Dante’s Inferno Review

Go To Hell… or just straight to the bargain bin? We get down with the Devil on PS3.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, February 3, 2010

You can hijack towering demonic beasts of burden after beating them down and disposing of the original driver, employing their immense fists against both your opponents and any otherwise impassable doors. You can liberate health, mana and experience points from colour-coded fountains by hammering the circle button. You’ll regularly scale great rectangular strips of meshed netherworld wallpaper (adorned, in a pixellated but pleasing touch, with little 2D skits of wailing imprisoned Damned). Even Dante’s epileptic fit of a climbing animation is suspiciously Kratos-like.

Killing Death. A memorable opening gambit, no doubt about it.

Killing Death. A memorable opening gambit, no doubt about it.

Demon slaughter is achieved with the aid of just two weapons (plus a small assortment of spells): an enormous, extendable bone scythe, prised from the hands of Death himself at the climax of the tutorial, and a magic cross, left to Dante by his permanently topless wife Beatrice, whose diabolical abduction is your incentive to brave the labyrinths and furnaces of Lucifer’s domain.

The scythe delivers light, crowd-control whip-cracks on the horizontal axis and heavy, elephant-mashing blows on the vertical, while the crucifix blasts out fat, silvery after-images which lack the raw appeal of a melee tool but are equally high impact, whether at range or up-close. Both the scythe and the crucifix are mapped to face buttons, allowing you to flip smoothly from one to the other mid-combo, and both can be used in the air.

The result, on normal or “Zealot” difficulty, at least, is textbook, uninspired, less than elaborate but finely-tuned slicing and dicing. The auto-target is an occasional annoyance, thwarting your attempts to clear out small fry before cracking open the combo gauge on bigger fish, but given the narrow scope of each battleground and Dante’s generous reach, you’ll usually hit what you want to hit whether you’re facing it or not. Right-stick evasion is a cinch, as there are few uncancellable animations, and those attacks you can’t block are unambiguously plastered with SFX.

The game moves furthest away from the status of bastard son in the auxiliary mechanisms which structure the bloodshed. Each weapon has its own half of the upgrades tree, and is hot-wired interestingly to Inferno’s lightweight morality system. Exactly which new moves and stat hikes you can unlock with your experience points depends on your Holy or Unholy level, raised by absolving (good) or punishing (bad) the celebrity sinners who huddle, lamenting their lot, by the wayside.

Absolution is a rather forceful process.

Absolution is a rather forceful process.

Grab one such sinner, and you’ll get a sentence or two of historical gloss plus a few representative lines of dialogue on which to base your decision. There’s an engaging tension at times between the game’s quasi-Christian ethics and its inherited role-playing superstructure, as you weigh up what you feel a Soul deserves against the lust for new gameplay trinkets. More superficially, certain enemy types can be punished or absolved in the course of finishing moves or grabs for a much smaller Holy or Unholy points boost.

If you’re less interested in wrestling with your conscience than wresting unbeatable techniques out of that splashy, substantial combat firmament, you’re going to devote a lot more brain power to the item roster. Relics both divine and demonic in nature can be torn from the jaws of the gargoyles which populate the game’s few side-routes. You can equip two at once for some upgradeable benefits – damage reduction, to pick a boring example, and a longer pause before combo gauge reset, to pick a more interesting one.

8 Responses to “Dante’s Inferno Review”

  1. Cameron says:

    I must say that I’m dissapointed in your review of Dantes Inferno. Not because it was bad, but because you spent the whole thing comparing it to God of War. I can understand you wanting to compare the similarities between the two, but Inferno should be judged completely on its own merits.
    I for one have never played God of War, and quite frankly never want to. That said, Inferno excels in its cutscenes and art driection from what I’ve seen and played. And I look forward to playing the whole thing.
    If you want to compare the two games based on originality then you must remember that Inferno, (the poem) came out way before God of War did. So you should make it a point to say that God of War ripped off Dantes Inferno.
    My comment is not meant to blast you for your review, only to remind you that we depend on you to show us what the game offers. If the gameplay is uninspired, say so. If the graphics suck, let us know. But don’t waste your time or ours telling us how much this game may be like that one.
    Remember, everything old is new again, and in the entertainment industry, nothing is new.

    • Edwin says:

      I hear what you’re saying there, Cameron, but we’re talking about pretty damn comprehensive cross-over here. Dante’s Inferno’s merits are God of War’s merits, more or less. The only real major difference – setting and morality system aside – is that it isn’t quite as good.

      If I *had* tried to judge the game in isolation, those readers who *are* familiar with God of War would have taken me to task for it. After all, most people want to know how a new release stacks up against others in the genre, even when the title in question is on the unique side.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying it, mate. It’s a good, solid effort. Do give Kratos a chance, though – the God of War games are some of the best you’ll ever play.

      As regards the original Inferno – last time I checked, it wasn’t a linear hack-and-slasher with copious QTEs… :p

  2. zarbor says:

    It amazes me how people want to argue about the obvious. Any idiot can realize that this game is a God of War clone. A game considered my most (not all) to be a very good series.

    Dante Inferno should be flattered to be compared to such a game. I have no problem with the review besides the score. You gave this game more credit than it deserves. EA struck out with this one.

  3. Emofag says:

    Shut your mouth Zarbor.

  4. hah says:

    I just finished this game and I gotta agree, they stole from GoW by the buckets lol, but this isnt necessary bad – I wish there were more games like these, however unlike GoW games, Dante suffers from uninspired pacing in the second half that seriously drags the game down. First 3-4 hours, great. Last 3-4 hours, uughhh…
    I also wish they didn’t recycled the enemies so much, GoW2 has like triple the number of unique(not just different skin) of enemies.

    Instead of trying to release it before GoWIII, they should have iterated more, the potential was there.

  5. Nimrah says:

    Im reading up some reviews cos Dante’s story interests me and every time it ends up with the God of War being the best discussion, well how about this … if there is one big rip off, its God of War being an exact copy of Devil May Cray, now why dont we hear anything about that ?

    Im not saying god of war is bad, on the contrary, but ppl should stop the rip off discussion and view the games on it own, there was only one real revelation in this kind of game style wich also had a great story, and that was Devil May Cry 1 on the PS2, thats the pioneer in this genre and not at all god of war.

    So let this rip off discussions plz end, cos everyone who is telling god of war was original, should dig a bit deeper into the real genre history.

    Its a genre these days and not so much a copy mode of another game, so the games should be reviewed on that. Handling, story, pace, coop and fun, thats what matters.

  6. Kratos says:

    I know I am pretty late to this discussion but I just had to say that this game deserves its title as a Gow rip off.Its not because its in the same genre comparing Devil may cry to god of war is apples to oranges.Its just like the reviewer said this game is a clone down to the character animations and level design.I am torn while a copy and paste of this magnitude is downright shameful.GoW is a damn good series so even a as an inferior knock off this game is still good.I guess my biggest gripe was releasing so close to God of War 3 which is even more disrespecful since it attempts to compete with the game it rips off.It must have been pushed by microsoft so they could have a game like this on their console.If this game would have released a year or so before when people where starved for Kratos it would have done better sales wise and would have been little more accepted.

  7. Dipshit says:

    You’re all douchebags if your biggest worry is what game ripped what off. If the game is fun and worth 40 to 60 bucks then play it you fan boy faggots and stop crying. If you can’t review it as to whether it’s a good game to buy and play then shut the Fuck up.


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