Dante’s Inferno takes you (playing as Dante) on a journey through the nine circles of hell without candy coating the experience. This review was hard for me to write, not because I was lost for words on what to say, but where to start! The game is visually stunning with detailed graphics that pull you into the storyline. And once it did so for me, I lost all track of time playing this game.
The game opens with you playing as Dante, an Italian Mercenary who is fighting as a holy warrior in the Third Crusade. Before returning home he sews a cross of all the sins he is guilty of across his chest. The game opens in the city of Acre, where Dante is ordered by King Richard I to obtain a relic. He is stabbed in the back from an assassin and receives a little visit from Death himself. Death condemns him to "everlasting damnation for his sins," but Dante pulls the sword from his back and challenges Death.
Depending on the difficulty you selected, you should quickly finish off Death and take his scythe. This will be your primarily main weapon throughout the game when performing melee attacks. Dante then continues home where he finds his father dead, stabbed in the eye with a crucifix and his mate Beatrice slain. Her soul appears to him telling him that she knew he would come for her, but then the dark mist clouds around her. The arms of Lucifer wrap around her and pull her down to hell.
This is when the voyage begins. You will have to fight your way through the nine circles of hell (limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery) to save Beatrice’s soul. You will not be on this voyage alone; you have a guide, the poet Virgil. He will fill you on what level of hell you have reached and what souls you will find there.
You will have an option to punish or absolve enemy souls, and be able to level up (0-7) either in holy or unholy abilities. Souls are spent to level Dante and obtain perks to help you fight. You can choose to go the unholy or holy route or just equally level on each side. Collectibles like 30 silver Judas coins and Beatrice stones will have you searching hell, making sure you found everyone.
The one level of hell that made my mouth drop a bit was lust. Here you will encounter the unbaptized children with blades for hands as well as the temptress of Lust whose attack is hard to describe without seeming too vulgar. Basically a growth similar to a scorpion’s tail grows from between her legs and attacks you. The tower of lust is where you first encounter these enemies and their boss is none other than Cleopatra. She will dish out more unbaptized children to attack you in another strange way, through her breasts; another jaw dropping moment for me.
The one major complaint I had about this game is the lack of camera control. There were a few situations I encountered where I wanted to spin the camera around so I could get a better look at my surroundings to see if I missed anything. The levels are full of fountains to bust and relics’ heads to rip off for bonuses. The other is the giant leap in difficulty from easy (Classic) to normal (Zealot). If you feel up for the challenge, there is also hard (Hellish) and once you beat the game it unlocks infernal difficulty.
Each level is made to really make you feel as though you have personally entered hell. There are bodies trapped in the walls screaming, moaning, and begging where you actually can see these souls behind the walls made of what appears to be vines that allow you to climb over them. Every level is rendered beautifully and helps in telling the story of each level of hell. This game is clearly rated mature for a reason. There is of course blood and gore, but it’s the nudity and sexual content that keeps me from playing it front of small children. The rating is there for a reason so I hope parents take notice.
The story is loosely based on Dante Aligheri’s Divine Comedy, and also released directly to DVD is an animated movie that elaborates on the storyline for the game. You will see Dante’s appearance change in the film because four different styles were merged to make the movie.
The DLC makes this game a keeper for me. One piece of DLC that is a prequel to the game called "Dark Forest." There you battle from the deep dark forest to make your home. A second DLC will be released in late April called "Trials of St. Lucia" and a making of video appears on the game disk. This will bring a cooperative, multiplayer, and level creation mode to the game where user created maps can be posted for sharing. A new character will also appear, St. Lucia, a Christian martyr and Dante’s personal guardian angel.