IT FROM AMAZON: RIGHT HERE!
PLATFORM: Xbox 360
(reviewed), PS3, PC
ESRB RATING: M
DEVELOPER: Visceral Games
So Kratos is marching with the Titans towards Olympus, all ready to
smash the bejesus out of the place, when Zeus and crew- what? Oh, sorry,
Dante’s Inferno is the much-hyped and incredibly
well-marketed new game from Visceral Games, creators of Dead Space.
They’ve certainly taken to the new name of their studio, delivering us to a disturbing and incredible version of hell the likes of which we’ve never seen, yet seems oddly
familiar at the same time…
If you’re hoping for a decent translation of the poem stay far, far away
from this game. The game lacks any of the nuance and compelling themes
that made Dante Alighieri’s poem such a classic, one that managed to shape people’s ideas of hell for the rest of history.
Dante is not a weak-kneed poet who is guided through hell to see all
the horrible and unjust things that that can await one if they don’t
live a good life (and sometimes, even if they do). No, he’s a Templar, a
warrior who has fought in the Third Crusade and committed enough sins
to be sent to nearly every level of hell. He’s a badass antihero whose only
motivation for him is to find his woman Beatrice. While he
was away murdering people in the holy war she made some bizarre bet
with the Devil that Dante would be true to her, and of course he wasn’t,
banging a heathen woman in a moment of weakness (he’s had a lot of
those). He returns home to find her murdered, with the Devil pulling her soul away to hell to make her his bride. No, really. Dante fights and kills
Death himself to gain access to hell and its nine increasingly
disturbing levels of sin.
Along the way he gets some bizarre and
out-of-place powers to punish or absolve famous figures from history. It
doesn’t make sense that a guy with a cross could just walk into hell
and start absolving people out of their eternal torment but hey, this is
a videogame after all.
Absolving someone makes you play an atrocious minigame, so stick to
So yeah, literary fans will undoubtedly
find themselves in the fifth circle of hell when they find out what’s
been done here, but it’s a decent enough story for a stupid button masher, I suppose. There are definitely worse out there, and at least this
one gives you some fantastic environments to play around with.
This is the most shameless ripoff by a major studio that you’ve ever seen. If you’ve played God of War you already know how to play this
game. It offers absolutely nothing new (even some of the combos are the
same!), and the gameplay consists of you killing off every enemy that
spawns in a closed-off area until they’re all dead and the door opens, heading to the next area and doing it all over again. Once in a
while there’s a puzzle that requires box-pushing or hitting a lever or
switch, and then there’s a boss fight every level that always ends with a
QTE. Wash, rinse, repeat.
The combat is satisfying
button-mashing and it’s fun to watch the destruction you unleash upon
the demons, although like most games of the type you’ll eventually
settle on one combo that works great and just do it over and over again
to great success. But you’ll have fun with the game, even if the controls aren’t nearly as buttery smooth as Sony’s flagship franchise. This Dante’s a slippery little fella, and you’ll be falling to your death almost as much as you’ll be smashing buttons.
And smashing buttons you will be- you’ll yearn for a turbo function on your controller here, as even the most minute things require fast finger-play. Going to open a
crate? Mash a button. Want to open a door? Mash that button. Want to absolve or punish that soul? Get
ready to hit that button till your blistery fingers pop.
Dante fights with the
bendy spine-scythe of death and the cross-shooting cross from his dead girlfriend, giving him quite the range and a ton of
attacks and combos to unleash. By killing enemies you can gain souls
that allow you access to new abilities and moves (seems so familiar!),
and depending on whether you perform good or bad finishing moves you can choose
abilities that make your cross or scythe stronger, respectively.
The absolve/punish gameplay mechanic is just as stupid as I feared, only included in the game to give you a minor feeling of having input in this linear game and further hurt your fingers. On
top of all the new abilities Dante learns he can obtain magic powers as well, which almost seems redundant on
top of his special attacks and cross ability.
The visuals absolutely save the game (more on that later) but they could have certainly given us a few more enemies to fight. Each level generally gives you one new one that will pop up throughout the rest of the game. It doesn’t make sense to see the babies from Limbo appearing in wrath or the mouth-monsters from Gluttony crapping everywhere (seriously) in greed, but nothing else in the game really makes sense. Just wait till you see Cleopatra.
