Influenced by the classic poem, The Divine Comedy, Dante’s Inferno takes players down into the depths of depths of despair in this tale of vengeance and redemption. This is not your typical va-ca in the sun, although things are heating up. Prepare for the fight of your life, as Dante explores the nine circles of hell.
Heading into 'Dante’s Inferno' I didn't know what to expect. All I have heard about Dante up to this point is that it is an action styled game in the vein of 'God of War', based of the source material of an old poem about a journey into hell. Well, that synopsis hits the nail right on the head; Dante’s Inferno is very similar to 'God of War', in a good way. Fans of the 'God of War' series will easily gravitate to Dante’s gameplay, as it borrows heavily from one of the most revered video-game series of all time. If you have to borrow from someone, it might as well be the best.
Even though Dante mirrors Kratos, Visceral has tried their best to innovative within the constraints of the source material. From the opening segments to the ending confrontation, Visceral did an amazing job re imagining this dark tale. The layers of hell that you will travel through are some of the most gruesome and brutal scenes seen in gaming. Even though Dante’s Inferno is raging mad with some of its ideas, it pulls them off with a sultry elegance that has its own unique swagger. It would be impossible to talk about Dante without mentioning the great attention to detail, the creative team did an extraordinary job with the characters and setting within Dante’s Inferno. At the very least, you will be wondering what is coming up next as you fall into the devils playground.
Before I get to the gameplay; let us examine the storyline of Dante’s Inferno. Dante’s Inferno should be an interactive ad for monogamy, because this is the source of the problem. In basics, Dante’s Inferno is a tale of a veteran of the Crusades, Dante, who cheats on his woman, Beatrice, damming her to hell. In hell, the devil takes an interest in Beatrice and uses her as a lure to bring Dante into his playground. Avenging his sins Dante fights the forces of evil in hopes to win back the heart of the woman he loves. The storyline is told via normal cut-scenes that usually involve bar breasts (yes, this one is rated M), or it is presented in an animated style, pulled straight from the 'Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic', an animated short on the game adaption. Dante’s Inferno is a small title, and EA has made every effort to impress to make sure Dante has the proper push to be a success. The rest is up to the gameplay.
Thank God... God of War, that is!
The gameplay is pure action slasher, with a few platforming and puzzle sets added into the mix. Really, everything is pulled right from 'God of War', and then twisted into its own perversion. Enemies are worlds big, boss battles can traverse several levels, leading up to an epic confrontation, and the hack n’ slash mentality is attached to everything moving object in the game. If it moves, kill it!
This has the player performing numerous combinations with his magical soul-reaping scythe. The scythe is acquired when Death tries to take your soul and you refuse the devils will. Death’s scythe is your primary weapon that can be upgraded during the game. Your second weapon is Beatrice’s Holy Cross that is used to shoot rays of light from its holy imagery to burn through the darkness. Adding to the combination attacks from the two weapons is the ability to use relics to boost your skills, these are found sprawled throughout the game, and you can use magical attacks that are also found during your travels.
Dante’s Inferno is always playing with the balance between good (holy) and evil (unholy). This balance can be shifted towards or away from the light, which affects your in-game abilities. The choice to ‘punish’ or ‘absolve’ your enemies souls arises during combat, which can be a little hectic in large battles. You can also punish or absolve damned souls which are hidden throughout each level. When you collect enough soul points, you can work on upgrading your skill in either section of holiness. There are seven levels on both sides to work towards with various skills unlocked to benefit the character. Most of them have cross-abilities like health or manna boosts. However, there are a few skills on both sides that are nice to have. Dante’s Inferno never punishes the player for picking either side, and if you want, you can play it right down the middle. Evil, Good, or Neutral, the story will not change depending on your alignment.
Move Quick, Strike Fast
The controls in Dante’s Inferno are not complicated to learn. The game does a good job at feel intuitive, although things can get a little clunky when trying to move faster than the character can react. Combination attacks consist of simple button presses, the shoulder buttons activate the magic, and the triggers to block and grapple enemies. The only odd control choice is the placement of a dodge maneuver, which is assigned to the right analog stick. The mechanics of evading the enemies is a little stiff, and the animation seems to come out of nowhere. Like blocking, and counter-attacking, the evade button will be very familiar to the player as large enemies require you to move quick, while waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
Dante also has several climbing and swinging sections that start out refreshing and turn quickly stale. By the sixth level in hell, you will be hoping for more combat, because some of the in-between rope-to-rope jumping can be tedious. Moving quick is key here, and that is done by using the bumpers to shuffle your way along. For the rest of the game, everything controls like you would expect, including more than a few quick-timed events, and button mashing door openings. For anyone who played allot of action games, you can put this on autopilot and head confidently into the abyss.
Nine! Nine! Nine!
In this journey, you will descend into the Nine Circles of Hell: Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery. Each circle has its own distinct inhabitants and challenges, filled with horrifying images that make even the hardened gamer flinch. Nothing is sacred in Dante’s Inferno as it deals with some heavy subjects. This one shouldn't be in the hands of a young gamers. Unlike God of War, which might be mature, mythological, and bloody, Dante is on a whole other level of disturbing. Without ruining too many of the surprises that await you in the nine circles, expect to come face-to-face with some epic boss battles and several disheveling monstrosities, which even includes facing your own father! Dante is one wild ride that earns the “M” that is stamped on the front of the box.
Mario had it Easy
Now for the issues, Dante’s Inferno can cut it a little close when it comes to the platforming aspects of the game. Timing is very important, down to every last second. Some of the jumps the game expects you to make are challenging and will have been replayed a few times before you get it just right. This is fine, except that Dante might be a little too unforgiving. Near the end of the game in the Violence level, I must has miss jumped ten times before I made my mark, and this is when I wasn’t under any demonic pressure.
Aside from the platforming parts of the game, other puzzles also revolve around a timed mechanic, which can be slightly frustrating. Common now Lucifer, can’t you give us a break? Besides these issues, Dante’s difficulty level hovers around a medium. All the enemies can all be dealt with by a series of blocks evades, and combo attacks, and the boss battles, although initially tricky, are fairly simple when figured out. With a little effort, you shouldn’t have any trouble completing Dante’s Inferno; the entire game lasts about 6 hours, 8 if you are really having trouble.
Dante’s Inferno is pure adrenaline, the type of game that makes you do a double take as you fight through the abominations of the screen. This adventure into Lucifer’s nine layers of hell is not for the weak a heart, or those who easily give up. In basics Dante's Inferno might only be a standard run, but it has its own unique challenges and dynamic atmosphere to keep you interested until the final confrontation at Lake Coeytus.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 02.15.10
Excellent source material
Epic design elements with a keen eye to detail
Nine layers of hell filled dynamically shifting gameplay
Horrific enemies and larger than life boss battles
Weapons and Magic have a good balance
Wonderful use of different media in the cut-scenes
A few extra “beast” sections to break up the gameplay
- Puzzles can be frustrating because of time issues
- Combination system is fairly shallow
- Storyline goes all over the map
- Hell’s nine layers could have used a little more distinction
- Enemies could used a little more variety in each level
- Game is short, 6-8hrs