Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Found Myself in a Dark Forest

One of the most vivid pieces of literature I've ever read is Dante’s Divine Comedy. Despite the poem’s age, the descriptions are so colorful and vibrant that I actually felt a little sick upon reading about the drool dripping down the side of someone’s face from the person chewing on their head, both of them trapped in ice, for all eternity.

When I found out that Visceral was making a game out of this masterpiece I was both excited and very skeptical. I figured the visuals would more than likely be striking but that certain liberties would have to be taken in order to create a story. Having finished the game tonight (a mere 6.5 hours after I started it) I can say that my predictions were pretty much correct.

The designs of the levels of hell are absolutely incredible looking with details taken directly from the source material. Even my biggest fear – that the center of hell would be changed to a pit of lava rather than the frozen tundra Dante described – turned out to be unfounded. I know it’s sad but it made my fan girl heart sequel to see Lucifer fanning the winds of hell while being stuck in the ice himself. It does strike me as odd that the developers wouldn’t include the fact that The Fallen Angel has three mouths that chew the greatest traitors of all time . . . but I’m going to stop right there or I’ll gone on for hours. And I really don’t want to do that because the visuals really are amazing and worth taking note of.

Not to mention that the cutscenes are, without a doubt, the best I have ever – ever – seen in a video game. Check out the final cutscene of the game for some pure beauty (and Steven Blum as Lucifer!). Obviously though, spoilers abound:

Sadly though, it wasn’t all fun and games. While all of the levels of the Inferno are gorgeous, some of the level design was downright bad. I’m actually convinced that an intern must have designed the Greed circle. That level was unforgivably bad. The biggest flaw with this game isn’t its similarities to the God of War series (which are abundant) but rather it’s pathetically poor platforming. When it was all said and done, I think the minions of hell managed to kill me once. Maybe twice. The camera and environments however managed to kill me more times than I can count. Several of the puzzles, for example, give you precisely 2 seconds to respond and if you take 2.00001 seconds you’ll be rewarded with an instant death.

The combat was pretty tight and satisfying but, unfairly, Bayonetta has ruined action games for me forever as I now expect all games of the genre to handle as well as it did. Of course, it’s doubtful another game ever will. Again though, it’s not right to compare this game to another and the combat is far from bad just not as good as it could be.

Overall, “Dante’s Inferno” is a fun, gory romp. If you can handle some moments of frustration and repetition, it’s worth a rental but I can’t say the 7-hour game is worth 60 dollars.


  1. Yeah, that cut scene is impressive and Dante is such a stud. Definitely not the case in the poem, guys. Not at all.

    I can't imagine a sequel to this, I really can't. Purgatory is the second most boring place, behind Heaven. At least, as far as Aligheri wrote it.

  2. Haha. I kept thinking about what an old poet would think seeing himself portrayed as such a beefcake badass.

    As far as the sequel goes, I figure it will have to be pretty damn original since the poem offers very little in the way of visuals - unless you count blinding light.

    My guess is that Lucifer (and his minions) will escape hell and it will be your charge to stop him.