Dante's Inferno PlayStation 3
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Visceral Games
The God of War series mixed hack and slash action with Greek mythology and adorned it with quick time events and the result was memorable. Dante's Inferno is a game that's pretty much in the same vein, replacing Greek mythology with Dante's The Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) as its source material, and it has to be said that in the early part of the game it is also fairly comparable to God of War in terms of quality. Unfortunately however, the further the game progresses, the less impressive the experience becomes. That's not to say that Dante's Inferno isn't worthy of your attention but it's a shame the quality that was shown in the early phase of the game couldn't have been carried throughout the remainder.
The game, like the source material it's based on, tells the story of Dante's journey through the nine circles of hell. In the game you'll play as Dante who returns from the Crusade with the goal of trying to find his love, Beatrice. Unfortunately for him Beatrice has been murdered and wrongly condemned to hell. It's up to Dante to rescue her then as he initially gets to fight Death himself before descending through the nine circles of hell in search for his true love. The game doesn't adhere closely to The Divine Comedy but there's certainly enough of a flavour here to make it interesting.
The bloody combat in Dante's Inferno is fairly straightforward. You have a heavy and light attack, you can fire crosses at your enemies and as the game progresses you'll acquire a range of magical attacks. In fights against the bigger enemies you'll also get to engage in some quick-time events too, in true God of War style. In short the combat system is solid and easy to get to grips with making the combat, for the most part, enjoyable. You can even absolve or punish enemies if you choose, although this is a feature that could have been dispensed with in all honesty.
For slaying enemies you'll earn souls which allow you to purchase additional combo moves and new abilities. When you have enough souls you can enter the upgrade menu and select your preferred upgrade from those available. You'll have a choice of both Unholy and Holy upgrades to select from. You'll also get to collect silver Judas coins which allow you to unlock souls, Beatrice Stones which allow you to auto-absolve the damned and you'll also acquire magic spells too, as you progress through the game.
On a basic level, Dante's Inferno is a fairly enjoyable game and it should appeal to those who appreciate other games in this genre. I do have a problem with how the game progresses however. To begin with all appears to be absolutely fine. The various levels you fight in are well designed and the nature of the enemies you'll face are appropriate to the general theme of the circle of hell that you're playing on. As you progress, standards begin to slip however. The levels on the whole don't feel so impressive or as epic in scale. You'll also see enemies recycled from earlier levels even when it's inappropriate to the current circle you're on. To make matters worse, the latter part of the game sets objectives for you (such as killing a hoard of enemies with a single combo) which make the experience frustrating if you haven't developed your character in a specific way. Whilst I have no objection to games such as this offering challenges they should always be optional and not compulsory.
Graphically speaking, there's not a lot to criticise Dante's Inferno for. The general look of the game is absolutely fine with both the environments and the enemies looking quite impressive. The game uses both CGI and a graphical novel style for its cut scenes and they are rather effective. The game manages to create a truly hellish ambiance and for that it deserves praise. The game's enemies, some of which are huge, in particular have a nightmarish look to them but whilst they are simply hideous to look at, they are exactly what you'd expect in a game that's attempting to depict hell in a form that we can all understand. Performance wise the game is certainly impressive with load times being short and the frame rate being very smooth.
Dante's Inferno is subtitled although the subtitles are not enabled by default. The subtitles are displayed using quite a small white font. For the most part legibility is fine but there are times when the text can clash with the colour of the background making reading a little tricky. There are no character portraits or names placed alongside the subtitles but for the most part it's fairly obvious who is saying what. The game's tutorial messages are all delivered using text and icons and the game does a decent job of delivering them gradually instead of making you sit through some tedious tutorial phase. For the most part, deaf gamers won't have any problems with Dante's Inferno.
It's easy to look at Dante's Inferno and simply label it as a God of War clone but that is a little unfair. Whilst it's true that the game will give you a strong sense of déjà vu if you've played a God of War or similar game, the game deserves to be judged on its own merits and all things considered it's a solid game that certainly has its moments. It's perhaps a little unfortunate that the most enjoyable part of the game is its early stages and that the most frustrating parts come during the latter stages in the shape of the objectives that you have to satisfy in order to progress. Despite its shortcomings then, Dante's Inferno is certainly worth a look if you're a fan of the genre.