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- Reviewed on: PS3 (Also Available on Xbox 360, PC)
- From: Electronic Arts/Visceral Games
Dante's Inferno: Divine Edition Game Review
By Tim Janson
February 25, 2010
Dante's Inferno: Divine Edition Game Review
“Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the Straightfoward pathway had been lost.”
Those are the opening lines to Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, written seven hundred years ago, describing Dante’s journey through Hell. It is also the setting for this new action/RPG from Electronic Arts, strongly inspired by God of War. You play Dante, a Templar Knight, returning home from the Crusades only to find his beloved Beatrice murdered and her soul dragged down to Hell by Lucifer. Dante will have to fight his way through the nine circles of the Underworld to try and rescue Beatrice.
Your first challenge will be to fight Death itself and claim his powerful scythe for yourself, which becomes your primary weapon. As Dante battles Hell’s many minions, he collects their souls. Collected souls are used to purchase attack or defense upgrades and are implemented with various button combinations. These upgrades come in two forms: Holy and Unholy and gain increasing power as you advance in level. As you meet more powerful souls, such as historical figures Pontius Pilate, you have the opportunity to absolve them of their sins, releasing their souls to Heaven, or punish them by destroying them utterly. Absolving souls raises your holy level while punishment raises the unholy level. An even mix of both is needed to utilize the magic spells and relics you’ll find as you journey through the nine circles.
The enemies that Dante encounters are as vile and repugnant and one would expect to find in Hell. Demonic infants with swords for arms, lustful souls of prostitutes with scorpion stingers, bloated worms that can swallow Dante whole…and that’s in just the first few levels. Dante’s Inferno earns its mature rating with extreme amounts of gore, nudity, and disturbing imagery. Souls are scattered about, impaled on spikes, or spewed forth into rivers of fire. As you scale walls made of sinews, souls are trapped behind, pleading for release from their torment.
Each of level of Hell has its own design, which corresponds to its name such as Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Anger, and Heresy. You’ll not only need to rely on your fighting skills but also your puzzle-solving skills to navigate each level to completion. The Bosses are gigantic, dwarfing poor Dante. King Minos, the blind ruler of Limbo slams at you with fists and tentacles with spring forth from the ground; Cleopatra pulls monstrosities from her bulging breasts; and Cerebus, the three-headed guardian of Gluttony, vomits globs of bile.
While the advanced attack combos are nice, you’ll seldom need to use them on most enemies, as your standard attacks are more than enough to dispatch them with ease. Even most bosses can be defeated with basic attacks once you learn their patterns and what to avoid. Likewise most of the magic spells and relics are unnecessary except for those that can restore your health and magic meters. One hint: purchase those upgrades which enhance health, magic, and standard attacks first before buying the more complex combo attacks.
At times the game can become too enamored with puzzle sequences. Some can become frustratingly annoying and you get the idea they were tossed in to merely extend the gameplay artificially. Some puzzles such as the portal/floating platforms of Gluttony are so serene that they seem completely out of place in this horrific realm.
The controls are not as tight as one would hope for such a button-mashing game. Dante moves slightly forward when he attacks, even when using magic. If you are too close to the edge of a platform you’ll find yourself tumbling over the edge to your death. There is no way to adjust camera angles in the game leading to several instances of blind spots and jumps that are tough to negotiate.
Dante’s Inferno doesn’t break any new ground, but it does present a gaming environment that is often visually stunning not to mention often creepy and uncomfortable. The controls are a bit too loose to truly make the game a masterpiece but this is certainly the start to a strong series. The Divine Edition, exclusive to the PS3 includes a digital version of the poem, soundtrack, and some behind the scenes videos. There's also a coupon code for downloadable content, including a new costume, relic and prequel level, which will be available in March.