While Dante slices through the belly of an undead beast with his razor-sharp scythe, traverses a crumbling bridge with a quick-time event, and overthrows the ruler of a damned land with vicious determination, a burst of familiarity might flash through your mind. From the gothic art style and the vengeance-fueled story to the stationary camera clearly displaying the blood-splattering combat, Dante's Inferno is a wholesale imitation of the superb God of War series. Or, at the very least, it's desperately trying to be. Unfortunately, the impression lasts for only the first few hours. What starts as a fast-paced and epic quest to destroy Lucifer in an underworld populated by grotesque and disfigured beings, devolves into a monotonous and downright predictable hack-and-slash. Dante's Inferno gets close enough to its source material to make for a gory and satisfying few hours in hell, but its many flaws prevent it from rising to paradise.
6249246>Gluttony may be the grossest sin.None
The lesson delivered by Dante's Inferno is one every person should keep in mind: Do not, under any circumstance, make a deal with the devil. You will lose, and you may not be handy enough with a scythe to hack your way out of the mess you create. In this case, Beatrice thought too highly of her husband Dante's moral character. Worried that he would lose his life while liberating heathens during his holy crusade, she comes to an agreement with Lucifer. If he stays faithful, the devil will ensure that he makes it home alive. If he loses control with a seductive slave girl, though, Beatrice will forfeit her own soul forever. The story is told using three distinct styles to chronicle Dante's descent into darkness to rescue the eternal spirit of his betrayed wife. The CGI and in-game cutscenes are expected, but it is the series of sparsely animated cartoons that stand out. These fill in the backstory of Dante's actions during the crusades and go a long way toward developing his character. The story has few surprises, but the manner in which it slowly puts Dante's entire life into perspective makes for an interesting setup for his adventure.
And the adventure does start out on a strong note. The first few hours have an epic scale that makes the descent from the earthly plain into the pits of hell feel like a momentous transition. Pathways crumble underfoot, threatening to spill you into the bubbling lava below; gargantuan creatures loom in the distance, tossing out taunts as you make you way through their defenses; and horrible abominations are introduced every few minutes. The vile enemies you battle are modeled on the circles of hell, and they do an impressive job of embodying these contemptible sins. Lust, for instance, is populated by prostitutes who were all too willing to sell their bodies while they were alive, and they are punished by having their souls sold in the afterlife. The typical anatomy of these women of ill repute is grossly exaggerated, and though you'll certainly want to avoid their disgusting makeshift lassos, their presence makes for a disturbing trip to the land of the damned.
Dracula isn't the only evildoer who's vulnerable to crucifix attacks.
In the early stages, you will battle a number of horrific caricatures. The prostitutes of lust are followed by obese monsters who do a fine (yet gross) job of personifying gluttony, and an army of blade babies who haven't been baptized are sure to get a rise out of even the most jaded individuals. But these disgusting portrayals of the deadly sins are soon forgotten as you get deeper into your quest. After the shocking imagery used in the early going, you have only knights and wizards to look forward to, which lack the appeal of the repulsive enemies that precede them. In fact, the only memorable foes in the entire game are introduced within the first couple of hours, making the rest of the adventure much less interesting and far more predictable. Furthermore, although it makes sense that the circle of gluttony would be populated by grossly obese individuals, the fact that they pop up in heresy, anger, and every other circle doesn't mesh with the rules set in place.
The level design follows a similar descent into banality. What starts as epic and explosive soon becomes repetitive. Too much of Dante's Inferno takes place in confined rooms that don't hint at the huge world you're in, which lowers much of the impact of clawing your way through the netherworld. The puzzles that crop up only serve to artificially slow your progress rather than give you a worthwhile change of pace from the violent combat. Much of the time, endurance is the only tool you will need to complete these tests. Box-dragging or crank-turning puzzles aren't fun or mind-bending challenges. Rather they are just time wasters and only detract from the experience. The few times that they do force you to think only reinforce the poor design of these puzzles. Difficulty only exists because the camera either doesn't show you what you need to see or highlights an area that is not important.