Dante's Inferno Review
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Dante's Inferno offers little new to a genre dominated by franchises like God of War, yet it's graphical depiction of Hell helps create an interesting, and entertaining experience. As a game that took an awful lot of liberties with the original story, more liberties should have been taken with the gameplay to set it apart from its competitors.
- The brilliant visual depiction of Hell
- The holy vs. unholy leveling system
- The mature elements, both in the subject and presentation
- The lack of originality in the gameplay
- The repetitive combat that only feels challenging towards the end of the game
- The fact other games did what Dante's Inferno tried to do better
Fighting your way through an adaptation of what is widely considered one of the greatest works of world literature is uncharted territory for a videogame. So when it was announced Visceral Games and EA were working on a game based on the poem Dante's The Divine Comedy, it's easy to see why we were a bit skeptical that this particular medium would make for a compelling gameplay experience. After playing through Dante's Inferno, we are left feeling a bit indifferent towards the game, with its butchering of the classic story, its engrossing portrayal of Hell, its clear ripoff of God of War, and its fun, yet simple combat that, while repetitive, offers a lot of fun for fans of the good ol' hack 'n slash genre.
Right off the bat, we should get the story out of the way. If you were forced to read through a translation of The Divine Comedy in high school or college (or decided to do it for fun), then you'll quickly realize that Visceral Games took a lot of liberties with the narrative. You play as Dante, a crusader who, after growing weary of the ongoing war, returns to his lady in the Florence countryside. When he arrives to meet his fiancée Beatrice, he finds his home destroyed, and his love dead outside. Since the The Divine Comedy doesn't have much action, or a rime or reason for Dante's descent into Hell, it makes sense that Visceral needed a reason for Dante to venture there. It turns out Lucifer drags Beatrice into the depths of Hell, and Dante is tasked with venturing through the various layers of this perilous dimension to rescue her. We are not big poetry or literature buffs, but we fell in the category mentioned earlier about having to study The Divine Comedy in school – the game clearly has little to do with the actual story, and instead uses the imagery created in the book to create a devastatingly bleak and gruesome view of Hell.
All of this doesn't matter much as we know most gamers could care less how much a videogame stays true to the source subject. In fact, we don't really care that the story was changed so much. However, a change in the game's name, the character's name, or even taking a lighter approach to the game would have made a bit more sense. It's a minor point, and as previously stated, most gamers will not care about how close the story is to The Divine Comedy. Still, there are some similarities. For instance, the Italian poet Virgil is more or less Dante's guide through Hell, and provides as a sort of narrator in the game. You'll also run into several historical figures throughout the game that you can either punish or absolve (more on that later).
Dante's Inferno is an action game down to its core. You'll hack and slash away at swarms of enemies in a style befitting the God of War series. The game “borrows” an awful lot from games in its genre, like the recently released Darksiders and Bayonetta. Your arsenal includes weapons like the scythe and a holy cross, and various magic abilities. The double jump helps you perform aerial combos, which are easily pulled off by mashing the buttons. Your scythe is your short-range weapon that sweeps through demons with great ease. Your cross acts as your ranged weapon, which aims easily at enemies that are far away.
The game's currency comes in the form of souls. As you may have guessed, you can acquire these items when you kill enemies or find them in chests (sound like God of War?). Souls are used to upgrade your abilities and weapons. One of the few unique elements of Dante's Inferno rests in its soul collecting. You have the ability to make Dante fight for good or bad, light or dark. You'll do this by “judging” your enemies before you kill them. If you decide to punish them, you just kill them and gather Unholy points. If you want to fight for the light side, you can absolve your enemies and collect Holy points. You'll use Unholy and Holy points to advance Dante with various upgrades. Relics will also add points to whichever ... (continued on next page)
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