The poet goes all Medieval on the asses of the Hellish legions in this new Visceral Games title.
SquareGo made me journey into the belly of the beast to bring back this review.
Originality is a funny thing in video games. A good idea in one game is usually ‘borrowed’ by following titles in the genre. Dante’s Inferno takes this a step further than most games; having copied outright, not just an idea but the style, controls and even camera system from the hack and slash God of War franchise in a very unsubtle manner. So much so, it could be mistaken at a glance for God of War 3.
Those points aside, let’s move onto the game itself. Dante’s Inferno is based on the first, and arguably best, part of the 600 year old Christian Poem ‘La Divina Commedia‘ by Dante Alighieri‘. It’s a part political, part religious narrative travelogue through the kingdoms of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven; where Dante journeys to meet his late wife Beatrice. It may seems a curious choice for a game adaptation considering the poem is slow-paced, notoriously difficult to read and is filled with obscure references to 14th Century Florentine politicians and events.
Presumably this is why EA have made some heavy modifications to the concept to make it more palatable to modern audiences. Instead of an elderly renaissance poet, Dante has been re-imagined as a penitent crusader knight at the siege of Acre. After being killed, he defeats Death, steals his scythe and then travels home to find his wife murdered and her spirit in the groping clutches of Lucifer. Being now semi-undead he follows her shade into the underworld and is led by the ghost of Virgil through the nine circles of Hell, slowly uncovering the reasons behind her death and forgotten shadows of his own murky past.
Now naturally, this is Hell, so there are demons, souls, monsters and other horrible things waiting to make Dante into shish-kebab. So it’s a case of tearing your way through them with only Death’s Scythe, a crucifix that shoots out rays of Holy power and a few magic spells to help. The combat system, works fairly well, although it’s a case of learning by rote what attacks are best for each enemy and then cursing when the game cheaply throws relentless handfuls of them at the player instead of requiring any skilled combat.
There are however unlockable Holy and Unholy upgrades bought by either condemning or absolving the souls of damned enemies and some famous sinners you find wallowing in dark corners. Each of the nine circles (Lust, Limbo, Violence, Gluttony, Greed, Fraud, Heresy, Treachery and Anger) are uniquely different but all stunningly designed and rendered in horrific beauty as you travel from giant flesh towers and soaring iron cities to rivers of molten gold and boiling lakes of blood, whilst stepping over countless lamenting souls.
The look of Dante’s Inferno is easily its best asset; as such it seems ridiculous that you’re forced to endure an irritating fixed camera which not only stops you looking around but frequently hampers your ability to fight. The problem with Dante’s Inferno is that it’s literally trapped in a battle between good and bad. It’s both surprisingly faithful to the original text but also filled with clichés and bad plotting.
The God of War styles are all present but complete with all the inherent flaws and a few new ones. Even the music veers between stirring choral epics and Sci-fi B movie pennywhistle ditties. Ultimately, it’s a decent but average experience and will appeal to fans of the genre by filling the hole until the other mythology-based game that Dante’s Inferno was trying to be comes out later in the year.