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Michael Kontoudis
06 Feb, 2010

Dante's Inferno Review

PS3 Review | Is it Divine, or unwittingly Comedic?
After months of indifference and skepticism, Dante’s Inferno has finally arrived. The hack-and-slash action title developed by Visceral Games (of Dead Space fame) has been largely written off as a shameless facsimile of Sony’s own venerable God of War franchise, and indeed, it is not difficult to see why. But as Visceral Games proved with Dead Space, itself indebted to Capcom’s Resident Evil series, clever borrowing can often yield exciting results. So the question remains: is Dante’s Inferno a soulless rip-off condemned to wander the circles of Hell, or is it a good enough game to transcend its lack of originality and stand side by side with Kratos and company?


Religious iconography abounds, but there is little sacred or respectful about Dante's Inferno.

Religious iconography abounds, but there is little sacred or respectful about Dante's Inferno.
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As previously detailed in our preview, Dante’s Inferno is based on the classic, epic poem by renown Florentine, Dante Alighieri. Although it may be more accurate to say that the game adapts the poem in its basest, most literal form. Eschewing any of the social commentary and lyricism of the source material, Visceral Games has produced a game starring an angry little man from the Crusades who descends into hell armed with Death’s scythe to hack a path through unbaptised babies and drooling demons in pursuit of his bare-breasted love, Beatrice, whose soul has been stolen away by Lucifer himself. The game’s narrative is utterly disposable, and the amount of liberties Visceral Games has taken with the source material is irksome to say the least; this is Todd MacFarlane or Frank Miller’s Dante’s Inferno, not Alighieri’s, and it is clear that Visceral Games cares very little for the source material. Quotes from the text appear on screen after every death and are devoid of context; Virgil the poet is reduced to a lame hologram, and the poem’s major players are cast as enormous boss monsters which eject demon infants from their exposed nipples.

The sheer tackiness of the game’s narrative extends further, pervading its entire presentation. The depths to which the game is willing to steep to shock or convey its apparent ‘maturity’ cannot be described, suffice to say that there are more gratuitously exposed breasts and depictions of genitalia in Dante’s Inferno than any other game one would care to mention. Technically, the nine circles of Hell are well-rendered and suitably depressing, consisting of slick, writhing masses of tortured souls and puddles of bile and lava. The game’s engine performs well under pressure, too, rendering dozens of enemies and a host of particle effects without any noticeable drop in frame rate. But after a handful of levels, the artistic design begins to wear thin, and Visceral Games has struggled to make Hell a consistently inspiring locale. Overall, there’s something distinctly unpleasant about the aesthetics of Dante’s Inferno which are, on the whole, a mixed bag. For every chilling, haunting orchestral accompaniment, there is a line of horrid voice acting which is either self-serious to the point of parody or replete with trite, anachronistic slang. For every towering, bump-mapped boss character there is a spindly, pathetic imp comprised of four polygons. The game is quick, smooth, but often bland and charmless.


Particle effects and fast-paced combat are among the game's biggest strengths.

Particle effects and fast-paced combat are among the game's biggest strengths.
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While it would be easy to think from the preceding paragraphs that Dante’s Inferno is nothing but a crude misfire, such is not the case when the controller is in hand. Anyone familiar with the mechanics of God of War will immediately know how to play Dante’s Inferno without the aid of any sort of tutorial whatsoever. Dante has access to light attacks, heavy attacks, a grab, an evasive maneuver and magical abilities, and these abilities work in tandem to create a playing experience with the pace, intensity and rhythm of its closest competitor. It’s also an easy game to play, not in terms of its difficulty but in its quest to consistently engage and challenge the player with new enemies, set-pieces and lightweight puzzles. If not for the repetitive artistic design, Dante’s Inferno would be faultless in terms of pacing, and while its highs never approach the quality of its competitors, there is nary a dull moment to be found if one takes to the basic mechanics. Controlling Dante is an intuitive, silky experience and the combat system itself is fun despite its rudimentary nature. Visceral Games has attempted to infuse some depth into the proceedings by way of an extensive upgrade system which allows Dante to augment his abilities in either ‘holy’ or ‘unholy varieties’, and some segments which allow him to take the reins of an enormous, infernal beast, but by and large players will be using the same basic combos and powers throughout the majority of the adventure. Clearly, Dante’s Inferno is not a technical hack-and-slash to challenge the devotees of Bayonetta or Ninja Gaiden; it’s joys are baser than that, but arguably no less fun and certainly a great deal more accessible. The only real blight on the title's minutet-minute gameplay is its fascination with ‘quick time events’ as popularized by Resident Evil 4, Shenmue and God of War, which at times borders on amour fou on the part of Visceral Games. From ‘punishing’ or ‘absolving’ your foes to opening a door or collecting health or magic, players will be hammering buttons to the tune of on-screen icons for the game’s duration. It’s a wonder one doesn’t need to hammer a button to have Dante put on his underpants, and most gamers will feel the onset of carpal tunnel long before the end credits.

