Its a frenzied combative game that has great set peices and well designed quick time events, some involving big controllable beasts
Really weird game and possibly too weird for many. It's a very close resemblance to God of War and suffers a bit from the comparison.
|The Verdict||Because of the surreal nature I found it hard to get into the game. It was intriguing in parts but lost a bit of momentum along the journey. The good bits shine through but so do its flaws. If you are an avid God of War fan you may like this or you may not...|
When you design a game around a classic piece of fourteenth century literature that is considered by many scholars to be one of the finest examples of medieval Christian allegory examining how the world then saw the effect of sin on the soul I think it is important that accuracy and proper deference to Dante’s epic visionary work be given prominence…
Or we can just kill things!
The real Dante’s Inferno is part of a poem called The Divine Comedy and written by Dante between 1308 and 1320. It deals with Dante descending into Hell guided by the poet Virgil at first and then a woman called Beatrice who he loved but only from a far. And that is pretty much where any resemblance the game has to the poem ends.
In the game there is Dante, a medieval crusader, who descends into hell meets the poet Virgil who comments every now and then describing the levels you are about to face and plays the odd critical role deeper into the game. Beatrice appears as his wife and lover, she’s quite often semi naked, who’s soul is been taken by Lucifer after she is brutally murdered. The game is centered around the fact that Dante descends into Hell to rescue Beatrice. So with that tenuous grip on the original story the game begins.
Now there is no way around the next statement about Dante’s Inferno so I might as well get it out at the beginning of this. Dante’s Inferno is a God of War clone. There I said and wrote it and I’m not sorry. Let me say that this comparison is not a bad thing for the most part. The combat is similar, read almost the same, a third person view of hack ‘n slash combined with a bit of magic. The leveling up is similar too in structure and style…substance, to be honest I didn’t put the God of War disc in the appropriate console to compare but let me say this Dante’s Inferno reminds me at every turn of God of War.
If the game does suffer in the comparison to God of War at all it’s in the story to be frank and the elements that make up the story, this maybe because Dante’s story is not as widely known as Greek mythology. Where as the aforementioned other title is a vicious visceral game, Dante’s Inferno is well a bit weirdly macabre and uncomfortable and sometimes bordering on the ridiculous.
Case in point is the Lust level of Hell where you are confronted with a giant moaning, gyrating and bare breasted Cleopatra who sends mutant toddlers out of her nipples, armed with sickles where their forearms should be. And yes I said nipples. And I haven’t even mentioned the nude demon women with phallic styled tentacles growing out of their groins which they wield as a weapon – to defeat this attack you naturally have to grab hold of said tentacle and spin around to hurl it to its demise, I’m not kidding I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
Enough of the comparisons though, except to say Dante is a much more appealing anti hero than Kratos from God of War, he has a bit more grace about him and is an eminently more likable albeit a similarly flawed character. The strength of this game then is in the set pieces chock full of QTEs – quick time events – which are truly epic and occur in multiple series that also include analog stick movement. The death scenes concluding the QTEs are bloody and involve vulgar parting of limbs or splitting of bodies longitudely that’s vertically from head to groin.
The QTEs also come into play with controlling some rather large monstrosities by a well scripted use of the Death’s Scythe, your main weapon, into the skull of the beasts. They are rather large and breathe fire some of them and stomp and punch. Your other main weapon is your range holy cross weapon that fires multiple white crosses at anything you aim at…it’s pretty cool.
This then nicely segues into the ‘punish’ and ‘absolve’ part, which is really the currency of the game. When you dispatch many of the demons and damned souls you can choose to ‘punish’ or ‘absolve’ them, whatever your choice you build up points either holy or unholy which allows you to purchase upgrades and gain experience. The absolve choice takes you to a mini game of collecting souls depending how quick you are in pushing buttons, the punish choice just leads to evisceration.
You will need all the upgrades and powers your combat victories will provide you to battle through the levels or circles of hell. Some enemies need to be dealt with by holy weapons others by the unholy ones. The combat does lose a little momentum as you progress through the game but it is frantic and frenzied at times and brutal did I impress upon everyone previously of it’s brutality? My favourite circles of hell to play through were probably Greed and Limbo, the death scene of the King Minos boss in Limbo is well designed and memorable. While Greed has some excellent platforming aspects to it as Dante battles his father.
The AI, especially the enemy AI, later in the game is quite clever in that it regularly has little fiery imps sneak up from behind whilst being attacked by the clumsy but large creatures in the front. Although the boss levels after an encouraging start fall away in difficulty until closer to the end of the game where they make a comeback.
Environmental puzzles abound and some of the more physical ones that involve multiple switches and moving parts are quite challenging although why there are switches in and complex machines in a medieval version of hell is beyond me. The art of the game goes from the lush and the grand to body waste in the Gluttony circle of hell. And what I mean by that is golden pools or lakes with damned souls drowning in…well…effluent.
So it’s a strangely weird and ghoulish game with some moments of breath taking set scenes and well designed QTEs. It is an odd mixture of the divine and the grotesque and in some respects defies the action adventure genre because it’s so arty and surreal. With combat that goes from excellent to the monotonous from the dynamic to the button mashing in the end it’s a game that will enthrall and appall in pretty much equal parts.