Dante’s Inferno (Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Visceral Games

Publisher(s) – Electronic Arts

Director(s) – Jonathan Knight & Stephan Barry

Producer(s) – Jonathan Knight & Justin Lambros

Based on the renowned poem The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, Dante’s Inferno is a hack and slash adventure game, which like Darksiders, did more than provide gamers with an experience to tide them over before God of War III was released the same year. To me, it is one of the most overlooked video games of the seventh generation and worth a lot more attention. However, it’s not for the feint of heart.

Graphics – 9/10

As well as featuring some particularly impressive-looking FMVs throughout, including some short animated scenes depicting Dante’s back-story, it was said by the developers of the game that Hell itself was the star of the show; and I believe that couldn’t be closer to the truth. The majority of the game takes place in the nine circles of Hell, which all take on different visual aspects, and ring true to the sin that they represent. For example, the circle of greed is made from eternally trapped souls suffering in smelting gold, and the circle of violence has three distinctive stages differentiating from violence against others, violence against themselves and violence against God.

Gameplay – 8/10

At first glance, the game does seem like a simple hack and slash with less variety than God of War. But the more players delve into the game, the more variety they will inevitably discover. It also does something rather unique; it blends in morality mechanics with the combat, so players can choose to gain either divine powers or satanic powers, depending on the actions they may take, which involve either absolving or punishing enemies accordingly. Not only is it extremely entertaining, but it’s also provides a decent level of challenge; especially towards the end.

Controls – 10/10

As it plays out very much like any game in the God of War series, the gameplay formula had since been perfected, and consequently, there were no problems with the game’s control scheme. With games like these, an issue that often seems to crop u is that camera angles can at times be awkward, since the camera follows the player throughout, and is at times obstructed by surrounding scenery. But that problem doesn’t exist in this game at all.

Lifespan – 5/10

In my opinion, the worst thing about this game is how criminally short it is. One playthrough can last about five and a half hours, and though it can be played through again, in order to gain the opposite set of powers to what was gained in the first playthrough, and to collect any items that may have been missed the first time round, it can still feel too short. Though it would have required more effort on the developer’s part to think of new concepts for different areas of the game, I think it could have been done; or at least existing areas could have been stretched a bit thinner to allow for more gameplay time.

Storyline – 10/10

The story of the game follows a young Templar named Dante, who is killed in battle, only to cheat death by killing the Grim Reaper and taking is scythe. He then returns home to Florence to find his father and lover Beatrice dead. He then witness Lucifer carrying Beatrice’s soul to Hell, and thus resolves to follow them and get her back. Dante is confronted by his various sins throughout, and also resolves to atone and absolve himself. The story is engrossing from start to finish, and like the poem, deals with many different themes and problems with humanity in general.

Originality – 7/10

In the seventh generation of gaming, there were a few games that stood out as being proficient in gameplay, as well as decent storytelling. Dante’s Inferno is one of them, alongside the likes of BioShock, Borderlands and Brutal Legend. I wish there would have been a bit more longevity attached to it than what there was, beyond both the main story and the survival mode, but the game’s story alone makes it adequately unique. There haven’t been many decent video games come along to have been adapted straight from a books, but this was a solid effort.

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In all, Dante’s Inferno is in danger of becoming a forgotten gem these days, but for any hack and slash fan with a strong stomach and an appreciation for good story, this is a must-have. It’s one of the stronger gaming experiences of the seventh generation, and worth at least one playthrough.

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

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