I'm fairly certain that this segment involved a quick time event of some sort..

I'm fairly certain that this segment involved a quick time event of some sort..
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Luckily, Dante’s Inferno is none too long and concludes before wearing out its welcome or causing your thumbs to snap off. Clocking in at around a dozen hours of playing time on the default difficulty level, there is certainly enough game for players to sink their teeth into, and multiple difficulty levels, unlockable bonuses and the promise of downloadable content (which is alluded to on just about every menu screen) make Dante’s Inferno a decent long-term prospect.

While Visceral Games was able to take the core elements of Resident Evil and fashion them into a product which arguably superseded its inspiration, this is a feat which it has sadly been unable to replicate. As a whole, Dante’s Inferno fails to do enough to compete the giants of the genre; a full measure of its worth may not become apparent until God of War III arrives later next month, but on its own merits Dante’s Inferno is still a solid, enjoyable, albeit unspectacular game. It may not boast the creative gusto or sophistication which elevates its competition, but it is well-paced, accessible and technically-competent. It is destined to be forgotten in the months to come, but if you can handle its often ugly and exploitative nature there is still a fundamentally good time to be had in Hell.
The Score
Dante’s Inferno is an enjoyable and technically impressive action game which is otherwise blighted by its unappealing aesthetics and wholesale lack of originality.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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29 Comments
4 years ago
Unfortunately I just don't like the basis for the game. Being set in such an ugly place just doesn't make me want to play it at all. I enjoyed Dead Space and I'm sure this game is fun to play, just the story, aesthetics and graphics put me way off it. God of War was set in ancient Greece and had some great environments but this seems like it just one long fight through mud. That and it's a pretty lame take on a classic poem.

Oh well maybe a bargain bin buy. Best of luck for the studio in the future though, as they are extremely talented.
4 years ago
I thought this was going to be great as I loved Dead Space but this game was disappointing. I had preordered it but took it back the next day. Only got through the lust, and 1/2 the greed level but just wasn't that impressed. Very patchy with some really good bits and other frustrating or boring parts. Dito for the graphics.
4 years ago
PALGN wrote
Dante’s Inferno is an enjoyable and technically impressive action game which is otherwise blighted by its unappealing aesthetics and wholesale lack of originality.
Yet you gave Darksiders a 9? I finished the demo (for Dante's Inferno) and thought EA was susceptible to litigation from SCEA however when I remember my time with Darksiders I thought: "Wow! Devil May Cry without the fun."

Darksiders sucks! I'm sure this does too. Both games ripped off quality franchises and didn't deliver quality gameplay.
4 years ago
^I've played through and finished both Darksiders and Dante's Inferno, and I would definitely consider Dante's Inferno quite inferior.

I suppose it comes down to personal opinion, as it always does, but I found Darksiders to be fun in the way it melded the various genres together. Sure, it was God of War meets Zelda, but while I was scoffing at every rip-off, I was enjoying myself immensely. For me, it just felt cohesive, as story was interesting, the gameplay was fun and the challenge level was just right.

Dante's Inferno on the other hand was a bit of a long slog to get through. Dante felt indestructible, and his move-list was virtually identical to Kratos. The only addition really was the 'absolve' or 'punish' system, which basically forces you to engage in those time-consuming quicktime-event finishing moves if you want to level up your powers. The other thing that annoyed me about Dante's Inferno is how it didn't have to be so derivative. Dante gets a scythe - awesome - but it magically extends to act just like Kratos' chains. Darksiders seemed to justify its influences much more, although I'll admit the Portal gun was stretching things.

Out of the two apocalyptic hell-fire action games, I'd go with Darksiders every time.
4 years ago
a dozen hours = 12 hours?

i somehow dont believe it
4 years ago
The game rules. And 7.5 is a great score on Palgn's scale.
4 years ago
i dont think darksiders and devil may cry are even close to being comparable. How much of it did you even play? Like not even close
4 years ago
el_supraman wrote
i dont think darksiders and devil may cry are even close to being comparable. How much of it did you even play? Like not even close
I played the first 3 hours. The games have many comparable elements:
Combat - Emphasis on combos and dodges. Player unlocks new weapons as story progresses or with the use of in game currency. Player unlocks new moves with in game currency.
Exploration - Linear, parts of areas are made inaccessible until new items are acquired.
Artistic/Narrative Element - Dante is half-devil, half-human one man army battling his own kind. Dante enlists the aids of devils and humans in his war against evil (Mundus, Virgil, Creepy Church Dude etc) War is Horseman of the Apocalypse made outcast for his supposed actions, turns one man army to clear his name. He enlists help of demons to battle demons.
Both games feature gothic and apocalyptic (DMC 2&3) art themes.

