Google+

Dante's Inferno review

Solid

It won’t call you names, but Dante’s Inferno will offend. Whether intentional on Visceral Games’ part or not – and in truth it’ll be a combination of the two – you’ll not enjoy every minute in Lucifer’s lair. The abhorrence begins with Limbo, the lair of unbaptized babies. When the first infant emerged crying from the hollowed-out womb of a female effigy (which is lying underneath the gaze of a fiery devil) we questioned whether we wanted to keep playing. As it waddled forward on wobbly legs our only option was to take a scythe to it. It’s easily the most disturbing moment we’ve ever witnessed on a console and one that’ll understandably upset a lot of people.

Dante’s also offends with its numbing repetition. Nothing epitomises Hell quite like the invisible barrier. The laziest of all gaming mechanics, it’s capable of marring almost any experience when used without limitations. Not that the opacity matters. Flame barriers, bone barriers, magic barriers: visible or not, ultimately they’re all as bad as each other.

Dante’s Inferno’s crammed with them. Step onto a circular platform or enter a long hallway and you just know you’re about to be attacked. Obstacles are strung across the one exit (Dante’s is as linear as a rope), freaks are pushed through the floor and you’ll be forced to clear house before moving along to the next battle. Occasionally Visceral throws in the odd brainteaser – never more than a basic lever puzzle – but for the most part Dante’s Inferno’s predictability is unmatched.

Then there’s Dante himself: a vile protagonist of astonishing proportions. Dante is fighting through Hell to save his murdered lover Beatrice and return her to Heaven. He’s so foul, though, that his overarching tale of redemption is ineffectual blubber. The man is unquestionably deserving of his trip through Hell, and while we’re supposed to root for his success and Beatrice’s salvation it becomes increasingly difficult to enjoy the skin you’re forced to wear.

The fourth, and perhaps the worst offence of all, becomes apparent only towards the end: the missed opportunities. Having set its marker with the truly horrendous unbaptised baby scene, Visceral Games bottles it. There are still nasty visions later on, but nothing that comes close to the first hour. The Woods of Suicide – a level deep down in Violence – could have been the most creative of all the areas. We predicted rows of hanged people and sobbing souls forever forced to slice their wrists like Sisyphus was forced to roll his rock (yes, this is how your brain works when playing this game). Indeed, your guide Virgil warns you not to enter because it’s too much to handle.

Inside though it’s little more than a few gnarled and admittedly quite peeved faces impressed upon the trees. Your first steps into the eternally agonising portals of Hell, massively disappointing gates aside, are memorable for the endless falling bodies and for tortured spirit after tortured spirit clawing at Dante from within the walls. A few hours into the adventure, however, the formula is never re-stirred.

The journey through the underworld is a whistlestop tour of all the epic poem’s major sights with plenty of dull filler in between. You’re whisked through the nine circles at such a pace that the major areas of Hell act as little more than footnotes punctuating lengthy nothingness. For every boss fight there are a dozen identical rope-swings and cliffs to rappel down. The sensation that you’re not exploring Hell so much as its maintenance tunnels is inescapable. This problem is sometimes compounded by a dodgy camera resulting in unwanted dunks in molten gold soup.

Maddeningly there are often glimpses of interesting goings-on in the distance or at the corner of the screen, but because the camera’s locked to rails the best sights seem hidden from you. The City of Dis’ introduction is a phenomenal blend of art direction and calmness that’s never repeated, and a set-piece which suggests the game will stop dragging its feet and gather some momentum. But when you enter through the city’s gates you’re forced to suffer the most boring rendition of Gears of War 2’s closing Brumak ride. Yes, Dante’s Inferno has its unfair share of dragging animalistic ‘vehicle’ sections. And with the camera locked to the turd-brown road in front, despite the endless expanse of magnificent red flame and lava just above the eye-line, you don’t even get the chance to appreciate the view.

When you finally do come across an area of note, the game rarely delivers. The Wheel of Fortune turns out to be nothing more than a plain slab of stone on top of which you fight a boss. Similarly disappointing is Geyron’s back, which just turns out to be a plain elevator (with, you’ve guessed it, respawning enemies on top).

