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Dante's Inferno (PlayStation 3) artwork

Dante's Inferno (PlayStation 3) review

"Itís hard to imagine that there was even a moment where I legitimately enjoyed playing Danteís Inferno. Knee deep in Hell, buried in the gameís final levels, slaughtering the same enemies over and over and over again, Iím tired. A significant part of me wants to turn off my PlayStation 3, but I feel like Iíve invested too much time in the experience to end it now. Like Dante, I feel like I must strengthen my resolve and continue my struggle through an experience that has both bored and ..."

Itís hard to imagine that there was even a moment where I legitimately enjoyed playing Danteís Inferno. Knee deep in Hell, buried in the gameís final levels, slaughtering the same enemies over and over and over again, Iím tired. A significant part of me wants to turn off my PlayStation 3, but I feel like Iíve invested too much time in the experience to end it now. Like Dante, I feel like I must strengthen my resolve and continue my struggle through an experience that has both bored and frustrated me for several hours now. I am no longer enjoying the product. I only desire to be done with it for good.

I have assumed the role of Dante, who has traveled to Hell after dispatching Death himself in an effort to rescue his love Beatrix from the clutches of Lucifer. Thatís the entire plot. It is never expanded beyond this simple summation. The game is allegedly adapted from The Divine Comedy, though like most people who will pick up this game, Iíve never read it. From what I understand, the similarities stop after character names and the setting.

I thought I might enjoy the game when I first loaded it up. The combat is initially flashy, with Dante wielding Deathís scythe with flair as he flips and flies through the air with gravity-defying ease. He takes to the air and crashes down to the ground, thunderously slamming the scythe through typical hack-and-slash enemy varieties that fall in dozens beneath his attacks. Hellís minions are accompanied by Circle-themed bosses to slaughter, all of which culminate in QTE events that depict brutal deaths. Dante also has a ranged attack in the form of a cross that shoots out some sort of holy magic at enemies.

The frantic action kept me going in the early portions. The game couldnít throw enough of the handful of enemies that are offered for sacrifice, though now I feel like I have been fighting the same three enemies for the last six hours. During the earlier portions, I swung the scythe with glee, occasionally grabbing enemies and choosing to either absolve them of their sins or punish them. Through this gameplay mechanic (the only original one really to speak of), Dante is cast as arbiter of the fates of the Damned, with either option yielding experience points which open up branches of the gameís skill trees. Original though it may be, the mechanic isnít particularly fun and, like the rest of the game, really just boils down into a sequence of button mashing.

The skill tree, which is generally an exciting place in other hack-and-slash games, offers few enticing upgrades. The two sides of the tree, holy and unholy, offer nearly the same upgrades, so choosing to condemn or save the souls of Hellís denizens comes down simply to personal preference. Each tree does have some unique upgrades, but most boil down to simple health and armor upgrades and slightly flashier combos. In most other hack-and-slash games that Iíve played, I have eagerly hunted down as many foes as I can to unlock the next combo or spell. I rarely looked forward to unlocking a new ability or enhancing a spell in Danteís Inferno.

Outside of combat, the game offers some platforming and a few limited puzzles, most of which involve pushing levers (the other variety requires you to pull levers). Only a stage reminiscent of an M.C. Escher painting stands out as at least looking original; even still, like the rest of the challenges it boiled down to simply flipping the right sequence of levers. This is certainly not a game for anyone looking for any sort of mental stimulation; the plot is forgettable, the gameplay requires little more than mashing on three controller buttons and the puzzles seem drawn from the mid-1990s after Tomb Raider came out and every subsequent action/platformer went lever crazy.

Without really anything interesting going on in terms of gameplay, all weíre left to do is look at Danteís Inferno. It isnít an unattractive game by any means. The in-game graphics heavily feature the traditional Hell pallet Ė shades of brown and red account for at least 90% of the color scheme. Though much of your time spent battling through this incredibly linear Hell will be spent in brown corridors or brown caverns, the Lust chapter of the game is unique in that it is full of phallic symbols and run by a topless Cleopatra who spews unbaptized babies from her violet nipples. If youíre looking for a more creatively inspired version of Hell that goes beyond fears of physical torture and brimstone, you wonít find it here.

The frame-rate holds up well through all the action, though the camera can be a bit cumbersome. Youíre given no control over it, which means that youíll often be shooting your holy magic at enemies that may or may not actually exist off-screen. Youíre also not given any ability to choose the target of your ranged attack, which has both benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, without having to aim you can fire blindly at off-screen enemies and still hit them. On the other, youíll often attack enemies that you donít want to hit, including enemies that are impervious to your holy magic instead of the ones that arenít. Obviously targeting was handled in this way to make up for the camera, but shouldnít the camera issues have inspired the developers to fix the camera instead of putting a band-aid over it?

Danteís Inferno is still running next to me, with its orchestral music and screams of thousands of Damned souls being punished trying to draw me back in. Sorry Dante. Beatrix isnít being rescued. And itís your fault. Danteís Inferno may have some value to Xbox 360 owners who canít play God of War, but on a machine that also runs Kratosí trilogy, the game just canít stack up. Danteís Inferno is by no means a bad game, but it never once provides players with a single compelling reason to actually play it. It is entirely boring, unoriginal and will pass into gaming obscurity unremembered alongside so many other games that could and should have been a lot better.


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Community review by asherdeus (May 10, 2010)

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True posted May 11, 2010:

Nice to see you back, Ash.

This is an excellent review. Focused, straight-forward and descriptive--addressing most of the major aspects of what makes/breaks an action game. Every complaint I had about Dante's Inferno seem to be the same as yours, and it's nice to know I'm not the only one who was disappointed with this game.
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asherdeus posted May 14, 2010:

Thanks for the comments, True. I've really been working on trying to keep my writing more focused, so hearing your comments really means a lot to me. I haven't really been terribly active until recent weeks as school has died down, so expect to see me around a bit more in the coming months!

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