Developer/s: Visceral Games
Platform/s: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 & PlayStation Portable
Genre: Action, adventure
Vintage: February 2010
Dante – a devout Christian crusader, must traverse the nine levels of Hell in order to save his beloved Beatrice and at the same time redeem his soul for past sins.
Graphics: 3/5 – Dante’s Inferno does not represent the pinnacle of video-game graphics as the character models aren’t the best that I’ve seen and tend to look a bit flat at times. Though the game is set in Hell for the most part, the developers have managed to do a fine job of representing the nine circles of Hell as each circle looks different from the last. The environments have some nice textures and lighting, setting the tone for the morbidly disturbing horrors that you will see throughout the game. It must be said however, that the prerendered FMV sequences were outstanding and it was nice to see the use of prerendering again in a modern game as most of the time developers
opt for using the in-game engine to render movies. In between the game and FMV, the use of a more traditional hand-drawn style of animation was incorporated for the flashback sequences which reminded me of the Spawn animated series. So while the environments look quite nice, I found the human characters to be somewhat lacking in the visual department. Thankfully, the myriad of gruesome creatures that you face in this game are animated quite nicely (good detail and textures) and make up for the short comings of the mediocre human character models.
Gameplay: 4/5 – This is the aspect of the game that has garnered much criticism. Dante’s Inferno plays exactly like God of War, when I purchased the God of War Ultimate Trilogy Edition (will review it soon) there was no learning curve because I knew all the controls already thanks to Dante’s Inferno (I never got to play the GOW games on the PS2). Even though the gameplay is a blatant rip-off – the controls are the same, the way you gain health and magic is identical, Dante’s scythe handles the same as Kratos’ chains and so on – this is what makes the game so fun, in traditional GOW style, controlling Dante is easy and fluidic and executing combos, magic attacks and QTE finishing moves is very satisfying. A feature I found to be quite nice is the Punish/Absolve play dynamic that the developers have incorporated, certain opponents can be grabbed giving you the option to either punish them by stabbing or ripping them apart or absolve them with your cross thus sending them to the heavens. Either choice will earn you experience points that will be allocated to unholy or holy allowing you to ‘purchase’ new abilities. At certain points you will encounter ‘famous’ characters of history such as Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and so on, these pleading souls will provide much experience so choose wisely before sending them on their way. Initially the unholy and holy experience levels are equal so it’s up to you in deciding whether you want Dante to focus more on unholy or holy abilities.
Characters: 4/5 – There is a strong storyline running throughout Dante’s Inferno, this is made possible thanks to the myriad of interesting people and creatures strewn throughout the game. As you traverse from one circle of Hell to the next, new and bizarre creatures (like guardians or old friends) make their presence known. From unbaptized babies, spirits and hellish she-demons to Lucifer himself, one can never be bored with the diverse denizens of the fiery pit of Hell. The FMV and animated sequences throughout the game strengthen the storyline with nice character development so much so that Dante’s Inferno is almost like playing an interactive movie.
Soundtrack: 3/5 – Dante’s Inferno is filled with morbidly creepy tunes that are for the most part overshadowed by the endless cries and moans of the countless damned souls trapped in Hell. Visceral Games have done an excellent job in ensuring that Dante’s Inferno not only looks the part, but sounds it too.
Lifespan: 4/5 – After playing through the game once, you’d probably be compelled to play though it once again in order to find missed items or perhaps to focus on a specific path (holy or unholy). The addition of downloadable content such as the Trials of St Lucia has added a map-editor as well as cooperative online play thus greatly extending the shelf life of this game.
Overall: 3/5 – Visceral Games/EA’s ‘God of War’ clone is an enjoyably disturbing and action-heavy title filled with satisfying amounts of carnage and hours of intense gameplay. Though there was initially speculation as to whether or not Dante’s Inferno would be the God of War 3 killer, it is indeed far from it and acts merely as a filler to keep players busy until the real champion emerges (and what a game it is!). Thankfully, Dante’s Inferno is a great game in its own right and should be played by anyone with a passing interest in kicking ass.