These problems are only amplified by the moments where the inspiration shines through. Gluttony is a conceptual triumph, built entirely out of giant tongue bridges, mouth gates and digestive organs. Charon’s Ferry is another exceptional moment: the normal ferryman and his boat traded for a hulking beast. Characters, too, often show sparks of creative genius. Human faces are problematic, but most enemy types are as twisted as a tornado. It wouldn’t make a difference to the game’s final score, but we’d love to pore over the concept art design documents.


Above: Yup, you can dress as Isaaac from Dead Space

It would be easy to get bogged down in the swampy mire that is Dante’s Inferno’s wealth of problems for quite a few more pages, yet it’s worth celebrating what Visceral Games’ latest gorefest does right: copying God of War. Dante’s Inferno isn’t just a 3D action game with uncanny similarities to God of War. It’s a clone, to the point where we’re stunned Sony’s lawyers haven’t been called in for a chat. Instead of Greek gods and crumbling ruins we’ve got sinners and circles of Hell, but the colour of the coating is irrelevant when the cake underneath is the same.

Of course, our fairytale doesn’t quite end there. While Dante’s poem is the perfect set-up for the title (iconic location, memorable beasties, nine clear-cut levels and a fight with Lucifer to round it all off – the game practically designed itself) the execution sits far closer to the ‘good’ marker than it does the ‘great’.

Enemy archetypes can be split into three major categories: grunts, heavies and bosses. The first is the fodder. Unbaptized babies, zombie-esque warriors… they’ll nip and scratch but Dante can dispose of them with ease. The heavies take a little more punishment (actually, a lot more later on), and include a couple of scrotum-wrenchingly tough foes you’ll be happy to see the entrails of.

Monsters from both categories, however, permeate through all of Hell’s nine circles without explanation. Babies appear in almost every level. Harlots also traverse Lust’s barriers and appear elsewhere for no discernible reason other than Visceral not designing enough bespoke enemies for each environment. Don’t ask us why there are more bloated blood-balloons in Heresy than there are in Gluttony as we simply do not know. Laziness would be our suggestion.

Happily Dante’s fighting mechanics fare better than the continuity. His upgrade tree revolves around two weapons: the holy cross and the unholy scythe. You can either punish or absolve enemies to earn experience in the relevant alignment, opening up extra moves and abilities. Souls are also harvested from monsters, but this currency is universal and isn’t assigned to either of Dante’s weapons. In the course of a single play-through it’s possible to max out one path and most of the second, which proves to be useful given later enemies’ invincibility to certain magic. Attributes can then be further boosted by equipping relics snatched from demons (these relics also level up, but only gain EXP if equipped so you’ll need to choose wisely).

As well as the standard beasties there are 27 crying historical figures dotted around the underworld who need to be dealt with one way or the other. For some reason Visceral has seen fit to use this idea as a vessel for a rolling commentary on the struggle for righteousness. It usually only takes a single button press and a flick of the analogue sticks to punish a sinner, but effort is required to free somebody from the shackles of their sins. If you choose to help any of the 27 damned you’ll be transported to a sin-catching button-matching minigame frighteningly similar to Dance Dance Revolution. The idea is a colossal misfire. The 40-second game is simply a rhythm action title on mute, and unsurprisingly it’s a chore to complete.

Otherwise combat works exactly as you’d expect, with last-minute blocks triggering counters and ridiculous combo opportunities opening up for the most dexterous fingers. Dante dodges attacks with a flick of the right stick, an input that even interrupts attacking animations if need be. Hardly an upheaval, but it’s the single feature where Dante’s gets one over on God of War. Every now and then you’ll find a small area with an obscured camera angle or two, but for the most part everything works neatly without ever excelling. Often the temptation to spam the long-ranged cross attacks is too great to pass up, not to mention too effective to ignore. If difficulty is the problem, however, the options screen comes to the rescue: toughness can be raised and lowered on the fly.

