Dante's Inferno in Review: Just a Second Class God of War?

Dante's Inferno in Review: Just a Second Class God of War?

Dante's Inferno in Review

For some it was just a slack God of War infusion, for others it was a terrific ride in hell: With Dante's Inferno, the Dead Space developers once pursued great goals. But the brutal action game was met with divided echoes, the ratings and sales figures disappointed - and so EA dropped the promising brand without a trace. A mistake! Because Dante's Inferno has its problem areas and weakens especially in the last third, but the game also scores with dark design, great music and powerful action. In our uncensored video review, we shed light on the strengths of Dante's Inferno and explain why EA's Hell Beater ultimately failed.


Dante's Inferno | RETRO | God of War in Hell - With this game EA went bathing loadVideoPlayer ('84383', '& sAdSetCsategory = artikel_featured', 18, '16: 9 ', false, 1379680, false, 219692, 260, false, 0,' ', '', false); Dante's Inferno from 9.99 €

Table of Contents

Page 1. Dante's Inferno in retrospect: The worse God of War? Next page 1.1. The divine template 1.2. More hell is not possible 1.3. For eyes and ears 1.4. Eternal damnation 1.5. With scythe and crossfire page 2. Dante's Inferno in retrospect: The worse God of War? 2.1. Boss camera 2.2. Bumpy final act 2.3. Remaster, remake, successor - is there still hope? 2.4. Where can I play Dante's Inferno? Page 3. Picture gallery for "Dante's Inferno in retrospect: Just a second-class God of War?" Not in the mood for video? From here you can also find our complete special in text form.

The divine template

It was in the middle of our path of life,

When I found myself in a dark forest;

Because I was astray from the right path.

It is difficult for me to describe this forest,

Which was overgrown and full of horror

And in memory already the fear again:

So difficult that death to suffer little worse.

But in order to announce the salvation I found there,

I will report what else I have seen.

With these cheerful words begins The Divine Comedy, an epochal work that made literary history around 700 years ago. The Italian poet Dante Alighieri describes a journey through the three realms of the hereafter: hell, purgatory and finally paradise. An immortal tale that has influenced countless authors, artists, filmmakers and of course game developers since then. Right at the front was Visceral Games, a studio that had its big breakthrough in 2008 with Dead Space.

Penitent with a mission: Dante sewed a cross on his chest to symbolize his sins. Source: PC Games Your next project was therefore eagerly awaited: It should be called Dante's Inferno, a dark action game based on Alighiere's poetry. The expectations were high: EA pumped a lot of money into marketing and the first previews looked good too. But in February 2010 the disillusionment followed. The more tests came in, the clearer it became: Dante's Inferno wasn't a complete failure, but it landed well below the ambitious goals.

The game actually had a lot of good approaches, starting with the huge template. Dante's Inferno is based on the first part of the Divine Comedy, but of course allows himself a lot of freedom. In the book, the poet tells from the first person, basically about himself; in the game, on the other hand, you control another Dante, a grim knight with a dark past. During the Crusades, Dante committed horrific crimes and, to make matters worse, betrayed his beloved Beatrice. This ultimately leads to her murder and calls Lucifer on the scene, who kidnaps Beatrice's soul into the underworld. Filled with guilt, Dante now decides to save his lover - and afterwards she doesn't have much more to do. The very important character from the book is unfortunately degraded in the game to a helpless "damsel in distress".

More hell is not possible

The goal is clear: You have to go through the nine circles of Dante Direct hell and in the end beat up the incarnate. The developers use a clever concept: They mostly do without hard level transitions or loading screens, but cleverly link the individual regions of hell with one another and allow them to merge. As a result, Dante's descent turns out to be beautifully organic and almost feels like one piece - that still makes a difference today.

The boss fight against Minos is great, but annoying with constantly recurring combat phases. Source: PC Games The many cut scenes mix pre-rendered videos with cartoons and in-game sequences. A lot of effort was put into the staging, although the plot itself quickly runs out of breath: the developers try to throw in little surprises or twists here and there, but most of them fail to have their effect, also because the characters can never really unfold . Even the guilty Dante remains pale and one-dimensional for a long time. This is also a shame because the more experienced actor Graham McTavish really hangs in to give his speaking role a little depth.

