Inspired by the real Dante Alighieri, but adapted for a new generation and a new medium, the hero of the game is a soldier who defies death and fights for love against impossible odds. The Italian mercenary Dante returns home from the wars to find that his beloved Beatrice has been murdered, and her soul pulled down into Hell by a dark force. He gives chase, and vows to get her back. For weapons, he wields Death’s soul-reaping scythe, and commands holy powers of the cross, given to him by Beatrice.
I can’t make this stuff up. That there is the description of Dante from the official site of the game. It was hard to not be skeptical about this game when it was first announced, but as more and more information poured out, most of us here at PNG looked upon this game with noses upturned. A few were brave enough to admit that they would give it a shot, and much grief was given to those fearless souls. I have never been a fan of brawlers since Streets of Rage 2 and Turtles in Time (not the shitty remake on XBLA). But after seeing the game in action and some screenshots, I had to admit I was intrigued. Did the demo that dropped a few weeks ago sell me? Hit the jump to find out!
I would love to tell you that I get the impression that this game is going to have some sort of deep and engaging story, but that simply does not exist. Let’s put aside that EA and Visceral Games decided to take a proverbial dump on a work of classic literature and focus on what people who play this genre of games really care about, combat and a dope ass cinematic experience. As I’ve stated, I don’t usually play these types of games, but I appreciate the allure of games like Devil May Cry and God of War. For me, the allure of this game has to be the fact that they are taking such ridiculous liberties with the story of Dante, twisting and turning it into an almost laughable parody of itself. I mean, you get to kill Death with his own scythe and then watch your naked wife’s spirit get molested by a demon. And when I say naked, I mean the most holiest of holy regions is covered by some demon mist while her breasts are out for the world to see. As a male, I’m ok with this. As an amateur critic, it’s pretty unnecessary. As the quoted text at the beginning of my impressions states, she’s the entire reason you end up going through the various levels of hell.
In the brawler/action genre, story is secondary to flowing combat, large beautiful set pieces, and a cinematic experience. From my time with the demo, Dante’s Inferno seems to have these bases covered. Combat seems a little simple at first but flows well. Pretty much right after you kill Death, you’re introduced to the combat skill tree which allows you to spend souls to unlock more combos and moves. There are also what I would call quick time events that you have to press buttons at certain times to cause Dante to do some sort of devastating move… like when you kill Death and jack his scythe. To be honest, the fight with Death was one of my high points with a giant platform surrounded by what appears to be a dark swirling abyss. There was also a part in a church where Beatrice’s soul gets dragged down into hell and the church starts to crumble giving it the appearance of opening up into hell. While this seems like a tiny footnote, I would like to emphasize that the music is excellent and fits in perfectly with the experience.
While I was skeptical at first and eventually warmed to the potential of Dante’s Inferno, the demo really sold me on the game. While I’m a novice at this genre, I found the combat satisfying and the graphics smooth and gorgeous. The trailer that runs when the demo is complete shows off the various levels of hell as envisioned by Visceral Games along with some more gameplay that looks just as good as the demo. If you hold the Divine Comedy near and dear to your heart, you may not be able to get past the liberties that were taken with Dante and the story. However, if you can look past this, you may find it just as enjoyable and worth a go as I did.