With those elements alone I think I have proved that there is basis for comparison. Like I said the main difference between the two is that DMC is actually fun(except for DMC2). Similar comparisons could be made for the GoW=Darksiders argument. Your counter?
4 years ago
Sorry to double post, but even the little nuances:
In DMC you can smash inanimate objects to obtain in game currency (red orbs). In Darksiders you smash inanimate objects to obtain in game currency (souls).

How does DMC win this one? Well, why would a park bench have a soul? Or a car, or a bin? Maybe they're hiding in there for fear of retribution?

Alternate form - When Dante slays enough enemies he can turn into Devil form which increases speed, power and regenerates health. In Darksiders when you slay enough enemies you can turn into your alternate form which at the very least increases the power of your attacks.

How does DMC win this one? It doesn't really, both were pretty cool (I only tested War's alternate form once). Devil form from DMC1 possibly wins because Alastor and Ifrit had their own specific moves.

So once again, basis for comparison. Your turn.
4 years ago
Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
A man is born, he's a man of means.
Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.

But they got, Diff'rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.

Everybody's got a special kind of story
Everybody finds a way to shine,
It don't matter that you got not alot
So what,
They'll have theirs, and you'll have yours, and I'll have mine.
And together we'll be fine....

Because it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
Yes it does.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
4 years ago
Nice, rhymes
4 years ago
haha wow you took that very seriously lol. Sorry its just devil may cry is not a game that it should be compared to. It may have some similarities as they are both action games, but that is to be expected. Hey halo and cod both use guns, both level up in multiplayer etc doesnt mean they should be compared.

God of war is so much more comparable and obviously if you only played a couple of hours you did not get into the meat of the game. Did you go into the twilight cathedral (I think thats the name) if so you would see that it is pretty much a copy of a zelda dungeon. Like almost exactly. You use a boomerang and some puzzles I swear are just copied straight out of that game.

Sure war isnt an elf looking thing, but I was referring to gameplay. It is zelda with god of war fighting. You upgrade your moves with in game currency in god of war.

Exploration...really? You think an open world game is the same as one that has X number of levels? You think needing to find an item to unlock part of a level is more dmc than zelda?

DMC main appeal is that it has stylised combat while that little B or O that appears over the head of an enemy is the exact same one that appears in God of war. Smashing items for power ups. What game dont you do that in? Turning into an alternate form in darksiders is again much more like GOW than it is DMC.

In conclusion darksiders is just like zelda and GOW like the devs said like the reviews have said and like everyone else has said. Its also funny because DMC is obviously comparable to Bayonetta which came out the same day as darksiders. I can say that GOW is like bayonetta and come up with arguments, but why when its obviously inspired by DMC.

Ps - I think darksiders is much better than dmc (IMO) and if you played it and didnt get into the first dungeon i suggest you do and find out what the game is about and that is a very good zelda clone and anything zelda-ish is good in my books. If you still think im wrong read the palgn review of darksiders and you will see extensive use of the words zelda and god of war and i highly doubt you will see a devil crying at all

end rant
4 years ago
Nice retort but you missed the point of my initial comment (my posts didn't exactly help either): The staff at PALGN have penalised Dante's Inferno for it's lack of originality whereas Darksiders is also derivative, in fact it is the most derivative game I've played in years.

Just because GoW is also similar to Darksiders does not mean that DMC and Darksiders are not comparable. Remember your initial comment? DMC and Bayonetta have a plethora of similarities because the producer of the original DMC is the main creative force behind Bayonetta.
4 years ago
What I will say in favour of Darksiders is that at least it copied two very different games; there is some originality in the mash-up!
4 years ago
Whatever happened to a game being good fun? Since when does it have to be the most original game in the world to achieve its goal of being an entertaining experience for the user?

Lighten up and refrain from taking it so seriously, hell its just a game! (See what i did there?!) Some of these game discussions are starting to sound far too much like pretentious over the top movie reviewers that nitpick the smallest things that most folk dont need to think about.

If you know something works why not try and emulate some of the games better features and improve them with some ideas of your own - isnt that what sequels are all about? And we dont go condemning sequels for being unoriginal.

Now play nice!! icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
But if God of War 3 ends up being just a graphical update of Gow of War 1/2 then it will game of the year contender I'm sure.

The media just loves playing favourites.
4 years ago
I don't see it as matter of playing favourites at all; as stated in the text of the review, Dante's Inferno is a facsimile of the God of War template while being slightly inferior in every way.

Having only played the demo of God of War III, I am unable to attest to its quality, but assuming that it delivers on its promise of refined mechanics and improved set pieces (which it may or may not do), it will be vastly superior to Dante's Inferno.

