Review by joewill85

Reviewed: 02/16/10

The Only Way To Go To Hell (Travel In Style)

This game is a masterful rendition of Hell itself. It creates a morbid and detailed landscape and the developers clearly cared about the how the game looked as much as they did the story and the gameplay. This is especially integral for a game that is supposed to let the player travel to the one place no one would ever want to visit in reality. First I'll break down the visuals, secondly the story (sans spoilers), and lastly the gameplay.

Taking a player to a place that already has so many conceptions about it, and in this case even a vividly descriptive poem, is in actuality a greater challenge than making up a new world altogether. This is because each of us has our own conceptions that we check the "factually based" game against, and there are also guidelines set up by the poem itself. Under these conditions (and even without), I was blown away by not only the detail and realism of the scenes I witnessed, but of how the developers were able to use their creativity to stick to the poem and also make a world that appealed to the majority of players' general conceptions of what hell would be like. Until now I would never have said that I would absolutely not let a child play any M rated game, but this one absolutely broke the mold. Not only are the backgrounds horrendous(ly wonderful), but the story and even the monster designs are too mature for most pre-teens to handle and comprehend in the manner in which they were intended. The developers also used nudity to its full effect. We often don't think about it, but nudity, especially in situations outside our control, leaves us feeling vulnerable. The nudity in this game isn't there for its own sake, but to give an even greater sense of helplessness for those unfortunate enough to find themselves in this place.

Now for the story. There was a concise and mature storyline to complement the art style. No sappy romances to be found here. Dante came seeking redemption not only from God, but also from his lover Beatrice for the way his sins has affected her and their relationship. The game uses the poem to direct his journey through Hell, and calls on a very competent writing staff to fill in the personal details. I would like to make this section longer, but it is not possible without spoiling most of the story. Just like with the movie Jacob's Ladder, if you tell someone what it's about you've ruined the movie for them.

Last but not least, I tackle the gameplay. A review I read on here called it God of War meets Devil May Cry, which is an assessment I wholeheartedly disagree with in relation to the Devil May Cry part. While the God of War aspect is spot on in terms of level design and gameplay, I failed to notice any similarity to Devil May Cry. DMC's combo and combat system has always been very fluid by allowing players to move in and out of combos freely and to follow just about any move with any other move available to them. In opposition to this is the God of War series, which has very rigid and pre-designed combos that the player "commits to" when fighting. For instance, with GOW or Dante's Inferno there is a combo where the player presses Square 4 times. In both these games the final button in the combo is a "Finisher" move that is more powerful than the previous 3 hits and effectively ends that combo sequence. Even if I press Triangle for the last hit it'll be a different Finisher but the point is I'm still going to execute a Finisher. With DMC there are combo sequences that lead to Finishers but the combo can be abandoned at any point and the player can start in on a new series of attacks without having to "commit to the combo" as I call it. In short the gameplay and combat is almost a mirror image of GOW, but in no way reflective of DMC.

Now that we have that out of the way, I want to say that the combat in this game is great. The monsters are well balanced against the player's abilities. The only minor complaint I have about it is that the minions and unbaptized children are too easy to grab and absolve/punish. You can really break up the action and make combat far too easy by simply eliminating these "minor" enemies which are intended to harass you while you tackle the tougher monsters. That aside, I was impressed that the developers gave so much variety to the ways to attack with only two weapons. The relics in the game allow the player to really customize Dante to their style by enhancing his ranged attacks, scythe, magic, or even his defense to suit them.

This game has high replayability. It's not too long to discourage multiple replays, and not too short to make you regret shelling out the money. There are tons of collectibles, and it is literally impossible to max out your character in one playthrough so for the completionists there this game will make you come back at least once. Infernal difficulty is exactly as bad as it sounds and gets unlocked after one playthrough. If you thought Hellish was too easy, you may still meet your match with Infernal. An overall great game with just some minor and easily overlooked issues with the combat. Enjoy your time in Hell.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Dante's Inferno (Divine Edition) (US, 02/09/10)

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