose.
Once that’s out of the way, you get to explore the starting area. Here you are introduced to the game’s mechanics; fighting, eating, platforming, and puzzle solving. The art style has the appeal of an old school PlayStation title, beefed up for current gen processors. The characters are cartoony, but not in a zany, over-the-top way that would distract.
This is the first Early Access version, with an estimated 8 to 10 hours of gameplay spanning across 3 of the main areas. Additional Early Access versions will be rolled out through content updates. The full version is expected to take roughly 40 to 50 hours to complete the first time.
Once you get the controls down, the hack and slash combat is great fun. The enemies will hit hard though and recovering from those hits can sometimes feel like a death sentence. Good thing your buddy Death is ready to resurrect you, or one of the seven other character archetypes at your disposal. Each with their own unique strengths and abilities.
I’ve always been a little intimidated by the infamy surround just how difficult Dark Souls was, but Inferno Climber takes a lot of the same ideas (and story line) while making them feel more accessible. It’s still a challenge, but not one that will make you want to give up on gaming altogether.
You can pick up the Early Access version of Inferno Climber on Steam now for $19.99. This is a special price during Early Access and may increase as more content is added through updates. The price will increase for the official release.