The Roman poet Virgil accompanies Dante on his way through hell. Source: PC Games Interesting minor characters are in short supply. Our only friend in Hell is Virgil, the same Roman poet who appears in the book as a kind of guide to the hereafter. His role here is limited to short, atmospheric slogans that are intended to introduce the next section of the level. Otherwise the figure basically has nothing to report. Unfortunately, the developers have not used the opportunity to add a few exciting dialogues in between and build up the characters a bit.

For eyes and ears

Dante swears eternal loyalty to Beatrice. Later he will break this vow. Source: PC Games The scenes were beautifully staged for the conditions at the time. Although the game is dominated by a dark brown color palette, which gets a bit boring in the long run, the developers always conjure up atmospheric surroundings on the screen. For example, the "Lust" section is packed with sexual motifs, including a fight against the giant Cleopatra, who steps in as the bloodthirsty guardian after a deal with Lucifer as we climb a gigantic phallic symbol. In the "Gluttony" level we then have to fight our way through disgusting digestive tracts, finish off voracious worms and avoid huge bites. Later we encounter waterfalls made of blood, drive over boiling lakes of gold and find ourselves in a distorted forest where suicides suffer eternal torment.

Corpses and tormented souls pave Dante's path. Source: PC Games The developers did a great job of staging, for example in an impressive tracking shot in which we enter the huge underworld city of Dis, which extends over the sixth circle of hell. Not only did it look great, the music can also play out its full strengths in such scenes. The orchestral score penned by Garry Schyman and Paul Gorman underscores the action almost perfectly and is absolutely worth listening to even without playing. You can listen to a selection of pieces on Schyman's official website. (Tip: 'Bleeding Charon' is amazing.)

Eternal damnation

No matter where we are, the atmosphere is dark, oppressive and often really depressing. Hardly a minute goes by without some tormented souls begging us, hardly a path that is not paved with corpses. Dante's Inferno has earned his 18+ seal, but the game is not as excessive as, for example, Dead Space. Compared to God of War, the finishing moves are downright anemic.

Calculated shock effect: Even unbaptized babies want us to the leather. Source: PC Games Every now and then the developers overshoot the mark. For example, you are confronted at an early age with disfigured babies who pounce on you with two arm blades. According to the plot, these are unbaptized children who were denied entry into the kingdom of heaven and who now eke out their existence in limbo. This may correspond to the Christian view of the time, but attacking babies with a scythe was a bit too much of a good thing for some players. With their own making-of video, they even wanted to enjoy the whole thing in an advertising-effective way - from today's perspective that seems rather embarrassing. By the way, babies as horror opponents were nothing new for Visceral, they already had in Dead Space Developers set on a similar shock effect. Playfully, Dante's Inferno (buy now € 9.99) went in a completely different direction: The action game clearly follows in the footsteps of God of War and, above all, stages powerfully animated fights against all kinds of hell beasts. In between there are a few puzzles that take up only a very small part of the game time, but are at least quite original. Here Dante's Inferno can easily keep up with Sony's Kratos saga.

The three-headed Cerberus guards the path through the gluttony section. Source: PC Games

With scythe and crossfire

When it comes to equipment, God of War is clearly ahead of the game. Dante has only two weapons: the most important one is of course his distinctive scythe, which he lures off physical death right at the beginning. The thing is not static, but also fulfills the function of an ax, whip or spear as required - the game itself determines which shape is used. Developing your own fighting styles or upgrading the weapon in a certain direction is therefore not possible. The developers are giving away a lot of potential here.

Continuous fire: Dante uses the cross to continuously shoot magical projectiles at his opponents. Source: PC Games Dante's second weapon is Beatrice's holy cross, with which he shoots magical projectiles at his enemies. The part looks pretty weak at first, but that changes over time. From the second half of the game at the latest, many enemies can literally be covered with the huge shots and slowly being beaten down, that even works with some bosses. This is made possible by an upgrade system that allows you to develop Dante's abilities a little.

With two talent trees you can further develop Dante's abilities. Source: PC Games For this purpose, you have two talent trees that you have to level up first. You get the necessary points for this if you give opponents the rest with finishing moves, because then you have to make a short decision: You can either redeem or condemn the hell beast - this has no story impact, but gives points for the red or blue talent tree. If you have unlocked a new rank, you then have to invest soul points, which you receive for defeated enemies, among other things. With it you can finally activate new combos, more life force or additional combat bonuses. The whole upgrade mechanic starts out a bit lame, but after a while all the improvements become really noticeable and noticeably upgrade the battles.

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