Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Dante's Inferno

2:00 PM on 02.05.2010 // Nick Chester

Strip away marketing and PR controversy, and forget for a moment that Dante's Inferno is a videogame interpretation of a literary classic (albeit loosely).

Sure, Visceral Games -- the talented team behind the critically acclaimed Dead Space -- has taken a bit of flak for its attempts to turn Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy into what could most easily be described as a "big-budget third-person action videogame."

But I think some people had forgotten that Visceral knows how to make fun, technically impressive games; Dante's Inferno is no exception. Despite what could be consider some "me too" gameplay, Visceral delivers one of the most surprisingly solid games I've played in quite some time.

Dante's Inferno [PlayStation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360 (reviewed)]
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
To be released: February 9, 2010
MSRP: $59.99

First, let's deal with that elephant in the room -- Dante's Inferno borrows heavily from from predecessors like God of War, and similar games in the genre. There's simply no getting around it, and even bothering to try is foolish. But if you're going to wear your influences on your sleeve, you need to show and prove yourself... do it well, or do it better. In that respect, Dante's Inferno impresses, with solid third-person action that certainly feels familiar, yet throws in enough of its own tricks to make the action feel fresh and fun from start to finish.

You'll use standard "light" and "heavy" attacks to wield Dante's scythe, a massive blade yanked from the bony hands of Death himself. The size of this weapon is evident in the gameplay -- it feels substantial with each blow you land, the weight of the weapon felt in every sweeping swing and combo. The combat is solid, unyielding, and deliberate. Compared to a recent title like Bayonetta, where the combat is fast and frantic (almost to the point of confusion), there's never a feeling of losing control when Dante's in combat.

Dante also wields a Holy Cross, a ranged attack that can be used alongside his scythe. While the Cross can be used on its own to stave off enemies or clip the wings of flying enemies, it truly shines when used alongside Dante's scythe. Toss an enemy into the air and blast them with the light of the Holy Cross to keep them there. Or hop into the air and continue punishing them with your scythe before slamming them into the ground with the Holy Cross. Groundbreaking combat gameplay? Not really. But when it feels this tight, and this responsive, the "this is just like another great game" argument doesn't hold much water.

It's a great thing the combat feels so good, because you'll be doing a lot of it. Yes, there's minor platforming. Sure, there are some puzzles Dante will have to work through as he makes his way down and through the circles of hell. But the focus here is most definitely on combat -- it's obvious that Visceral made this an early priority, and it shows. To keep things fresh, the game throws in upgrades via a skill tree, split into two paths -- Holy and Unholy. Progression is based on gameplay choices the player makes -- punish enemies and unlock upgrades in the unholy path; absolve them to continue on a holy path. Relics can also be equipped to augment Dante's abilities even further, which keeps the skill set feeling fresh up until the game's end.

Visually, Dante's Inferno is stunning, both from a technical and artistic standpoint. Visceral's vision of hell -- based on Alighieri's text as well as a broad range of artists' interpretations (including its own) -- is as impressive as it is morbid and twisted. As you move your way through the circles -- from Limbo to Treachery -- the distinctions are clear, in both enemy design as well as the environments, many of which feel alive: contorted bodies and moving are part of the terrain, and you can hear their screams and howls echoing in the air. When you think it can't get more f*cked up (the souls of aborted babies attack with you their razor blade arms), it does. As you dive deeper into hell, you're in for a real treat, as the level design becomes more jaw-droppingly morbid and perverse as you plunge towards the final Circle of Hell.

If it sounds like I'm giving Dante's Inferno a tongue bath, it's because...well... I am. As a fan of third-person action, I knew I'd enjoy the game, but was caught off-guard at the game's overall quality and polish. Still, it's not without its issues, yet it should be noted upfront that they don't really dampen the overall experience when all is said and done.

The trip through hell, for some, could be considered on the short side. During my first playthrough, I blew through the game in a little under eight hours. It also should be mentioned that the game's play time is extended by an arbitrary set of arena-like challenges tossed at you towards the game's conclusion. It did feel a bit odd that all of a sudden I was being tasked with killing X number of enemies in Y seconds, which seemed more like it should have been a separate game mode than shoehorned into the game's narrative. (Of note, it sort of will be -- the game's disc reveals a cooperative multiplayer challenge room design mode, "The Trials of St. Lucia," which will be made available as DLC in April.)

Who knows whether or not Visceral was truly sincere in wanting to, in some way, introduce gamers to Alighieri's classic work? It's clear it's done its homework, even channeling more obscure trivia and facts from the real-life Dante Alighieri to flesh out some of the game's narrative and characters. And it certainly does a commendable job of structuring a dramatic, more briskly-paced action-style narrative from the bones of the original piece, told through some of the most breathtaking pre-rendered cinematics seen in gaming.

When it comes down to it, you're going to get the best Dante's Inferno experience when you let go. Let go of the comparisons. Let go of your contempt for what it may or may not do for and to the source material. Just let go and have fun.

You're not going to find a wholly original gameplay experience with Dante's Inferno, but that doesn't mean it's not a hell of an entertaining package -- it's one that fans of action shouldn't miss.

Score: 9.0 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)

Photo Gallery: (8 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Editor-in-Chief @ nick at  more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With all the controversy surrounding review scores, what do you personally consider a "bad" score versus a "good" score? Is there a game in particular that was panned by critics that you nevertheless enjoyed? Or vice versa?
TheVeganGamer avatarTheVeganGamer
Finally got around to playing Diablo 3 with some friends, holy smokes! That game is rad!
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -