If you were to imagine a developer trying to come up with a new idea for a video game, you probably would not place a 14th century poem high up on the list of subject matter. Yet that’s exactly what the minds behind last year’s Dead Space have done; although they have taken a few liberties with the source material. Whilst I have never read ‘The Divine Comedy’, I do not think there is a section in which Dante hacks The Grim Reaper to pieces, takes his Scythe, and uses it to destroy the legions of hell… With a massive red cross sewn in to the flesh of his chest.
To set the scene, Dante’s Inferno puts you in the role of Dante Alighieri, who is slain during the crusades after having butchered a number of natives. When the Grim Reaper comes for him, Dante is surprised to learn that he is going to hell; despite a Bishop telling him that every sin of his was absolved. Deciding that the Bishop has lied to him, Dante fights off the Grim Reaper, takes his Scythe and returns to his native Italy to see his lover Beatrice. Upon arriving, he finds her dead, and sees her soul dragged off to hell. Armed with his trusty Scythe, Dante must fight his way through a legion of demons and hell-spawn in order to rescue the love of his life. In terms of design and controls, this game plays almost exactly the same as the God of War games – you press Square and Triangle for light attacks, Circle to use long ranged attacks and X to jump. Use the right stick to dodge, R1 to block and R2 to grab. This game is essentially GOD OF WAR: The Catholic Edition.
The basic aim in each battle is to beat your enemies to a pool of goo to release their soul, which you can then use to power yourself up and earn new moves. When you grab an enemy you can choose to either punish your target, or absolve them of their sins. Either option will reward you with what are essentially good points and evil points. These points can be used to unlock moves that are either good or evil. For instance, a basic good move dissolves your enemy and sends them to heaven, while an evil move will turn them to mush, leaving them as the damned creatures that they are. From the little I’ve been able to see from the demo there does’nt appear to be a huge difference between the good and evil moves, although I am sure that as you unlock the more powerful moves, the differences will become more apparent. As you progress further through the demo you come across a number of different enemy types – the basic weakling grunts, flying enemies, larger enemies that will take a severe beating, and huge beasts that you can eventually pound into submission and ride around yourself. When riding the beasts you can make them stamp their feet to crush enemies, grab them, or breathe fire on them. It is pretty satisfying to walk over to a group of about half a dozen enemies and stomp them into dirt.
A trailer at the end of the demo promises battles through the 9 circles of hell (Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Wealth, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treason) with each level designed to specifically follow its own set theme. While the demo is about 15 minutes long, it does give a decent impression of what the final game will be like. The similarities to God of War are very striking, and whilst this is great news for 360 owners, as the 360 doesn’t really have a decent God of War styled game, does the PS3 really need another one with God of War 3 coming out later in the year?
The demo is currently available on the Playstation Network, and will be available for the 360 soon, with release set for early February. Despite still having a few reservations, this is definitely a title to watch out for.