Jul 29 2013
Dante’s Inferno isn’t an extremely old video game, but I would like to talk about it for Video Game Rewind and let other gamers know about this game before we switch to the next generation. Dante’s Inferno was released in 2010 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was developed by Visceral Games and was published by Electronic Arts. The game is based on Inferno which is the first canticle of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. As a fan of Italian literature especially that of Alighieri’s, I was excited about this game. I know Inferno like the back of my hand. What was more exciting than seeing two of my favorite passions combined in one medium?
If you are a fan of Alighieri’s work or an avid reader in general, you will enjoy playing Dante’s Inferno despite of it’s technical flaws. It’s a worthy interpretation of Inferno that has it’s own spin to it while still remaining true to the spirit of the epic poem.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here
I’ll let you know right now that the video game doesn’t follow the narrative of the epic poem 100% and that’s a good thing. If the game followed the original story, then it wouldn’t feel much like a game. In the poem, we are following Dante’s personal journey into hell and the only enemies that he has to face is his own demons. The game has this story about Dante trying to save his lover Beatrice from Lucifer. Truthfully, Beatrice Portinari is indeed his muse and inspiration for most of Divine Comedy and La Vita Nuova but they were never lovers. Dante Alighieri merely saw her by the Arno river in Florence and was so enchanted by her. Sometimes ardent literary buffs are angered by changes like this various interpretations, but Visceral does it in a way that doesn’t change how Dante beautifully and creatively described hell in his poem.
The video game featured all the nine circles of Inferno but I was extremely impressed by how they managed to include the subsections of some circles as well. I managed to speak to someone who was involved in the video game art concept of Dante’s Inferno and it was clear that Visceral had a lot of talented artists working on this game. The character and level designs are vivid. It was as if it knows how I pictured Inferno in my head as I was reading the poem. I felt like the team behind this game either read the text or was well-informed about it.
My friends tell me that the gameplay is quite similar to God of War games. I’ve never played any of those games, but I guess that’s a good thing. In this game, your weapon is a scythe. One of the nice parts of the game that I enjoyed was the ability to absolve and punish souls in Inferno. You can do this after knocking down random foes and it can net you either white or red orbs. White corresponds to holy while red is to unholy. These two categories are the two power/skill trees in the game. If I’m not mistaken, the powers look quite the same with the exception of the red or white glow during your power moves. However, the part about this I really enjoyed the most was when you encountered historical and literary figures mentioned in Dante’s epic poem. You have the choice whether to absolve or punish the likes of Pontius Pilate, a prominent figure in Jesus’ crucifixion, and Orpheus who is a character in Greek mythology.
Praise aside, the graphics in this game aren’t that amazing and the game can get tiresome with the repetitive hack and slash. I can understand why reviewers would usually give this game just a seven. If I had no idea what Dante’s Inferno was all about, then I would probably call this an okay or good game. However, I’m giving this game nine out of ten mostly because it is a solid interpretation that was enjoyable to play through. I really appreciate the substantial level of detail and writing the team put into this video game.
Visceral said that there was no plans for a sequel. A sad thing to hear considering the game ended in a cliffhanger that provided a teaser resembling the beginnings of Dante’s next canticle Purgatorio. However, word on the grapevine is there might be a sequel after all. If there is one, it’s most likely a next-generation title and seeing Purgatorio and Paradiso on a PS4 or Xbox One is something I’m definitely looking forward to.
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