As I’m sure most of you will be aware, Dante’s Inferno is a game based on the first part of The Divine Comedy written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and 1321. In particular, this game is ‘loosely’ based on the Inferno section of the poem (Inferno meaning Hell in Italian) and follows Dante’s journey through the nine circles of hell guided by the Roman poet Virgil.
This is essentially where the similarities with the game ends, with the exception of some of the characters you meet along the way (souls and boss fights, specifically). For the journey made by Dante in the game is a bid to rescue the soul of his beloved Beatrice from Lucifer’s clutches, largely, in part, due to Dante breaking his promise to Beatrice that he would be faithful to her whilst on the crusade.
When he returns home after the crusades, he finds his father-in-law and Beatrice have both been murdered and Lucifer is taking Beatrice’s soul with him to hell, leaving Dante the seemingly impossible task of fighting his way through all nine circles to get her back.
Essentially, what you have here is an excellent and, dare I say, original idea for a game. This part of history and, indeed, the story of Dante himself, has never been told through the medium of videogames (correct me if I’m wrong?), and is just the right sort of source material that could lead to a fantastic adventure of epic proportions as you delve through hell, fighting your way through against all manner of evil creatures and souls.
But, what you actually get is a clone of God Of War, but not as impressive.
It’s fair to say that, although this game borrows a lot from GoW, it is still fun to play, with some incredible art direction as you progress through the nine circles. But upon completion of the game and reflecting back, I can see some flaws which make it inferior to its ‘hack n slash’ rival. But let’s start off by looking at the positives, because ultimately I really did enjoy playing this game.
Firstly, the art and design that’s gone into the look and feel of Hell and all who inhabit it really is quite stunning in places, with the landscape and vastness of some areas as well as the attention to detail impressing throughout. The cut scenes clearly have had a lot of time spent on them and the voice acting, again, is something which keeps you gripped to the story throughout.
Speaking of all this, I should remind you that this game is an 18 rating for a reason. Dante’s vision of hell is not one you would want anyone under that age roaming through, especially when you get to the circle of hell related to Lust. I’ll say no more to save any real spoilers.
The moves you pull off, whether they are combos or quick time-orientated, all look brutal and there are some really gruesome parts to this game which will make any fan of the genre smile. The relics you collect on the way, which boost various stats for Dante, are plentiful, but you will find yourself using the same few throughout the game and approaching the last couple of circles.
The weapons you use are either the unholy scythe or the holy cross, which look great to use, especially when you upgrade your abilities, spending the souls you’ve earned throughout the game. However, unlike games like God Of War, these are the only weapons you get, and aside from unlocking a few magic attacks, there really is no variety and you are stuck using the same weapon throughout.
The magic abilities are interesting and useful, to an extent however, but there are only five of them, so, once you’ve locked four slots to assign them to, it’s pretty obvious which ones you should use more often.
As you progress through the game, one thing you will notice is how short the different circles get towards the end. The final circle, which is a nice change of scenery, is frozen over, but only took 10 minutes to get to the game’s final boss and, surely, as the last circle of hell it should have been the most arduous of tasks, as Lucifer throws everything he’s got at you to prevent you reaching him!
Sadly, instead the final circle is short but sweet with a pretty epic and tough battle at the end. This all makes it appear a bit lazy in the development process, having used up most of the great ideas in the first few circles and just rushed the ending of it and, all in all, makes the final battle a bit of an anti-climax.
Ultimately, though, I don’t mean to be negative about what was genuinely a good ‘hack n slash’ experience. There were just these moments where they could have done so much better but, sadly, didn’t.
If you are a fan of this kind of game then I do highly recommend it, even if you just rent it, as there is a lot of fun to be had and achievements a plenty if you’re into that kind of thing. Not to mention the DLC coming soon, where you put your character against customisable waves of enemies in a survival mode entitled “Trials of St Lucia” and even share that experience in multiplayer and online so others can try out their luck against a survival mode you’ve created.
Okay, so it’s no God Of War when it comes down to it, but, honestly, you’ll have a lot of fun with this title and those who dismiss it will really miss out on a far better than average hack’n’slash adventure.