Sometimes I wonder which idiot decides when a game should get released. After a long drought of Hack&Slash games in 2009 we’re suddenly getting overwhelmed with titles in this genre. Bayonetta and Darksiders have already passed by, but with God of War III coming up the competition is still high. And still EA decided to release a new IP in the heat of battle, about two weeks after Bayonetta and a not so long before God of War 3 arrives. Next to that the game faces an identity crisis and has some failed advertising stunts to cope with. Will this be a shameless “Mod of War” or a proud “God of Hell”?
Dante´s Inferno is based on the first part from “The Divine Comedy”, the infamous book written in the 14th century by Dante Alighieri. Everything happens in the year 1191, the period of the third crusade.
The protagonist, Dante, travels as knight under the flag of King Richard to the city of Acre to spread “belief” and take possession of an artefact from Saladin. Before our hero went on crusade, he made a pact with his beloved Beatrice: both would remain faithful to each other while he would do his duty during the Crusades. Oh well, everyone knows how things go during such crusades; killing for fun, a virgin here, a MILF there, … you know the drill.
Once back home he stumbles upon the half-naked, sexually molested and most of all butchered body of his wife. Beatrice’s soul appears shortly before Dante but if things aren’t enough yet, it quickly gets taken by a pretty perverse Lucifer. Dante grabs together all his courage and decides to follow the king of demons to the gates of hell.
The gameplay is pretty good in Dante’s Inferno but the comparison people tend to make with God of War is not without reason. Give Dante Kratos’ two swords and put the name God of War on the box and not a lot of people will notice the differences. Personally I find the game to lack personality of its own and that’s quite sad for any game.
Dante’s Inferno is all but a bad game though, even more, it’s been several months since I had so much fun with a game. Some similarities between both games: opening door through button bashing, filling your health meter by opening boxes (in this case lavatories), similar structure of puzzles, the climbing, almost identical weapons and the way you need to take down bigger enemies. But Dante’s Inferno also does a few things different…
As Dante gains experience you can use souls as currency to buy new special skills and combos. These abilities are divided in two categories, “Holy” and “Unholy” skills and each category also has a split into levels. How and when you reach a level depends on the punishment or forgiveness you apply to your enemies. Choose mostly to punish and Unholy skills will become easier to unlock. These usually cause more damage than the Holy type. On top of that you’re not limited to a category which gives you quite a lot of freedom in developing your character.
The atmosphere in Dante’s Inferno is top notch. The nine different circles (layers) all breathe a unique atmosphere and are built to reflect their main zone. Take the second layer as example. Lust is the main zone and you’ll quickly notice the presence of nude women. But before you run to the store with one hand in your pants already and a tube of sliding potion in the other I should tell you they’re not really exciting. They have deformed bodies, with tentacles that seem to grow out of their genitals and with which they try to do damage.
Throughout the circle you’ll also often hear women moaning in the background or doors that look like genitals. And just when you think you’ve seen it all you come eye to eye with the leader of that circle: a giant Cleopatra who nicely waves her breasts at you after which her nipples seem to open like big mouths and spit a huge arsenal of hostiles your way. Sick sick sick.
While going through the nine circles there’s a lot to collect. You’ll regularly meet special doomed, each with their own story and reason why the went to hell. It’s up to you to choose whether you punish them and leave them to rot in hell, or to forgive them and promise paradise. Both choices give you a lot of souls and the idea is to collect as many as possible during your quest.
A second layer of collecting starts with searching rare relics. These artefacts are pretty well hidden and can be used to give your powers or skills quite a big boost. In total you’ll be able to simultaneously use four relics which can result in quite varying playing styles.
Graphically Dante’s Inferno certainly doesn’t look bad. Dante’s moves are nicely shown and the hostiles are beautifully and originally made. The nine circles are easily identifiable and have a huge amount of detail. Still the game can’t be compared to titles like Uncharted or Bayonetta. Gore, blood and HD titties are abundantly present which earns the game a solid +18 label.
Dante’s Inferno uses almost all of God of War’s gameplay elements but this doesn’t take away that it’s a lot of fun to play. The game manages in an original way to display the nine circles of hell and contains a lot of different enemies and collectables. Personally I didn’t find it better than Bayonetta but it’s still very good. Don’t forget, this is the only chance for Xbox360 gamers to play a very good God of War look-a-like on their console.