Dante's Inferno review
Walk with me in hell


The Introduction:
We all love God Of War. Don’t lie. I know you did. It seems as if the developers of Dante’s Inferno did, too, because Dante’s Inferno plays so similar to God Of War, that barely anything separate the two. There are some differences, like the choice of weapon and the overtly religious themes, but it just plays like it. However, it doesn’t FEEL like God Of War. In a sense, it feels like an inferior rip off that isn’t worth playing.

The Story:
Dante, one of the knights serving an overtly Christian army, has to go directly to hell in order to save his girlfriend, Beatrice, from the devil. Throughout the course of the game, Dante faces the sins that he's gathered over the course of his war-filled life through the different circles of Hell. Fortunately, the story does a surprisingly good job of drawing out the evil that Dante has built up in his soul, while also showing his path to redemption. It's a unique concurrence, often blurring the line between good and evil in the human soul. What does make the story a bit ridiculous is the gratuitous nudity, which seems to be in the game for shock value alone. Considering that, it's blatantly obvious that Dante's Inferno aims to shock the player, and while there are times that it goes a bit too far (like the Glutton enemies' excrement-based attacks), Dante's Inferno really does do a good job in offering a mature and dramatic story that is well worth exploring.

The Graphics:
The minute you enter hell, it feels like you really entered it. The design of hell is, to put it bluntly, hellish, as if the art directors have just came back from a vacation in hell, and the little bits and pieces manage to fit the theme of each of the circles very well. From the cold, purple, and highly sexual Lust circle, to the clockwork nightmare of Greed, to the gloomy Wood of the Suicide, all of them have tons of personality, and it's here the graphics shine. The other bits and pieces of the graphics are also good, with some nice texture work, some nice looking character models – especially the menacing enemy designs - and some pretty good looking animated cutscenes. The animated cutscenes make for a nice change of pace in comparison to the intense boosts in graphical prowess that most games do (ie. Final Fantasy 7-13). Amongst that, they look fantastic and fairly detailed. Your eyes will love this game.

The Sound:
The soundtrack switches between a dreary tone and a grandiose epic tune to accompany the right moments. However, it doesn’t really come across as an awesome soundtrack. It just feels like filler material from an album with a few excellent tracks. I understand that people enjoy the soundtrack for what it’s worth, but I never got into it. It sounds like everything I’ve heard in other games, from God Of War to Darksiders, but not quite on par, and nothing I’d put onto my music player. Never really clicked, if you know what I mean. The voice acting is the same – sounds good enough and believable, given the circumstances and whatnot, but never really clicked.

The Gameplay:
Throughout Dante’s Inferno, you’ll be tearing up monsters with your scythe and projectile crosses. One could complain about the tanky cannon fodder, but it doesn’t seem to bother me too much, because it’s so much fun eviscerating your enemies. The controls are fluid, so combat can keep up with even the most epileptic of thumbs.

An interesting element has to be the ability to either save the damned, or destroy them completely, to keep with the religious theme the story and Dante’s mid section provides. As you save or kill your enemies, you can gain either Holy or Unholy points, which can add to certain skills, such as combos and magic attacks. This seems rather interesting, though in the end, you end up getting all of the skills towards the end, though it’s nice to think “should I go for power or increase my vitality” while you’re going through the game.

The bosses are excellent, possibly the best things about the game. Each fight definitely has a God Of War vibe to them, with the bosses being massive in scale, and the finishing blows executed through quick time events, which are done through some button presses/mashing on an on screen button. They are menacing, intimidating, and everything else that a boss can be, possibly except for challenging. They’re a little easy. But that’s not bad when the actual fights are excruciatingly fun!

Excellent, it sounds like a winning formula, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the rest of the game suffers either from severe half heartedness, or poor execution. The first of these sins is every single platforming segment segwayed into the game. The controls are fine and each platforming segment seems rudimentary. Unfortunately, the camera angles are horrific. The camera tends to point away from a vital position, meaning that there will be a lot of trial and error involved. Not the good kind, per se – you know; the kind where you have to get better. It’s the kind where you just keep going until you actually get it right, and get pissed off while getting it wrong. The other real problem is that there is a lack of camera control – you better like what angles you’re presented with, because you’re dealing with it and only it.

When you're not platforming or hacking and slashing, you're solving puzzles, which are shovelled into each level. Now, they could’ve been very creative with this one. Unfortunately, the puzzles, ranging from pulling and pushing blocks, to hitting switches, are about as interesting as watching an amateur game of chess. They are all extraordinarily easy, so it begs the question – why? To artificially extend the length of the game? From what I can gather, it’s to give some “variety” so that it doesn’t seem “repetitive”, which I find hilarious, because Dante’s Inferno feels really repetitive towards the end, and this is due to poor pacing.

Thought the fact that the designs get less and less interesting was the only thing to make the pacing suffer? Think again. Everything you do here, aside from the sparse amounts of boss battles, gets old. One could argue that Darksiders does as well, but that game never makes you feel like you’re doing the exact same thing over and over again, unlike Dante’s Inferno, where it feels like you’re going through the same few levels over and over again with more drab designs than the last, like you’re just going through the motions. Really, I just couldn’t dig the game.

The Stats:
Story: It manages to show us that everybody has a bit of evil inside of them, no matter how devoted we may be to the teachings of God. There is use of shocking imagery, most to move the story along, and some just to shock you. It’s all good stuff, though. 4.5/5
Graphics: It’s no mistake that the game looks amazing. It boasts an excellent art style and amazing technical prowess, with many textures and some cool looking enemy designs, though the boss designs steal the show. The animated cutscenes also look nice. Overall, excellent graphics. 5/5
Sound: Mediocrity at it’s finest. The music often sets the right mood, and the voice acting is tolerable at the best of times. Nothing special. 2.5/5
Gameplay: I find it strange that with what it tries to be, it fails to capture the spirit of God Of War. Combat is fun enough, you kill a bunch of monsters, and the boss battles were epic. However, the puzzles were monotonous at best, platforming is a test of trial and error due to usually terrible camera angles, and the overall pacing felt lazy, with the designs feeling less and less inventive, which makes the overall game feel more and more boring as it went. 5/10

The Conclusion:
Dante’s Inferno is a competently designed game; that is, if you don’t mind annoying camera angles and monotonous puzzles and platforming segments. Bayonetta had moments of “blah” quality gameplay, but Dante’s Inferno goes WAY too far with it, ultimately dragging down all but the first third of the game. In fact, the first third of the game is the only time you’ll really enjoy this game. The bosses are the only good things about the other two thirds, but other than that, there is no reason to purchase Dante’s Inferno. Go get God Of War 3 (or Darksiders if you lack a PS3) instead for your visceral combat fix.

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