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Published:February 22nd, 2010 17:28 EST

Dante's Inferno, Great Book, Not So Great Game

By Tony Graff

Due to excessive nerdiness, Dante`s Inferno has been ranked as my favorite book. I`ve read the 14th century poem twice, and loved every page of it. Naturally when I heard that a game was soon to be released, I got excited. Preliminary images and press releases kept fueling it, till I actually got a chance to see the gameplay and actually experience the game. Then my inner child started to cry. 

dantes inferno
It begins with the... mercenary Dante coming back from the Crusades. Strike one. He returns home to see his love, Beatrice, murdered and her soul being dragged to Hell. That threw me off but didn`t turn me away from the game. In the Divine Comedy, Beatrice never touched Hell, but was Dante`s guide through Heaven. That negligence/ change was forgivable. 

Then comes the part where Dante stitches a cross onto his chest. Not a little pendant, but a big leather piece of fabric that covers a large part of his torso. Strike two. While it might somehow have made him who he is, that kind of self mutilation is usually reserved for people in serious need of psychological help. Then he descends to Hell, stealing Death`s scythe along the way. Throw in a bunch of naked women, and it now goes in the bin half of the anime kingdom falls into: Fanservice is about the most interaction with the other gender they experience. Strike three. 

Once you get down to playing the game, and descending the circle, it`s kinda accurate to the masterpiece that Dante had created. And by accurate, I only mean the backgrounds and stuff that isn`t important to the game. Virgil, the essential guide of Dante through the dark circles of Hell, can very well be replaced by a signpost in the game. Descending each circle is mindless hacking and slashing reminiscent of God of War or Dynasty Warrior, interrupted by the occasional bit of storyline, where Dante encounters a spirit he can pass judgement on. I`m willing to bet most people skip through that so they can get back to actually playing the game, neglecting the fact that the spirits he meets are actual spirits from the poem. 

I`m still holding out for a great work to be made from the Divine Comedy. In the hands of an artist, Dante`s Inferno could be made in to a movie to rival the Lord of the Rings trilogy or Avatar. This game gets... maybe one point out of ten, because many of the images and scenes feel accurate to Hell. Just another example of peripherals taking the place of story. Don`t waste your money renting it. Or buying it. Reading the book and playing out the scenes with a handful of old action figures will have the same result.