Review by Bkstunt_31
Shouldn't you be working on Dead Space 2, Visceral?
Ah, Dante's Inferno, inspired by the Divine Comedy, a book I did NOT have to read in high school. Not quite sure if that's a bad thing or a good thing, though, as I knew it had a part (Inferno) where Dante travels through the nine circles of hell, and anything where you have to travel through hell must be a good thing. Visceral Games thought so too, and so now we have Dante's Inferno. Of course, certain liberties were taken from the source material to make the game actually interesting AND playable, because if you're expecting anything like the book, your bound to be disappointed. So, how did the do on Dante's Inferno? Is this game worth your time or should they have stuck with making Dead Space 2?
We're introduced to Dante in a rather spectacular fashion, as he is in the middle of the forest sewing what appears to be some sort of cloth to his chest. We than watch as the cloth plays out the game's back-story in an animated fashion (which kind-of reminds me of Heavy Metal's art style). Dante was part of the crusades, and during the crusades did a number of horrible things, all of which are played out on the cloth sewn to his chest. While he was there, he was stabbed from behind and was than confronted by Death and sentenced to Hell. Dante fights against Death though, since he had been promised by a bishop that by fighting to reclaim the holy lands, he would be forgiven of all of his sins and guaranteed a place in Heaven.
Well, somehow Dante defeats Death and gains his scythe, than proceeds to head home to find his father and betrothed, Beatrice, dead. We than sees Lucifer with Beatrice, taunting him about Beatrice belonging to him. Dante than goes into a nearby church to bless a cross that Beatrice gave to him (giving you a ranged weapon) and a giant fissure appears, leading down to Hell itself. Here you meet Vergil in spirit form, who will guide you through the circles of Hell as you pursue Beatrice.
The story has it's highs and lows, but mostly highs. You'll find yourself wondering how Dante could do such things when he seems like such a level-headed individual now. I guess war really did a number on his psyche. The main story arc is fairly interesting, as you get to see what exactly Dante did, as well as all the various levels of Hell and who resides there, as well as what you have to do to get there. Interesting stuff. Vergil will also provide narratives of each circle. You'll also meet historical individuals in certain circles of hell along with a quick text of why they are there. Also, make sure to die a few dozen times so you can see the cool little quotes out of the poem, which add a nice touch.
Game play: 9/10
After liberating Death of his scythe, it will become Dante's primary weapon. You have quick and strong attacks with the scythe, as well as your cross attack, which as I said earlier is your ranged option as using it shoots out several crosses. You'll gain experience as you kill enemies and can go into the main menu and acquire new skills and abilities. But perhaps the most interesting part of the game (in my opinion) is the fact that you can choose to punish or absolve certain enemies. You can do this when you put enough damage on them, leading to a unique grab-attack when you can choose to punish or absolve them. After you made your choice, you'll get either red (punish) or blue (absolve) orbs which well level up your Un-Holy and Holy paths respectively. Each new level you obtain on those paths give you access to new abilities.
You'll also have to choose to punish or absolve those historical individuals that you'll come across. Funnily enough, punishing enemies is usually quick and easy while absolving them often involves a series of annoying button mashing or, in the case of the lost souls, a "sin-catching" mini-game. Button mashing is ok on exceptionally big enemies and epic bosses, but not for every single enemy you want to absolve!
You will also find a bevy of accessories, or relics, that you can equip. Each of them provide different bonuses that you can take advantage of. Many of them also level up after a certain amount of orbs, making their bonuses even better. The last combat related note is that you'll eventually gain several different types of magic that you can use (along with a nifty magic meter). The combat feels good, especially when you start getting better attack moves on the Un-Holy path, and Dante has some nice flair at the end of his strong attack series.
The game also has some plat-forming elements to it as well, with quite a bit of wall-climbing (inspired by God of War) and the occasional lever puzzle. Honestly everything in the game is fun, minus the annoying button mashing required at times. You'll only ever be able to fully level up one path as well. The plat-forming is pretty light, and the real fun is acquiring experience and trying out new moves as well as leveling up and trying out new relics. I had fun, though, the game does a good job of pushing you onward with the promise of new moves and relics, and you know you want to see what the next circle of Hell looks like.
It was interesting to see how they depicted Hell, for sure. There are a few instances where you really feel they did a good job, like Charon's boat and everyone going into it, or where you're descending a column of the dead only to have the camera pan up and show brimstone falling down. Then there are less stellar parts, like low-resolution 2-D walls with screaming faces that are reused (color's changed) later on in another circle of Hell. Or the fact that they have one demon creature and give him multiple weapons, and later wings, to add some variety in the enemies, but without putting any variety in the graphics. I would've liked to see more SPECIFIC instances of sinners being punished in hell, though, as it would have made things more interesting graphically.
I did like Dante's design though, and the various enemy designs that were actually based on different sins were interesting. The level designs were good for the most part, but there was one instance deeper into the game where you are doing a bunch of trials that they essentially reuse the same short hallway and arena over and over, at least half a dozen times in a row (Fraud). The historical figures all look the same as well, with almost no attempt to give them their own distinctive features. Most disappointing. Overall the graphics are ok and do their job, and there are good things to be had here such as the animated interludes and the specific monsters designed around specific sins, but there's several instances of sub-par quality and quite a bit or repetitiveness that drive it down.
The game mainly has atmospheric music playing throughout, and seems to withhold any memorable tunes. The things I remember the most are Dante and Lucifer's voice actors (who were fantastic) and the various sound effects. Especially from the circle of Lust! To be honest, the screams of pain didn't sound real enough for my taste and could have had some more emotion put it. Shouldn't these actors make us believe that their being tortured? I enjoyed the dialog throughout the game the most. Even if the screams aren't quite believable, overall the audio is good.
The game is decently long, and will probably last you a few good afternoons. Once the game is beaten you can also go through it again to try and find any relics or Judas coins that you may have missed, as well as finish off leveling both Holy and Un-Holy paths since you definitely can't max them out the first time through. There's also some DLC to check out, the trials of St. Lucia, which contains a game-editor where you can create your own content and share with friends, which is neat.
Overall, Dante's Inferno is worth playing through and is fun. I suppose I can excuse Visceral for not pushing out Dead Space 2 asap, as I had fun playing through Dante's Inferno. High points include Holy and Un-Holy experience paths, combat progression, and relics. Low points include repetitive low-resolution graphics and far too much button-mashing. It's rather cheap nowadays, too. Have fun and keep playing!
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Dante's Inferno (Divine Edition) (US, 02/09/10)
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