The unfortunate launch date hasn’t helped Dante’s cause. One month after Bayonetta’s weapon-juggling combopalooza, the stunted list of Dante’s skills makes for grim reading, and while the games aren’t directly comparable anybody who comes to this after Platinum Games’ masterpiece will feel short-changed. They’re very different spectacles though, and during those few moments of brilliance when Visceral’s vision shines through you’ll happily choose to forgive Dante’s Inferno’s less imaginative portions. God of War is a mighty tough act to emulate and Inferno clearly isn’t in the same league, but though this copycat is flawed it’s a guilty pleasure for those who can’t wait for the real thing.

Feb 3, 2010

More Info

Release date: Feb 09 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Feb 12 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PSP
Genre: Action
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: A2M, Visceral Games
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes
PEGI Rating:
18+

We Recommend By ZergNet

47 comments

  • jscriber100 - September 20, 2010 11:03 p.m.

    i had to play it on my friends 360.this game is crazy.i see why its a mature game.nude cursed souls,shirtless cleopatra,even the devil is butt naked.i think they went a little too far.i've never played God of War,but i've seen it played a few times and this game is kinda like it.
  • malikerwin - March 21, 2010 9:57 p.m.

    i think it did not live up to its expectation out of ten i give it a 7
  • jcurtis841 - March 15, 2010 4:47 p.m.

    I have played through the game one complete time and I can see where there are some problems with the game. If you are sensitive to gore, violence, and religion then don't play this game. The name of the game is "Dante's Inferno". Not "Dante's Flower Garden". If you have read the dark comedy then you have an idea of what is going on. If not, then not only are you in for a suprise, but you will probably get sick. I like this game and think that iit is a great game.
  • Oldgamer22 - February 25, 2010 8:36 a.m.

    Well i played the demo and i have to disagree, i mean it is hell and after all thats as bad as it gets, if u can't stand the heat, get out of hell!!! hahaha
  • aperson789 - February 25, 2010 1:37 a.m.

    This is stupid, why are people so caught up in it being a god of war clone. If a game is FPS then is it a copy of call of duty? Just because the gameplay is similar does not mean it is a rip off! Btw I think it is a good game.
  • PiscesIscariot - February 23, 2010 5:39 p.m.

    I'm tired of these "OMG ITS A GOD OF WAR CLONE!1!" Doom was the first FPS ever, like God of War was the first action game to incorporate most of it's gameplay. So is Wolfenstien a clone of Doom? Is Halo a clone of Doom? No, its not.
  • AliasAce - February 15, 2010 8:23 a.m.

    @skynetiscoming: I agree and disagree with some of your statements, but i first need to say this: I will be the first to admit i do think alot of these gaming sites are in on some kind of marketing scam(not all) of some sort. Whether they do it for the cash or for personal fan satisfaction, we will never know too much on the inside unfortunately. I can say that I DO enjoy coming to this game site. They do a very good job at keeping me entertained with their reviews and other informal news. I like them. What i don't like is when hey hype up a game, then shit on it because their favorite fanboy game is about to drop. I love the videogame mediums so much, that i try to always have a wide range of games to play.(Bayonetta makes me wanna cumm, but i hold it in) GR makes me happy when they give legit reviews and don't let other great games effect their opinions on another. Other than that i really don't have a complaint. Dante Inferno is a great game and i love it. In this case immitation is a form of flattery, and EA pulled it off very well. And as for you my friend, keep gaming ad enjoying all the hard work the developers put in with their time and heart(i will too as well) and sry for saying you were a novice game renter(lol). Im pretty sure your a kick-ass gamer like so. "POWER TO THE GAMERS"!!!
  • Ghostfreak49 - February 15, 2010 4:26 a.m.

    Ok, your in Hell and your complaining about a depressing atmosphere? If you guys want to fight about something in this game, fight about the mythology within the first level. Your facing Death, and when you fight back, you win. First of all, his scythe is supposed to be so powerful that he can reap the souls of every mortal within one swing. And you kill him with a halbred. Second of all, Lucifer is sending minions, many of whom were brought to Hell by Death, to attack the guy who killed Death. Visceral Games should have seriously rethought that to where Dante makes a deal with Death instead. But thats the only real flaw in this game. I'm guessing that most everyone else hasent taken the time to read the Divine Comedy. You're not supposed to be exploring Hell, you're supposed to be led through by Virgil, which is changed in the game so it's an actual game, but they did a very nice job of keeping true to the story.
  • skynetiscoming - February 12, 2010 2:39 a.m.