Make no mistake; Dante's Inferno is not as good as either God of War or its sequel. Even if God of War III was just a high definition update with little to no enhancements, it would still, by default, be better than Dante's Inferno.

It's less a case of playing favourites than it is assessing merit. I'm sure everyone at PALGN would have loved Dante's Inferno to represent the pinnacle of the genre and best God of War at its own game; it has simply failed to do so.
4 years ago
Michael Kontoudis wrote
I don't see it as matter of playing favourites at all; as stated in the text of the review, Dante's Inferno is a facsimile of the God of War template while being slightly inferior in every way.
Assuming Michael that you had not played GoW before, do you think Dante's Inferno would have scored higher?

I haven't played the GoW games yet (I need a new PS2), so I have no basis for comparison, but so far I am really enjoying Inferno. The setting for me is highly appealing in the respect that retains a horror-esque feel, whilst the button mashing is just like any classic beat-em-up.

I do agree that I wish the absolving and the fountains didn't have to be included in the button mashing, but overall the control scheme feels intuitive and the learning curve of new abilities is much easier to take on than some other titles I've played in recent memory.

Given that 'Dante's Inferno' was a different direction for Visceral after 'Dead Space', a 7.5 is a great score. I guess the hardest problem for games that are released in the same vein as major franchises, will suffer the comparison debate, and with general favour for the latter, it just makes it all the more difficult to find it's own footing.

Just my thoughts.
4 years ago
It is difficult to assess Dante's Inferno in a vacuum; it falters in direct comparison with its competition, but as alluded to in the text, as a standalone title it is still quite good. Would our overall impression of it have been higher if it was the first game of its kind? Probably, yes.
4 years ago
Moistflaps wrote
Lighten up and refrain from taking it so seriously, hell its just a game! (See what i did there?!) Some of these game discussions are starting to sound far too much like pretentious over the top movie reviewers that nitpick the smallest things that most folk dont need to think about.
Hang on there! It costs about $15 to see a movie as opposed to $100 to buy and play a game. If I want a little bit of depth and "pretention," in my game reviews then that is my business.

I had a huge problem with PALGN's "Love to Hate," articles as they showed the courage to criticize universally acclaimed titles several years after a game's initial release. Where was that courage when the game first came out? Is it because no one cared about Braid and Shadow of the Colossus any longer? I personally would love to see some more depth of discussion when a game is initially released. If it still gets a 9, great.

Just one more thing, it is not just a game! Why are people lobbying for an R18+ rating for games? Because games can make meaningful statements, they can allow us to do things we can't normally do. They make us do things we would not normally want to do (Being forced to watch the execution of a loved one in "The Darkness," is particularly memorable). We interact with characters, develop meaningful relationships, we battle evil and we compete with our mates. Last night in the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 demo I saw someone tear through an enemy base on a quad bike and destroy it from the inside out. My bet is, that guy/girl is no commando in real life but he was fearless on that virtual battlefield. Hell I could operate a tank (See what I did there icon_razz.gif) I would prefer a good game to any movie and I expect more from them. I love my games and I take them seriously.
4 years ago
PALGN wrote
The game’s narrative is utterly disposable, and the amount of liberties Visceral Games has taken with the source material is irksome to say the least; this is Todd MacFarlane or Frank Miller’s Dante’s Inferno, not Alighieri’s, and it is clear that Visceral Games cares very little for the source material. Quotes from the text appear on screen after every death and are devoid of context; Virgil the poet is reduced to a lame hologram, and the poem’s major players are cast as enormous boss monsters which eject demon infants from their exposed nipples.
I'm not sure any of us really expected it to closely follow the source material did we? In fact I am rather glad it did not, after all, the original text can get somewhat dry and long winded, and I don't remember any badass action sequences. Whilst I am all for staying true to the classics, they often don't make for hack n' slashery icon_razz.gif
(Except for a Don Quixote game in the form of Shadow of the Colossus, but with windmills, now that would be BAD ASS!)
4 years ago
Dutch Rootsman - You are a fool.

Go away

End Rant.
4 years ago
faccin - keep that up and you'll get a time out.

He's stating an opinion on the piece, Michael is rebutting with why he made those decisions, name calling isn't necessary, expecially when you have nothing to do with the conversation..
4 years ago
I agree with many on the fact that a game for me should not be penalised because it is not original, but thats my personal opinion. Many would also think the opposite, but i dont think that should take away from the overall score. If the game is not original, but isnt as good as its influence than it should get a lower score, which is what I think happened here.

I do think however reviewers who really have no choice, but to review games given to them could get sick of playing the same things over and over and heavily penalised anything unoriginal and really you cant blame them.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  4/02/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  1

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