God of War III has some stiff competition as Dante’s Inferno is about as epic as they come.
When talking about 2010 there are a few titles that immediately come to mind. Mass Effect 2, Halo Reach, and especially God of War III rank among the most anticipated. Having now played Dante’s Inferno I can say without a doubt that it not only deserves to rank up there next to God of War III, but it has the potential to surpass it. A bold statement I know, but play the demo and you will understand.
For those who haven’t been following the game, Dante’s Inferno is based on the Divine Comedy written by Dante Alighieri. You must battle through the Nine Circles of Hell to reclaim your love Beatrice. You start off as a simple member of the Crusade in the religious wars that took place in the 12th century in the Middle East. Prisoners break free of their cages and begin to attack you. The combat style is almost directly copied from God of War but that is by no means a bad thing. Your combos flow well, though not as smoothly as in God of War. Upon dispatching the attacking prisoners a burning ship crashes near you granting you passage into the next area.
Shortly afterwards you are stabbed in the back by a surviving prisoner. Death comes to claim your soul and you are told that your actions have damned you to eternal torment. Dante, none too pleased at discovering this after all the Crusaders were forgiven for their sins by the Bishop, tells Death that he will redeem his soul. You are thrown into battle against Death so that you may save yourself from eternal damnation. In the final blows of the battle you not only claim Death’s scythe as your own, but you slay him with it in a God of War style quick time event.
After a brief cut scene, shown in a style similar to the pre-launch Dead Space motion comics, you return home to see Beatrice and begin your quest toward redemption. However things never seem to work out that easy and you find Beatrice dead. Minions of Hell take her soul and leave you to dispatch those that remain. At this point you gain access to the upgrade menus. Upgrades run much deeper than in God of War. There are two skill trees, Unholy and Holy, which feature different types of abilities. Using the souls gathered from fallen enemies you unlock new abilities such as new attacks and abilities or improvements to ones you already possess. You can gain favor in one tree or the other in how you kill your enemies. When you grapple an enemy you have the choice to punish or save them. Your choice will progress that particular skill tree granting you more abilities of that type.
As you chase Beatrice you will enter a church being torn apart to reveal the depths of Hell beneath it. You will press on fighting through traps and other obstacles as you continue lower and lower. Finally you will reach a poet, likely meant to symbolize Dante Alighieri, whom Beatrice asked to act as your guide. He grants you your first spell and you will be introduced to new enemies. The new enemies are similar to the Minotaur in God of War. As if you couldn’t already tell having experience in God of War will make this game an easier experience.
Once the final creature has been slain a giant boss monster breaks through the wall. Once you have weakened it enough you kill its master and take control of the creature yourself. More creatures spawn around you but they are no match for the strength of your beast. The demo ends in the worst place possible, as you open what appears to be the door to Hell itself.
Now I realize that I said several times that this or that felt like God of War. While the game is very similar, it manages to feel like an entirely different experience with its story. Rather than the classic tale of vengeance found in God of War you are driven by desire in Dante’s Inferno. The desire to reclaim your love, the desire for redemption, and most importantly, the desire to see what happens next. Dante’s Inferno has an excellent story to drive it forward and keep it feeling fresh.
As a side note, the game looks fantastic and runs at an oh so smooth 60 frames per-second throughout. The art style is truly hellish and sets up a great atmosphere. There is no doubt in my mind that Dante’s Inferno will be a fantastic game when it releases and will be one of the top games 2010 has to offer. The only question now is whether or not the veteran badass Kratos will be able to keep up or if Dante will steal his thunder.
Dante’s Inferno is set to release on February 9th 2010 on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PSP. The demo is available now on the Playstation Network and will be available on December 24th on Xbox Live.