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'Dante's Inferno' raises hell

Mar 3, 2010

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Dante's Inferno'God of War'. 'God of War'. I am tired of the comparisons to 'God of War'. Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of Kratos and his ancient misadventures as much as the next guy but 'Dante's Inferno' is not 'God of War Jr.', as some have described it. To refer to it as such is an insult to the outstanding work developer Visceral Games put into the title.

Based on the epic poem by Dante Alighieri, the game takes substantial liberties with the source material but the story is essentially the same: one man's journey through hell to save his beloved soul mate, Beatrice. Raising the white flag as far as the Crusades are concerned, the disenchanted and anguished knight arrives home to find Beatrice slain and Lucifer dragging her soul to hell.

Dante's InfernoThe journey through hell is unforgettable and full of hellish sights, sounds. The art direction in 'Dante's Inferno' is exactly that…pure art. Ghoulish prisoners scream out in misery, pushing against web-like barriers. A cyberpunk rendition of the four-headed guardian Cerberus is a belching beast with tentacle-like necks and a lipless mouth crowded with tombstone teeth. A topless, demonic Cleopatra spawns her minions by secreting them through her nipples. Her lover, Marc Antony, has molten lava pulsing through his undead veins. Rivers of bubbling blood flowing at the feet of immense statues whose twisted faces are frozen in agony and despair. Human genitalia are employed as weapons against you.

Eat your heart out Clive Barker. At times, 'Dante's Inferno' obliterates the boundaries of good taste and as such is not suitable for youngsters. Those, such as myself, who adore the grotesque and the unusual will find this carnival of madness to be a place of wonder.

Dante's InfernoTo stomp hell's ass with impunity, Dante needs some sadistic weapons and he has the best of all. To kick-start the adventure, Dante tackles the ultimate opponent: the Grim Reaper. You can't get more hardcore than that. A minor spoiler, you unleash a can of whoop ass on The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse and rub the defeat in his bony face by stealing his infamous scythe.

Gotta say, a very satisfying moment. Business is about to pick up. Oh, yeah.

Dante's second weapon, and perhaps his most powerful, is the cross Beatrice left behind. The silver holy symbol fires waves of cross-like bolts of energy that damage grounded or flying enemies and as an added bonus forcefully drives them back a step or two so you don't get mobbed.

Dante's InfernoThe powers of the scythe and Dante himself increase whenever he absolves or punishes souls as part of his finishing move on ordinary adversaries. Splitting them in two or dismembering them with your scythe gains Unholy points while illuminating them with the cross and sending their souls to Heaven, grants you Holy points. Holy, unholy points can be used to gain new attacks to add to Dante's lethal arsenal. When it comes to the historical figures you bump into, if you elect to absolve them of their sins, you will have to participate in a mini-game involving timed button presses in order to grant them peace.

Dante can also wield magic found within powerful artifacts. Defeat a boss and the artifact and all of its powers are yours. Through them, Dante can surround himself with a temporary force field, perform an ice attack/running tackle, stun enemies with poisonous blood and so on.

Dante's InfernoDante sure has a lot of options when he wants to crack some skulls. When he has to use his own though, therein lies the game's Achilles' heel. Some of the timed jump sequences and puzzles will have even the most seasoned player uttering curses that are more malicious than any denizen of Hades can conjure up. You might even be tempted to quit the game. I was. Failing the same insane jump 23 times, reloading and rewatching the same cut-scenes is not my or anyone's idea of fun.

'Dante's Inferno' is not a groundbreaking achievement, nor does it pretend to be. It takes an existing experience (which itself was a hybrid of all sorts of games) and through a heck of a lot of imagination and hard work, is assembled into something quite unique. It is something that stands on its own as an epic adventure game that's gleefully unapologetic in its tone, presentation and that's just the way we like our games.


Dante's Inferno'Dante's Inferno'
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Visceral Games
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site:

Rating: 9 / 10


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