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Impressions: Dante’s Inferno (PS3)

When I sat down to write this article, I went in with the intention of writing an official review. Over the past two days, I’ve spent about 4 hours with the game and made my way through six of the nine levels of Hell. Even though I haven’t finished it, I feel confident that I have enough experience with the game to make a solid judgment. However, without finishing it completely, I don’t feel like I can post this with as a normal “Should I Buy” article. Though, I do plan on finishing the game tomorrow.

Let’s start with Story, since that’s a big reason why I’m alright with writing this article midway through the game.

Story

Summary:

Effectively, it goes like this: You are Dante, former Crusader and husband of the beautiful Beatrice. Before leaving for the Crusade, you promise Beatrice that you’ll remain faithful. Except, when a priest announces that all of the combatants would be cleansed of their sins, Dante succumbs to the temptations of another woman. As the game progresses, Dante is revealed to have done much, much, more.

On the boat to hell. Yes, thats the back of the boats head. Dont ask.

On the boat to hell. Yes, that's the back of the boat's head. Don't ask.

Dante eventually falls victim to an enemy blade and, when Death reveals himself and attempts to take Dante to Hell, finds himself chopped in half with his own scythe, which Dante takes as his own. Returning back to his home, he finds Beatrice murdered and Lucifer appears and whisks her off to Hell. Your job, is to rescue the innocent maiden and redeem yourself in the process.

Thoughts:

If I’m being honest here (which I always am), the story is lacking. Then again, most people who would find themselves interested in this game probably aren’t in it for the narrative; they’re in it for the vivid imagining of Hell Visceral games has accomplished, but more on that later.

The premise serves as a good reason to get you into Hell and keep you going. As a lasting motivation; however, the story falls flat. In every level, you hear the same taunts in Lucifer, and other’s, malicious voices. She’s also dangled right in front of you, in many cases. The problem is, there story isn’t developed enough to make you really care about Beatrice. She becomes a device for the game to keep throwing demons at me rather than someone I care about as a character. That’s a problem.

But, again, story isn’t the main reason most players will come. So we’ll put that to the side.

Visuals

In short, Dante’s Inferno is visually stunning. Not only is the game presented with full utilization of the PS3’s graphics capabilities, but the attention to detail is excellent. The landscape is lined with a thin membrane trapping thousands of lost souls, writhing beneath the surface. Greed’s bubbles of molten gold often take human form. Hands reach from the muck in Anger. In many ways, the little details really make the atmosphere.

The Judge - less of a wuss than Cleopatra

But let’s zoom back a little bit. Each level is magnificent in its own horrible way, and embodies the sin for which they are themed. Each feels huge (except for Lust, which was incredibly short and, really, a let down) and foreboding. The visions of Hell presented in this game are probably the best ever to come out of modern media. For curiosity’s sake alone, this game is worth a look.

The monsters you fight are very varied; however, by Anger I was seeing repeats and reskins of the same ones filling each fight – there were just more of them. The way it looks right now, each level introduces one new mob type while keeping the others breathing down your neck, which makes the game progressively more challenging. Since you’re consistently fighting more and more mobs, don’t be surprised if your combo meter kicks up into the hundreds.

Sound

The sound is ominous and music is used well. Different kinds of moans and cries of anguish fill every level; except for Lust, where they seem to enjoy it. Oftentimes, you’ll hear a single voice rise above the others in a particular lament. These are interesting and atmospheric at first but, after a while, they get a little annoying.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Gameplay

The game is right up God of War’s alley. If you know GoW, you know Dante’s Inferno. You attack with heavy, light, magic, and holy attacks. Combo’s and other abilities are unlocked via a skill tree opened by collecting the souls of vanquished enemies. Bosses are often finished off in a series of quick time events. Your character can also run, jump, and swing from ropes. I won’t go further into the mechanics than that, since there’s really no need.

The combat feels fluid and polished, although, on Normal settings, it’s a little easy. Using combos will help you and are quite satisfying to pull off due to some great animations. Using a combination of my ranged Cross and light attack combos, I found myself finishing most fights without issue. As a matter of fact, the only times I found myself dying were due to bad timing on jumps.

After four hours, things were starting to feel a little repetitive. This was accentuated by the fact that, before every fight in Anger, the camera focuses on a series of gates locking you in the immediate area. I don’t know why they chose to do this since, in other levels, they rarely ever draw such attention. It just slows down the game play and reminds the player that they’re fighting, running, fighting, running, with little else in between.

Overall

In the end, I’ve enjoyed playing Dante’s Inferno. Going in, I wasn’t expecting more than a beat ’em up game with excellent visuals and that’s what I got.

What I didn’t expect though, was just how taxing it can be to play through such drear levels for any length of time. There’s enough there to make you say “wow” fairly often, but that still doesn’t change the fact that each level is more depressing than the last. Even though the combat is fun, I’m writing this review now simply because I needed a break from the environment for a little bit. I don’t know how Visceral could have fixed this, given that, well, Hell is a depressing place. But still, pain, horror, darkness, and evil just feel heavy after a while.

That being said, each level was neat in its own way to play through. I found myself wondering at the design of each circle though. Some seemed way too short (Lust, and no, I’m not saying that for perverted reasons) while others seemed excruciatingly long (Greed).

I also wonder about the “bosses” for each zone. And I put that in quotes because, well, not all zones have a boss. At least twice, I found myself surprised to be in a whole new circle of Hell without ever knowing I’d finished the one before it. The Lust boss also bothered me a bit. Not only was the level incredibly short (you’re out almost as soon as you’re in), but the giant Cleopatra boss? Yeah, four quick time moves and she’s dead. No fight. Nothing. That’s the best you could do Visceral?

Or how about the “god” (*cough*statue*cough*) of Greed? Even though they gave it its own title scene, you don’t even fight it? It doesn’t come to life? Nothing?

These are let downs that can’t be ignored, but, the game is interesting enough to make it worth progressing.

At this point, I wouldn’t recommend spending the $59.99 on it. For that much money, there are better options for your investment (Darksiders: similar yet better in almost every way). However, for a rental, it’s worth it. I got it for 5 days from Blockbuster for $7.99. With less than 10 hours of game play, a rental should show you enough of the game to make your own judgments.

Enjoy!


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