    @Alias Ace. Games are a technology based medium. I started playing games in the PS1 era and I still enjoy some of those games because they pushed the technology of the time to the limits, and were polished AND fun. A game like D's I does not make full use of the technology it has access to. Current Gen consoles are perfectly capable of rendering beautiful environments without invisible walls. In the context of PS1 games, invisible walls were technological flaws, now they are just developers being uncreative.I did no such thing as to say the NES sucks because it is out of date. Games don't suck because the technology they were made with is inferior, they are given lesser review scores because developers made bad decisions. The developers of the game made a poor (and very annoying) design decision. This and other poor decisions are what make the game warrant a 7 instead of an 8,9 or 10. I understand that a 7 is not a bad game and it was dumb of me to say that they shouldn't be played (I bought MAG after all, but I don't like it). What I don't understand about your response is that 7 out of 10 games give you fond memories. If the unpolished state of these games is what makes you remember your old favorites, aren't you the one too obsessed with the polish? Have you been playing 7 out of 10 games your entire life? But for you to RAGE on GR and say that they are biased for giving an unpolished game a 7 is unreasonable. What about that makes them biased? They have addressed several times on the Dar that it is completely absurd to think that anyone in the industry is taking money(except that one time). Unless you are one of those people who thinks that all game developers are in on some sort of scam and that they all take money, dress like normal people, drive normal cars and work unreasonable hours just to fool us into thinking that they don't care about money, I think it is safe to say all game journalists value their freedom of speech more than whatever they would get for throwing a review score or jumping on a bandwagon. You tell me to make my own decisions about games (that I don't have access to yet), yet you say that you missed a bunch of good games because GR was being biased and giving them lower scores because they are inferior, fun or not. A boring game with polish will still get a worse score than something fun and unpolished, but a game that is unpolished will still get a lower score than a complete game. This said, why are you surprised about the score? Who will you go to for "honest reviews" if everyone is on this so called bandwagon you go on about? Why are you still going to this website if you have already determined that they cause you to miss "great games?" This makes me think that you should not be judging me on supposedly taking GR's word as the absolute final word on everything. The whole point of a review is to give an impression of a game so people can make an informed buying choice. GR isn't paying me just like the "bandwagon" isn't paying them. How does giving a game a bad score get them money, and why do you come here just to bash them? I happen to enjoy most of the stuff they post on this site and AGREE with (not accept) most of their reviews. To say that I will die with a bunch of "polished glitches," and "polished barriers" makes absolutely no sense. What makes a game polished is the fact that it has no glitches, invisible barriers or crappy control issues. These are what make a game unpolished, and garner a lower score. If anything, I will die happily with a bunch of polished AND fun games. Saying that all modern developers are only concerned with "pela" and not what the fans think of their games is BS. Look at the huge improvements between AC1 and AC2. Even the fans of the game thought it was repetitive. They fixed it because the fans (reviewers are also fans) thought it was. The second game was universally praised, sold an ass ton of copies and is sitting inside my game console right now, even though I hated the first one. It is not as simple as being either poor and well liked by a small number of fans or rich and have a bunch of crappy games under your belt. Since when do crappy games sell and make a ton of money for developers? If a developer puts out a great game, that is fun and full of win, it is very likely that it will sell more than some piece of crap that is boring and unfinished because the developers don't care about what the fans think or about what a good game is. Look at what happened to GRIN and Pandemic. They never put out anything truly mind blowing and their games were made hastily and were full of bugs. The games didn't sell and they went broke. Since when does buying good games and playing the living sh*t out of them not make me a hardcore gamer. I don't play mediocre games because I want to give my support and my time to playing the funnest and most well made game that I can. Reviewers aren't idiots, I go to many sources and enjoy the best games.
  • zrocs1 - February 10, 2010 8:18 p.m.

