And there will be many such incidents because the combat segments play out like mini-challenge rooms. The quiet sections are the ones when you’re walking through narrow corridors, and then the moment the level opens up a bit, you know there’s a fight coming up. There’s the customary blocking of entry and exit paths with walls of fire and two or three of each enemy type are thrown at you. For large portions of the game, you’ll be facing the same enemy types again and again, only in larger numbers the further you go. On those rare occasions that a new enemy type is introduced, the game celebrates it with a mini-bossfight-like presentation. But once you kill it, it will show up in pairs and trios with the rest of the roster in future combat.
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If the standard combat segments didn’t feel enough like challenge rooms, the game throws you in ten consecutive challenge rooms later in the game. It’s strange that something that, in other games, would be resigned to a separate game mode, is forced on to you as a part of the story here. Whatever frustration I had managed to keep bottled up until this point finally got to me, prompting me to drop the difficulty down to easy and rush through this artificial elongation of the game.
As I mentioned before, the bigger enemies aren’t that hard to defeat, so the boss fights are manageable and not as frustrating, but not that innovative either. They have fixed attacks and predictable patterns and it won’t take anyone long to figure them out. But the game isn’t easy so you will die a fair amount. Like God of War, this game takes a fixed camera approach, which means you have no control over how the camera moves. At times, poor implementation of camera animations can get you killed, like when the camera changes angle in the middle of a big double-jump, causing you to change direction and plummet to an untimely demise, or when the camera zooms way back to accommodate a large enemy, only to often have Dante hidden behind it, forcing you play blind.
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There are puzzles too, but they’re the kind that require trial and error more than logical thinking. They mostly deal with pulling levers and moving platforms, and none of them pose any sort of challenge. Since you’re mostly travelling downwards into the lower levels of hell, there is lots of rappling, sliding, and rope-swinging to be done. The rope-swinging activity is often turned into mini puzzles with fire hazards requiring you to time your swings and jumps. Here again, the controls and changing camera angles can often lead to cheap deaths. With so many cheap deaths, a good checkpoint system would be the order of the day. For most part, the system is good and keeps repetition to a minimum, but every now and then, you will be forced to again fight through a horde of enemies to get to the bossfight where you were killed.
Technically, I came away from Dante’s Inferno quite impressed. It runs at 60 frames per second, there isn’t a single loading screen throughout the game, and there is no mandatory install on the PS3 version. It doesn’t look as good as the best in the genre, but it definitely has its moment. Hell doesn’t really give you a lot to work with in terms of environments, but Visceral have done a fine job in making each circle of hell look and feel different. A lot of this is also down to the sound effects, particularly the constant screams and moans of all the souls trapped in hell, which can get a little unnerving after a while. What the game lacks in sharp graphics, it certainly makes up in its art style and a well-created atmosphere.
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None of the real issues with Dante’s Inferno have anything to do with how similar it is to God of War, but more to do with the fact that it just doesn’t do enough to keep you hooked. After a promising start, the quality plateaus couple of hours in and stays there till the end. Considering the fact that it can take around 11-12 hours to complete, by the end, it starts to feel like a grind, which is further compounded by its various gameplay and level design issues. Dante’s Inferno is an unimaginative game that is a little rough around the edges in its implementation, and with so many quality recent and upcoming releases in this genre, you’d be best served to give this one a miss.
(+) Great art style and atmosphere
(+) Simple, but well implemented morality system
(-) Combat lacks fluidity
(-) Camera issues
(-) Boring puzzles
(-) 2D cutscenes hold the story back
Title: Dante’s Inferno
Developer/Publisher: Visceral Games/EA
Genre: Action Action
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Death Edition – Rs 2,999), PS3 (Standard – Rs 2,499, Death Edition – Rs 2,999), PSP (Rs 1,599)
Reviewed on: PS3