Dante’s Inferno is another third person high-action title, along the lines of God of War and Bayonetta. Unfortunately, because of this, you will see inevitable comparisons to those two other titles and I’m afraid Dante may not be able to stand up to them. Just as a warning, there are some minor spoilers ahead, but it’s probably stuff that has already been spread around the Interwebs.
You play through several areas of what I can only assume is the beginning of the game, mostly in the “overworld”, if you will. The majority of the game follows the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy and sees our hero chasing his beloved Beatrice into the Circles of Hell to break her free from Lucifer’s grasp.
I enjoyed the way the game sets the mood of eternal doom and dread. Within the first 10 minutes or so you end up watching Dante be killed, and then you have to fight Death….to the death. It’s a simple battle, but seems like this huge boss fight and you feel like you’ve climbed an insurmountable mountain when you get through it, even though it’s a fairly simple affair.
After he survives, he makes the trip to this fairly idyllic setting, presumably he’s going back to be with Beatrice. Instead, he finds the place ransacked and his love dead (and partially topless, for those who care) in front of him. Her spirit appears and is whisked away to hell. From there on, you guide Dante to follow her and rescue her, which, again, is the premise of the game.
Now, I’m not a big fan of these types of action games, but I do know when I’m having fun. While in the Bayonetta demo it doesn’t seem like you get regulated to button mashing, here you do. Granted, you can learn new combos which adds to the abilities you can perform, but I felt like I was button mashing way too often, whether I needed to or not. About half way through the demo you get several new combos and abilities. You gain a scythe after you defeat Death and you can grab your enemies by it and slam them down. It’s fairly impressive, but nothing that “wowed” me like that other title.
While I enjoyed the story and the mood, I didn’t care much for the fixed camera and the controls felt almost too loose. When I dodge, Dante rolls across nearly the entire screen in the blink of an eye and it’s almost a bit disconcerting every time it happens. I also question the way the controls are laid out. While you can’t change them in the demo, I hope you can in the full title. Maybe it’s just my grubby hands, but having block on the L2 button makes the controller slip out of my hand since it’s used a lot. It’s better off being on the L1 button and a function that’s less used on L2. It was rather distracting.
Overall, as I mentioned at the outset, I question whether Dante’s Inferno can hold up to, especially, God of War III, but also the well-received Bayonetta. The early part of the year is crowded with some huge games, in addition to three high-fantasy action games. Bayonetta in January, Dante’s Inferno in February and God of War III in March. I’m always rooting for new IPs, so here’s hoping for the best. You can try the demo out for yourself and draw your own conclusions, for now it’s only on the PS3. Look for Dante’s Inferno on store shelves February 9, 2010.