Dante’s Inferno Burns Up the Playstation

Oswaldo Diaz

A typical save the princess story with a sinister twist that would give the weak of heart nightmares, “Dante’s Inferno” delivers what it promises: a dark and twisted thrill ride.

The game, published by “Electronic Arts,” follows the story of an ex-crusader, Dante, who descends into hell to bring back the soul of his fiancée Beatrice. Drawing from the original illustrations in the “Divine Comedy,” “Dante’s Inferno” paints a shocking and at times disturbing picture of how hell would look.

Following a medieval world-view of the Christian afterlife, in the game, hell is divided into nine circles. The circles are as follows from first to last: limbo, lust, gluttony, avarice and prodigality, wrath and sullenness, heresy, violence, and betrayal.

“Dante’s Inferno” falls under the hack-and-slash game category as you continuously battle against dozens of spawning enemies using the Grim Reaper’s scythe which you acquire early in the game. Dante’s other weapons include his throwing cross, for long distance attacks, and magic powers that are gained after defeating major characters in the game.

The level design on some of the circles of hell blow you away and actually live up to the idea they represent. In the circle of Lust certain elements in your surrounding like doors or pillars are shaped in such a way that they constantly remind, if not offend the player, in which circle of hell they are in. That, paired with enemies wearing revealing outfits, give you a sense of actually being in the circle of lust.

Another level that stands out is the circle of limbo, where according to old Christian faith children who died before being baptized would reside. This brings us to one of the strangest moments in the game, where a toddler rolls out of a cradle and stumbles slowly toward Dante. At this point the player does not know what to make of the situation, and hesitates to attack.

However, it quickly becomes clear what the objective is once the toddler begins attacking the player. Needless to say, the toddler will finally rest in peace. Moments like these resonate within the player and provide a sense of confusion and shock.
Gamers who consider hack-and-slash games dull and repetitive will be pleasantly surprised by the level of depth in “Dante’s Inferno.” Mashing one button and repeating one combo will work for the player in the first fourth of the game, but after that upgrading your scythe, cross and combos becomes a necessity as enemies grow increasingly challenging. Upgrading requires souls which are released every time an enemy is destroyed.

Additional souls are granted when you run into characters form ancient history or folk like Orpheus or Pontius Pilate. These characters are often hidden and to extract their souls the player must decide weather to absolve them or punish them for their sins.

Absolving an enemy or one of these characters will fill Dante’s holy bar, which unlocks a set of unique abilities. On the other hand, if the player decides to punish them instead, they will fill the unholy bar which unlocks a different set of abilities. Whatever path the player chooses will not impact the outcome of the story. However , committing to being completely good or completely evil will hinder you in the long run as both sides contain precious upgrades that are needed to battle fierce opponents later in the game.

Although the game does a great job in amazing the player with its surreal environments early in the game, the game-play falls flat toward the middle. What was once a spectacle of enemies and scenery turns into a tedious crusade that has the player doing nothing but advancing slowly through bland environments hacking its way through familiar enemies.

During this middle section of the game, it is hard to tell in which circle of hell Dante is in given the dullness of the levels. However, the action picks up towards the end as you approach the final enemy the devil himself.

The story ends with a surprise twist that could lead in into the sequel. Considering how well the game was received it should not come as a surprise to see future incarnations of the series.

After completing the game the player unlocks hellish mode, which is the hardest level of difficulty available. The game also allows for the player to start a new game with all the upgrades and items collected from a previous run. This allows for fighting chance when trying to conquer harder difficulties which are agonizingly painful to go through if one would have to start from scratch. Downloadable content that features cooperative game-play and a new character by the name of St. Lucia was released on April 29.

Dante’s Inferno is a welcome change as video games have recently taken a more realistic approach. It is action-packed with a highly imaginative story line featuring jaw-dropping scenarios and a wide variety of enemies. Although sometimes dull “Dante’s Inferno” is overall a great game with excellent re-play value.

Available at any video game retailer for $59.99, “Dante’s Inferno” is rated M for mature. For more information visit http://www.dantesinferno.com/

For its excellent, but at times dull environments, immersive game-play, shock value and deep battle mechanics Dante’s Inferno gets my rating of four stars out
of five.