‘Inferno’ twisted

Game: “Dante’s Inferno”
Maker: Electronic Arts; Artifical Mind and Movement
Release Date: Feb 9, 2010
www.dantesinferno.com

A portion of “The Divine Comedy” has been brought to consoles thanks to game makers Electronic Arts and Artificial Mind and Movement. The 15th-century epic poem by Dante Alighieri becomes “Dante’s Inferno” the game, a ghoulish realm for players’ entertainment. The game takes liberties with the poem, however.

The player assumes the role of Dante: who is in this case a crusader who fights Death himself to get back home to his love, Beatrice. But, once there, Dante finds her in his back yard with a sword in her heart. His servants and father have been murdered. Then, Lucifer appears and says if Dante wants Beatrice back, he will have to traverse the Nine Circles of Hell.

The story has a big twist at the end, but falls flat with half-written themes of redemption.

“Dante’s Inferno” is a gorgeous game. Everything in-engine is rendered with care and convincing damnation. Demons look scary. The cliffs of Hell look bleak and are made of the souls of the damned who scream and reach out for the player.

The character models are detailed and as depraved as one would expect on a tour through Hell. The developers and artists did not hold back; once the player sees a monster with mouths for ears, hands and eyes that belch vomit and feces, it cannot be unseen. Likewise, in the Lust circle, the women who attempt to seduce Dante grow claws from their nether regions to impale the hapless hero.

The controls and abilities seem rock solid. Upgrades make enemies dispatch quicker, and the Crucifix is amazing, powerful and never runs out of energy. With the Absolution/Damnation mechanic, one could punish or save the wayward souls who reside in Hell. (A careful scouring of the landscape will turn up a certain American president.)

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Unfortunately, Dante’s ride is marred by unacceptable glitches and way too many enemies spawning during puzzles. Once a player has that “Aha!” moment, and the enemies keep coming, it could force the player to rage-quit prematurely. There is one section toward the end of the game that is inexcusable; Dante has to push a platform up a hill with demon overlords constantly spawning.
There are also parts that just seem to push the perception of American audiences with the gratuitous nudity and disgusting enemies.

In all, Dante’s Inferno is a fairly good game that takes heavy liberties with Alighieri’s crowning achievement and delivers thrills for a while. But, unforgivable game design choices dot the landscape, giving the impression of the game as its own stumbling block.