Dante's Inferno - Xbox 360

It’s been kind of amazing following Dante’s Inferno through the months before its actual release. I don’t think I’ve seen a marketing campaign that so consistently angered people. The basic idea was sound – have a different marketing gimmick for each circle of hell. Almost each and every one of them was met with hostility and controversy. Seriously it wasn’t just one of them. Damn near all of them had people going “What are these assholes doing?” Well, if the goal was to get people talking about their game, then mission accomplished.

So is this a game that’s actually worth talking about? Well once you get over how incredible that segue way was, click onwards and find out.

Now I’ve never actually read the epic poem upon which Dante’s Inferno is based. I’m certainly familiar with it, but have not sat and read through it start to finish. Despite that, I think I can safely assume that this game takes a few liberties with the story. I would guess the poem does not kick off with Dante murdering Death by stabbing him in the face with his own scythe while Death (Death!) begs for mercy from him. And that’s one of the first things you do!

So this is within the first five minutes of the game. By the time you reach the end of the first hour, you will have encountered: the aforementioned murder of death, boobs, unbaptized demon babies with knives for arms, moaning women monsters who have snakes coming out of their vaginas, faces puking out people, and an 80-foot tall topless Cleopatra who shoots the demon babies out of her nipples, before she vomits out Marc Antony, who you then have to fight.

Are you sold yet?

It really seems as though the developers looked at the poem and said to themselves “Well the source material is great, but this shit needs to be more HARDCORE!” I seriously think this team should start adapting even more classic literary works into video games. I bet Oliver Twist’s “Please sir, I want some more” can be turned into a pretty badass one-liner. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Atticus Finch get things done with his fists instead of his words. The possibilities really are endless.

Anyway I guess we should move on and discuss the actual game. First off, anyone who had made the comparison to God of War, well your comparison is just. This game is frightenly similar to the God of War series. I doubt they would deny it for a second either. I’m not at all outraged about it though, which some people seem to be. God of War in hell? And with topless giant women and vagina snakes? Sign me up sir.

The biggest draw for me was the idea of running around in hell. I was very intrigued about how they would actually depict hell, since I can’t think of many games that spend their entire running time there. Well they did not disappoint. They truly depicted hell exactly as it should be – the worst fucking place you could ever imagine. I think parents should give this to their children to play and just tell them “Behave or else this is where you’re going. You want to get sliced up by those nipple babies? That’s what I thought. Clean your room!” Guaranteed the child never acts up again. So kudos to the game for really depicting hell as well, hell.

One thing I do have to question – why the hell are there box puzzles in hell? Whose design decision was that? Did they actually have the foresight to think “well if one day some dude comes down to find his wife this should hold him up for a few minutes.” It’s just such an odd choice on the Devil’s part.

The sound goes right along with the visuals in painting a bleak picture of what hell could be. I would say for 80% of the game, you can hear the screaming of tortured souls and while it’s definitely atmospheric, it becomes a little much. I’m sure that’s exactly what goes on down there, but in a video game it becomes a tad exhausting to have to listen to that constantly.

Hell may be great to look at, but that doesn’t mean a thing if it isn’t fun to run around in. For the most part the game plays well, although there are certainly a few things I could have easily done without. The combat is fast, smooth, and fun as…*sigh* hell. And yes, it’s very God of War-sy.

Your primary weapon is a scythe, which of course is the one you stole from Death after you murdered him with it. You can also shoot crosses, which by the end of the game are so powerful you can basically spam the shoot button and burn through things with ease. There are also various magic spells you can equip, as well as relics, which give you various new abilities. I wouldn’t say there’s anything revolutionary on display here, but it’s all solid fun.

There is some platforming to be done as well, usually between each circle when you have to make your way to the next one by climbing down ropes and dodging fire. These weren’t my favourite parts of the game but at least they are over quick. The puzzles are few and far between and aside from one involving portals, they are all fairly easy to complete.

The emphasis is definitely on the combat here, which works because it is the strongest aspect of the gameplay and while fun, it starts to wear out its welcome by the end. And if by chance you haven’t grown a little tired of the combat by the end, then the game pretty much tries to make sure it does.

You see one of the final circles of hell (Fraud) is nothing more than standing inside the same circle and fighting off enemies. Each time you have a new task such as “Stay in the air for 8 seconds” or “Kill all enemies without blocking.” It’s not really that hard, just insanely repetitive. The worst part is that there are ten of these tasks to complete! I didn’t want to continue on after the first one. It completely kills any and all momentum the game builds off and just becomes an exercise in tedium.

My other complaint, and this isn’t really the combat’s fault so I won’t blame him, is that the enemies are hugely repetitive. You fight the same ones throughout the entire game, with maybe minor tweaks here and there. The boss fights are a little underwhelming as well, with a couple of exceptions, both of which happen fairly early on.

Dante’s Inferno is worth a play through if only to see the depiction of hell and to experience all the crazy shit the game throws at you right out of the gate. I think once God of War III comes out this game will cease to exist in a lot of people’s memory but I think it’s definitely worth a look. Now let’s see what these guys can do with Moby Dick.