Dante’s Inferno (PS3)

Dante's Inferno PS3 box
7 Overall Score
Graphics: 7/10
Mechanics: 7/10
Story: 7/10

Fun

Hell fatigue

Game Info

GAME NAME: Dante’s Inferno

DEVELOPER(S): Visceral Games

PUBLISHER(S): Electronic Arts

PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, PS3, PSP

GENRE(S): Hack and slash, action adventure

RELEASE DATE(S): February 9, 2010

 

¬†Depending on who you talk to Dante’s Inferno (developed by Visceral Games and Published by EA) is either a God of War rip-off or a foray into new scenery with some very familiar mechanics. After one play-through, I would have to say that the game is indeed fun and it was very interesting to see the God of War controls and game mechanics in a new setting. There were some drawbacks to the game, but on the whole, I had a pretty good time playing and I’m interested in seeing what Visceral Games does next.

The basis of Dante’s Inferno is, well, Dante’s Inferno; the first cantica in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy wherein he takes a tour, guided by the poet Virgil, through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. It probably comes as no surprise that the video game takes the concept of poetic license a bit far, but it’s still interesting. The Dante in the video game is a crusader who took part in the 1191 siege of Acre that culminated in King Richard’s execution of some 3,000 Muslim prisoners. The video game’s main character took part in some of this and Visceral seems to have taken a bit of license with the events of the siege, but suffice it to say, our protagonist gets stabbed in the back, quite literally, and soon finds himself on the way to hell. The twist comes in when Dante finds out that his beloved Beatrice has been taken captive by Satan and whisked off to Hell to be his bride. Everything in the story line pretty much flows from Dante’s one-man crusade to rescue her.

Dante

The gameplay and mechanics in Dante’s Inferno follow that established by Sony’s God of War franchise almost to the letter. There are some differences and some innovations worth noting though. First, Dante’s main weapon is nothing less than Death’s Scythe, which Dante acquires almost as soon as the game starts. It has some interesting new moves, but the scythe still behaves remarkable like Kratos’ own primary weapons, the Blades of Chaos. Second, Dante has an innate ranged attack a la Beatrice’s big honking crucifix – and I must say, it is quite entertaining blasting crosses at flying enemies that you otherwise just wouldn’t be able to reach. The last innovation would have to be Dante’s Holy and Unholy powers. When Dante weakens an enemy he can scoop them up with his scythe and then choose to condemn or redeem the impaled baddie. Condemning a soul results in Unholy points, redeeming them results in Holy points. Both skill trees offer upgrades and combos that make Dante more powerful, just in different ways. But even with all that, it still feels like God of War.

Dante with scythe

The sound and graphics are both very good, but more than one I found myself getting what I like to call “Hell fatigue”. This game is dark, the set pieces and environments are, at points, huge, and the damned, well, they moan and scream a lot. All of this can wear on a player’s nerves. Playing for some 7-8 hours in Visceral’s rendering of Hell can wear a soul out. Then there are the plot elements of the story that involve Dante’s family. The story isn’t so much a tragedy in the classical sense as it is just plain old depressing. I won’t spoil the story for those that haven’t played, but the whole game, from top to bottom is pretty damned dark. And more than once I wish the soundtrack would have included Bill Withers’ classic Ain’t No Sunshine (from game’s TV ads) just to hear something other than the screaming of damned souls. And I’ve got to mention the boobies. There are more boob shots in the first half of this game than I have ever seen in any other video game. Ever. And that wouldn’t be so bad except that most of the boob shots that you see are of Beatrice and she’s dead. Pasty white undead boobies with blue veins are not my favorite.

Dante with cross

In the final analysis, I can’t help but come back to a few major points. One, Dante’s Inferno is fun, even if it is a God of War clone. I still don’t think it’s on the same level as God of War, but then few games are. Two, this game is dark. Dark and meant for adult gamers, hence the Mature rating from the ESRB. And three, with God of War, Dante’s Inferno, and Darksiders, what are we going to call this new genre of video games if this trend continues? Still, all told, I had fun and I am glad I took the time to play through this game. It’s a good fix for your God of War cravings until it’s release in mid-March. I give Dante’s Inferno a 7 out of 10 (maybe a 7.5) and I recommend that you try the demo or rent the game just to give it a look, but do give it a try. It’s got moderate replay value (you can play through with all your upgrades) and it’ll get you thinking. Maybe we should all go back and read the Divine Comedy again anyway.

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Author: Michael Bartok View all posts by

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