    Damn People, Make your own judgment and quit relying on some one elses personal issues. IF Dantes inferno came first would ya'll pass GOW ....That is what I thought. This is not a clone .....So the more you compare the more its gonna let you down. This is a Hack n slash and a damn good one Clone or not it is what it is get over your hang ups and have an open mind and check this game out. As I said before use your own judgement and not based on some one elses opinion... Some people said Dark Siders sucked ....and a GOW Clone.... AND Its One of the 4 horseman Not Greek Kratos...they both kick ass..have fun and quite analzing
  • AliasAce - February 9, 2010 1:21 a.m.

    @skynetiscoming: First of all,to "expect a response" from me is not predetermined by you. It is determined by yours truly, ACE:) Now that's out the way, let's get down to facts that matter. So you say Xbox World 360UK did the review. Okay that could be true but you don't think Gamesradar has their two cents in on this review? C'mon,your a smart guy right? It's posted on their site for good reasons...such as a pocket, chucked full of cash, that of course is ravished through by Microsoft. That's a given. I've purchased most of the "super review" games that were rated a 10 and i enjoyed those titles a bit much. I still take tie out to play them because they create quite the membrance of a time not long ago for me. The fact that you say i'm "scraping" the bottom of the barrel games i totally disagree with you. That's like saying, the super nintendo is crap because the system is old and not up to date with the current consoles. "What a crock!" Thats like saying "Cold Winter" (for the ps2) is the bottom of the barrel because it was underated and did't get notice because it didn't live by the "polish" that other games had at the time. Well i feel sorry for you if you judge games and other things in your life solely on polish and glamour. You will surely will brainwahed and controlled by what you see and hear to be true, only to find out your the one that will "die swiftly and depressingly alone with all your "polished" games that offer nothing but a whole buch of polished glitches, controlled barriers, lack of storyline, bad control configurations and list goes on and on and on. You need go back and play more retro games to appreciate gameplay of real genuine developers that cared more about what the fans thought of their game, other then to only to want "shiny coins", to forge more pela in their pockets! You my friend, should NOT be qualified as a hardcore gamer. Only a novice game renter. *commands high horse to step down as well* Reply if needed.(but i covered all bases. just agree).
  • skynetiscoming - February 8, 2010 11:52 p.m.

    @AliasAce Oh are you finished? Then allow me to retort. If you aren't trolling, Gamesradar did not write this review, Xbox World 360 UK did. Saying that an Xbox writer (not Gamesradar) has a GOW/PS3 bias is nonsensical. Especially when everyone knows that Gamesradar gets so much money from Microsoft they would not need to jump on the "bandwagon to forge more cash in their pockets.":D And saying that they have given bad reviews to games, they have given SIX in house Super Review games a 10 since October. Why not play these awesome games, such as AC2(10), MW2(10) and UC2(10) instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel to find meager enjoyment in "good" games you feel you need to defend when they obviously are not of the caliber, creativity or level of polish their 10s are. If you don't like their reviews, and your missing "good" games instead of playing the "incredible" games that they (and many other sites) give 9s and 10s, go play Dark Void and "die cold and alone." I expect a response. *Steps down off high horse*
  • xXxBLACKHALOxXx - February 8, 2010 10:39 p.m.

    Im Confused How People Can Rag On This Game As A God Of War Clone, Rip Off, Whatever You Want To Call It And Give It A Low Rating, While Games Like Darksiders Is Also Ripping Off Zelda, God Of War Etc... And Get A Higher Score....I Will Be Buying Both Games Regardless Of What There Ripping Off Because Video Game Companies Have Been Doing This For Years.
  • OrionOnyx - February 8, 2010 9:28 p.m.

    If this game is anything like God of War... I'm buying it!
  • radicallyrad - February 8, 2010 2:16 p.m.

    I'm disappointed. I expected a lot more from this game. But I might purchase this after I've bought Bioshock 2, God of War Collection and Darksiders.
  • AliasAce - February 7, 2010 8:16 a.m.