The amazing thing is that even though the
game’s completely redundant and repetitive it’s certainly fun, doing its thing well enough to keep you playing and guessing what horrors the next level will bring.
Then, you enter the eighth circle of hell, the one for the heretics, which is the most punishing and
singularly frustrating level of a game that you’ll ever be subjected to. You’re at the end of the game, you’ve fought off dozens upon dozens of similar creatures and what would be the icing on the cake? A series of ten difficult arena challenges that force you to fight more and more demons, of course!
Remember this sequence- X, Y, B (that’s square, triangle, circle for the
PS3)!. There, now just jam on those buttons in order and you won’t have to look at the screen to finish off
As you step into each arena a prompt pops up on screen (the same ones that taught you what button to use at the very beginning of the game!) that tells you what you should do- whether it be to stay in the air for eight seconds or perform a 100-hit combo. Why do you have to do this, when it certainly doesn’t relate to plot or sins at hand, and no character in the game tells you to? It’s an utterly shitty sequence, pulling you out of the mood completely and reminding you that you’re
playing a videogame. If you fail a challenge you have to restart it and try it again till you pass it and the door opens up.
The last challenge is a five-minute endurance test and it’s a pretty great
example of what the whole sequence is- a test of your endurance. It’s a
controller breaking sequence, one that has no place near the end of a
game, if at all. Since you open up an arena battle after beating the game what’s the point of including one in the campaign, where its presence does nothing but destroy the pace and pull you out
of the experience completely? It’s frustrating to the point
where you’ll want to pull the dvd out and light it on fire, and then
salt the remains.
The game lost a point for this
sequence alone, and the end of the game sort of tapers off to the
inevitable boss fight afterwards. Truly not what you want from a story that’s supposed to pile the horrors on till you can’t take it any more.
What saves the game and keeps you playing is the environments. They’re
absolutely stunning, disturbing and fascinating and making you feel like you’re truly visiting an ungodly place. While this Inferno doesn’t feel nearly as much of a literal descent into hell as
it should (despite some downward movement there’s never a real downward feeling to the game), each
level of hell is completely different than the last, and you’ll want to
keep playing to see what horrors the twisted imaginations of Wayne Barlowe and the dev
team have come up with. It’s also pretty nifty that you’ll almost never see a loading screen on this seamless ride, to say nothing of the incredible cinematics that advance the story.
CHUDTIP- The bosses are throwbacks to the games of old. Learn their patterns and you can easily take them down.
The soundtrack is just what you’d expect,
moody choir-driven stuff that screams of abandoned souls and eternal
torment. Perfectly cheery and bright! The constant screams and cries
from all the damned around you only add to the experience.
Despite your good or bad actions there’s only one ending, one that tells you all about the sequel
that’s likely in the works already. (SPOILER: Alighieri wrote two more books about the afterlife!)
Once you beat the game you’ll unlock a new costume and the option to go back and play through the game again to advance your skills even more. You can also play a series of arena challenges, something the DLC looks to add more of. They’re entertaining enough but after playing that miserable Heretic section the last thing you’ll want to do is fight more arena battles right away.
The one thing I wish this
game had more than anything? The option to select any level after you’ve beaten it. It
makes sense for a game where every circle of hell is completely different and
twisted in its own way, because you will undoubtedly want to show
certain sections off to friends. Make sure to keep a bunch of saves, I suppose.
CHUDTIP- Don’t bother fighting the flying beasts, just throw them for an instant kill. This works for the small demon grunts as well.
What circle of hell does Dante’s Inferno‘s copycat sin land it in?
It’s hard to recommend this game to PS3 owners since the real deal is on
its way, and with Bayonetta available it becomes doubly hard for any system. You will undoubtedly be entertained by the sights and sounds of the game, there’s no doubt of that, but
there’s just nothing as far as the gameplay that you haven’t experienced before.
It’s definitely worth a look for the disturbing characters and locations (and the disgusting world of Gluttony, possibly the strongest circle of them all) , but this game is hardly the paradise we were promised.
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