Dante’s Inferno is a God of War clone. There! So now that that’s out of the way, and half the people have skipped to the last paragraph and score, let me talk to those of you who haven’t cast it aside as a bad game just because of it. Anyone who’s played Darksiders knows that a game based on borrowed ideas can still be fantastic. So if Darksiders can be great, then Dante’s Inferno can be great too.
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But it isn’t. On the surface, there’s not much technically wrong with Dante’s Inferno, but the things you earlier overlooked as slight niggles, slowly gnaw at you the longer you play, which eventually sucks the enjoyment out of it. To be honest, I know nothing about the Divine Comedy, so there’s no way for me to tell how faithful to the original the game is. But in the game, you play as Dante, who must journey through the nine circles of hell to rescue his wife Beatrice, who is being held captive by Lucifer.
The story is told through a mix of in-engine, 2D and CG cutscenes. While the latter are gorgeous and an absolute treat to watch, the in-engine cutscenes don’t leave much of an impression. It’s through the 2D cutscenes that a lot of Dante’s past is revealed and his character built up. But while the animation itself is brilliant, the 2D nature creates a disconnect between the story and the game, so you’re not really able to relate those incidents to the character you’re playing, and the impact of some of the rather important revelations is lost because of the fact that it’s done in 2D.
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In case you skipped past the first paragraph, Dante’s Inferno is a hack-n-slash game. Dante’s primary weapon is a scythe, which he pries away from the grim reaper’s cold dead hands. You can perform light, heavy and grab attacks, and you can later unlock focussed and special attacks and additional combos. You also unlock four unique limited-use attacks in the form of magic at various points in the game. These are powered by purple orbs of Mana which you collect by opening chests and killing enemies.
You can pick up collectible relics throughout the game and these give you specific performance bonuses such as automatic counter-attacking, increased damage, etc, and each of these relic powers level up and become more effective as you play along. You get two relic slots at the start, with the ability to unlock a third later in the game. There’s also a morality system at play, which brands you as holy or unholy depending on your actions in the game. While it isn’t game-changing, it’s a nice addition thanks to the availability of certain unlocks and relics on each side that aren’t available on the other. Sticking to one side is also rewarded by offering more powerful relics on reaching higher holy or unholy levels.
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When you start out, the combat will feel just fine. But once the game throws a variety of enemy types at you, the inadequacies in the combat system creep through. These are most exposed when facing smaller enemy types like the unbaptised babies. They’re quick and attack without any sort of indication, and neither the block, jump nor evade manoeuvres are responsive enough to counter them. So if more than one of them comes at you, chances are you will take a few hits. This isn’t much of an issue with the bigger enemies and bosses, because you can see their attacks coming, but it’s very often these small enemies in large numbers that can make combat sections really frustrating.
Next page: IVG Verdict