    I also agree with alot of the hardcore gamers that have been excited about Dante's Inferno. Why is it that all this time Gamesradar has been hyping us up for this game, and then when it's about to be released, they talk bad about the game. I just have this "strange feeling" that Gamesradar is gonna give GOW3 a 10. They talk about "barriers" and hell being "depressed". Those two reasons is not enough to not get this game. I have Bayonetta and it has plenty of "barriers", and that did not stop it from being a good game. Maybe some game devs like to put barriers in games so that those people that like to run through a game just to say i beat it and only fought like 10 enemies in the whole entire game don't have a chance to do so. You have to stand and fight and slay every hellish beast that tries to kill you! Sounds like a game for hardcore gamers to me! Gamesradar has given bad reviews to alot of good games just because their paid to ride the "bandwagon" to forge more cash in their pockets. And i personally have missed alot of good games because of them. Some of those bad review games you guys gave out, actually were very good games when i got the chance to play them. Then i asked myself,"how did i miss this great game?". Because i believed in Gamesradar for truthful reviews, and they were being biased. NOT NICE GUYS! I know it's about making loads of cash for you guys, but sometimes being loyal to your fans that trust your reviews can also make you wealthy as well. It could be simple feeling just good ol' flattery from your fans who trust you. Somethings are priceless when being fair instead of biased. I did NOT like the review you gave Dante's Inferno beacuse it's not your GOW franchise. I like the fact that it plays like GOW. Thats a plus. GOW has plenty barriers.It's not an open sandbox game neither! SO i hope those people that think this is not a good game because of the review that was given, hopefully still purchase this game cause it's gonna be awesome. HELL is not rainbows and sunshine (like someone mentioned). IT'S GONNA BE VERY DEPRESSING DOWN THERE! I can't wait to kill some demons in a game because i deal with them everyday allday like HATE...ANGER...DISTRUST...LIARS, and so on. So i owe hell a visit to kill as many as those assholes as possible for making my life so uneasy and full of bad choices at times! At least this game will serve it's purpose as a stress reliever to murder the ultimate enemy...Lucifer! "WHERE'S MY CROSS"! LOL. Thanks to anyone that read this long epiphany dialogue. I hope you still reconcile and play this game for your own "guilty pleasures" and destoy hell for all it's worth! P.S. Gamesradar i hope my honesty gets you guys to see we are loyal hardcore gamers to your site, but sometimes we have to totally disagree with your reviews...especially this ONE!! Dante's Inferno Rules!
  • oryandymackie - February 6, 2010 6:26 p.m.

    Shame - given the source material, this game could have been epic, if not year-defining. Of course, this game is somewhat of a poisoned chalice in the first instance: the gamers will be disappointed if the final product sticks rigorously to the literature, and the bookworms will be disappointed if the game tears through the hallowed pages of DI and inserts unnecessary, beefy action into the mix. I think this could be an overlooked game, given that GR admitted that the creative player can string combos together - and we, GR, the great unwashed, will probably be used to repetitive level design and boringly same-y enemy types. 'The Sin Of Different Colour Type Enemies Is Still Rife Among Us' - Dante.
  • Ghidora - February 6, 2010 1:58 a.m.

    I think what he means by depressing Atmosphere, is that its simply not all that exciting to be there. Silent Hill 2 was depressing, but the character,story,and shocks made it interesting. An environment Like Hell, should keep the player glued to the controller with the endless parade of hardcore freak outs.
  • boxcar44 - February 5, 2010 6:52 p.m.

    Over all a very poor review, have someone go back and do it again
  • jackthemenace - February 5, 2010 6:50 p.m.

    i absolutely love this game, but the one qualm i have with it is the stu[pid difficulty level. zealot (normal) is way too easy, but hellish(hard) is absolutely impossible! there's too much of a difference in betweeen, which really gets on my nerves ¬_¬ toerh than that, brilliant game

Showing 1-20 of 47 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000

OR…

Connect with Facebook

Log in using Facebook to share comments, games, status update and other activity easily with your Facebook feed.