Dante's Inferno (Video Game)
Reviewed by Mr. Dark
Available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (reviewed), PC
Published by EA Games
Vast rivers of filth, giant women with knife-armed zombie babies coming out of their nipples, the howling screams of the damned. No, it isn't Uncle Creepy's rec room; it's Dante's Inferno. This is absolutely not the classic poem you might be familiar with. Visceral Games has taken many of the elements of Aligheri's masterpiece and created a new, intense action/horror title that more than lives up to its potential.
Let's address the large elephant in the middle of the room (which also has nipples, oddly enough): Yes, functionally the game mimics God of War almost completely. If you've played God of War, you'll pick this up right away. Is it a 'rip-off'? Absolutely not. If it is, then I'd like to introduce GoW's Kratos to a little franchise called Devil May Cry. It's a simple evolution, another game in a similar genre. No more, no less.
The combat isn't where Dante's excels, although it's certainly serviceable. The combat is fun, but the game really shines in its story art. This game is an artistic masterpiece. Every corner you turn reveals another jaw-dropping vista of absolute horror.
The story has Dante no longer as a poet observing the horrors of hell, but rather as a Crusader ass-kicker damned for his actions. Too badass to settle for that, he offs Death, steals his scythe, and then rides home to find his beloved dead. In moments she's whisked away by a demonic force, and Bob's your uncle, we're at the gates of Hell. Dante wants his woman, Beatrice, and dammit he's going to scythe the living crap out of anything in his way.
Along the way we visit most of the major highlights of the original poem. Virgil is still the guide, the circles are the same, and many of the minor characters referenced appear as souls for Dante to punish or absolve. Each level of Hell is designed to match Dante's descriptions, embellished in suitably grotesque ways.
This is HELL, and the game never lets you forget it. Dante's Inferno contains some of the most graphically adult images I've seen in a game not rated A. There's a featurette on the Divine Edition (a must-buy if you have a PS3) that discusses the work that went into animating Lucifer's penis, if that gives you any idea. It's the brilliant detail to all of the design work here, even the most disgusting elements, that makes this game shine. Immense amounts of work had to have gone into animating walls of the damned, giant creatures (including nipple-woman in the Lust circle) and dizzying spires. It's just a luscious piece of work.
There are also some very nice gameplay touches, such as a skill tree you build by either absolving or punishing spirits and enemies and artifacts you can find that will provide boosts. It allows you to modify the way you play the game to suit your needs, a welcome touch to the otherwise simple button-mashing action.
There's a lot to enjoy here. Even better is the previously mentioned Divine Edition, exclusive to the PS3. There are as many special features and featurettes on this BD-ROM than any mainstream Blu-ray DVD release. With videos, commentary, concept art, tons of information on Dante Aligheri, and even a complete digital version of the original poem, this package is what all modern AAA titles should be.
If you're willing to bear with some slightly repetitious combat and a couple of bad platforming sections, this is a very solid horror title. Do yourself a favor and go to Hell.
4 out of 5
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