Writing a memory Monday article on Dante’s Inferno kinda feels a bit like I’m cheating, as I didn’t play the game on release. I played the demo though, and always wanted to play it if that counts? I do have one memory of the game, and that’s the sole fact that it’s the first video game I saw some glorious pixelated tiddies in, nipple and all, and that’s a selling point for any teenage boy. Even if they are attached to Dante’s slain lover, sword motorboating snuggly betwixt.
So, it recently came to Gamepass and I thought I would give it a go considering I’d always wanted to play it. Here are my thoughts!
Death is the end… or is it?
Dante is a Templar Knight from the Crusade, and we first take control of him when he is guarding *ahem checks papers* slaughtering hundreds of unarmed prisoners – one of his many sins. Not long after wiping the blood and tears from his halberd he is stabbed in the back (literally) and Death swoops in, with his loving embrace of promised eternal damnation. Wait what? Dante was promised by a Bishop that due to fighting for the noble cause of the crusade, all of his sins would be absolved. Is this the first time in history a religious figure has ever lied?
Dante says F it to all that and you enter a 1v1 with Death himself, and that’s when you know you’re in for a crazy ride. This boss battle is intense at epic proportions, dodging the all too famous scythe and giving Death a taste of his own medicine. Once you whittle his health bar down most of the way, Dante rips Death’s scythe away from his bony fingers and precedes to tear him a new one – splitting him in half. This begs the question, if Death isn’t around anymore is everyone else now immortal, or does someone else take his job?
Returning from the war, scythe on back (how badass), Dante finds his dad with a crucifix hanging out of his head and his lover Beatrice with a sword impaled in her chest. Distraught he rushes to her side, but as he brushes her lips her soul leaves her body, and is quickly swept away by Lucifer himself. Thus begins Dante’s Inferno, on a mission to delve in to the depths of Hell to save the soul of his beloved – undeservedly damned for his sins. How romantic, all I had to do for Valentines was make breakfast in bed. Not sure I’d be up to taking on demons, sorry.
Hack and Slash
I’m sure you’ve all played an old school God of War, Devil May Cry or even Darksiders game, and the reason I mention that is because the combat in Dante’s Inferno is identical. If you haven’t played either of these games, sorry I can’t help you – you’ll have to just go have a look to see what I mean. You have a light and heavy attack, a long ranged attack which is a form of holy light shot from a crucifix, and can combo all of these together in various chains which accumulate in a streak counter.
Going back to a game this old reminds you of how this period was rife with good old quick time events, which are actually quite decent here. Sure you have your occasional ‘spam B to pulverise this cretin in to dust’ which not only hurts your thumb but also everyone’s ears within a 5 mile radius of you and the controller. But you also have pretty unique ones like pulling both analog sticks in opposite directions to rip a demon in half – which never got old.
There is a great sense of progression due to the levelling system and the two different skill trees you can go down. There is Unholy and Holy, Unholy being melee and Holy being magic. Unlocking new combo attacks and different ways to use your crucifix. You can progress further into the different paths depending on what choices you make, as some skills are blocked depending on how holy or unholy you choose to be. The combat does get pretty repetitive after a few hours though, as it essentially boils down to simply spamming the x and y button.
To punish or to absolve?
Although I don’t really understand why Dante gets to decide whether some lost souls receive absolution or eternal damnation, there are husks of condemned characters scattered throughout the game kneeling and pleading for forgiveness. You are given a brief description of what they did in their life in order for you to decide what to do with them. Depending on your view point I think most people deserve to be set free from eternal torment, especially if their biggest sin was gluttony because they ordered two big macs instead of one.
One of these people had been doing a Giggsy and sleeping with his brothers wife. I think his brother ended up committing suicide when he found out which is also a sin that will reward you with a one way ticket to hell. I thought that was worth punishment so I rammed the sharp end of my scythe down his gob deeper than he did to his brothers wife.
As you progress deeper down the 9 circles of hell you meet different enemy types. There’s quite a big variety but after you’re introduced to one type on their assigned layer they then appear on every single other one. I think it would have been nice to have had a bit of exclusivity. Lust has some crazy ass temptresses with three metre long sharp clitorises, swinging them around like a flail and trying to impale you. There’s some really annoying ass golden spinning dudes with hammers on Greed that must have been sent to hell for being addicted to Beyblades or fidget spinners or some shit. You can’t hit them whilst they’re spinning so you just have to avoid them until the animation stops which is really fun and not a complete waste of time.
There are even unbaptised babies with sickles sewn to their arms which are pretty freaky. I was introduced to them on a relaxing Sunday morning, probably around the time most people are at service. It was just how I pictured spending the morning, at first I was absolving them all but it was taking too long so I decided to just obliterate them into further damnation. A baby didn’t get dunked in some water before it died so it has to spend eternity getting tortured, isn’t that a nice caveat of religion?
Vacay in Hell
The level design is top notch, they’ve really nailed the fleshy, slimy, grotesque image of Hell that most people would conjure up when imagining it. In Gluttony you find yourself walking along tongues, stepping over granny’s gnashers whilst the damned are drowning in bile off the beaten path. All this whilst your ears are being constantly bombarded by screams. Seriously, I think I could only take the game in a few hours burst at a time. In a way it bludgeons your willpower down slowly with how depressing it is. From the moment you load your save up all you can hear is perpetual screams.
If there’s one word I would use to describe Dante’s Inferno it’s metal. Another game that is dubbed metal would be Doom, which coincidentally also has you spend time mutilating demons in hell. I do however think Dante’s Inferno is even more metal, and it doesn’t have heavy music thrashing your eardrums nonstop. I don’t think a game like this would get made nowadays, it would probably receive a lot of backlash for how violent it is in both gameplay and story. It’s a shame Visceral Games were shutdown by EA, the Dead Space series was also a gem and I think if they were still going they could have released even better games by now.
If you enjoy old school linear action adventure hack and slash games Dante’s Inferno might just be the game for you. It definitely competes with the other greats in the genre, so if you haven’t played it now is a better time than ever due to it being on Gamepass.