It takes a certain something appreciate the qualities that one object may possess. This couldn’t be more apparent in Dante’s Inferno, a combat oriented action game, somewhat rooted in the classic poem. Dante’s Inferno strives to clash weapons with the big boys, but well falls short of genre’s incredibly high standard. Whether it is blatant stealing or sub-standard action, this game shouldn’t be mentioned with the greats and should be stuffed back into Hell.
I’ll be honest, I never read the base poem but I have a hard time believing that this game was tightly knit with the story of the literature. That isn’t a big deal and I’m all for creative freedom, but I don’t know if I ever want to read the poem given how terrible the story is in this game. Comic-style flash backs, that admittedly look cool, tell the backstory of the Dante and his ugly past but it is extremely difficult to care. Dante is sort of an unlikable dumbass and constantly bellows stupidity from his mouth. I laughed every time he shouted, “BEAAATRRIICCE!” because it was so overly dramatic and he seems to do it at the slightest mention of her name. Satan pops up every so often to tantalize you and get you to go deeper into Hell but it is hard to overly despise him, despite him being the ultimate evil. No one is properly humanized or relatable so the story is about a bunch of people no one cares about.
I don’t want to go to Hell. Besides the fact of eternal torture and having everything be on fire, everything in Hell is hideous. Most environments are plagued with low resolution textures that look muddy and character models for all but a few creatures are ugly. Minions of Hell should look beautifully disgusting rather than technically disgusting. Gross characters are bad but the worst offenders in the technical department are the walls and liquids, which are horrendous looking. It sounds small, I know, but at the rate where these arise just shoves it in your face to make you see how terrible it looks. Climbable walls and all boiling liquids (more on that later) contain damned souls moving around but they are only a few frames of animation on a two dimensional image. It is awful and distracting. The details may had to take a hit, due to maintaining 60 frames per second, but that is a poor excuse seeing as other combat games have wonderfully rendered environments and characters at the same frame rate.
The game may look okay in some of the nine circles of Hell, with Limbo and Gluttony being highlights, but the game quickly loses creativity. Dante’s Inferno opens fairly strong with you killing Death in a good boss battle and snatching his signature scythe as your own. Dante then descends into Limbo: a dark place with a fittingly disgusting boss battle that gives a good climax to that particular circle. Sadly, this is when the game starts to crumble. From there, you go to Lust, in which you are greeted by a giant penis tower that emerges from the ground. When you arrive inside, there are vagina spawn holes and more penis towers inside the one you are already in. I peeked at the concept art for the level and it seemed the stray away from the blatant thoughtlessness, but wasn’t apparent in the game at all. All of it is immature and tasteless, as it seems like the developers thought they could throw genitalia on the walls and call it a day. Even the killing move for the boss battle, Cleopatra, is incredibly immature and stupid. Dante fatally penetrates her sexually with his blade. Yeah.
Besides Gluttony being appropriately gross, the game stumbles downhill from there. Every lame circle devolves into different boiling liquid with the damned helplessly swimming in it. I was getting to a point where I would guess the color of the liquid of the next circle. What color is Violence? Red like blood! What about Greed? Gold like money! Level design degrades as the game goes on getting to the point where the penultimate circle are linear, circular platforms with tedious challenges. I almost don’t think that circle couldn’t have gotten less thought. Thankfully the final circle strays from poorly animated liquids, but cashes that in for a part literally (and I mean literally) robbed from God of War II. Imagine this section but made to piss players off and make it cheap. Wrap that up with some bad tip toeing (you’ll understand when you get there) and a repetitive boss battle with Satan (complete with flopping penis that hangs to his knees) and it ends up being an unsatisfying experience.
Dante’s Inferno tries to make a name for itself as a combat game and it mostly doesn’t hold up. The combat isn’t all bad, just below average to okay at best. Relics and other RPG like elements are applied well, as you can spec Dante to your fighting style and upgrade to your preferred path. Although sloppy from a logical perspective, upgrading the evil or good path is a good alternative way to play how you want. If you can get over the fact that Dante shouldn’t be the person absolving or punishing these people (Who is he? God?), the experience funnels into a easy skill tree to add new abilities and make the current ones stronger. Giving it the RPG mechanics saves the combat from being a total mess.
This is about where my praise stops as almost everything else about playing the game disassembles. Platforming isn’t sticky or automated much, meaning Dante’s butterfingers can’t grab on to most platforms so falling to your death is common. Given how terrible the checkpoints are, you’ll be falling more and playing more of this game than you should want to. The tip toeing part mentioned earlier is almost a controller-throwing moment as it combines the two previous complaints.
Combat can seldom be thrilling but it comes with its caveats. Only a few moves can be linked together so a lot of the combos end early or you can only do the same combo time and time again. A huge detriment, as the fun from these types of games derives from being able to think of new moves to pull of in quick succession. Combat grows stale because of this issue which is a bummer considering it is in the hack and slash genre.
I’m trying to figure out why this game exists. The ugly game isn’t doing a great job of staying with action greats but more of a pushover in the genre. If anything, it made me realize what I take for granted with other, better games. With all of it’s flaws, I wonder if Satan himself is ashamed of a game like this with his name attached to it. Dante’s Inferno isn’t a totally lost game but it must be Hell itself to give time to this instead of other action games.
+Combat can be okay
+RPG mechanics are good
+A couple circles are creative
-Combat can get monotonous
-Most levels aren’t inspired
Final Score: 6.5/10