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Dante's Inferno

Dante's Inferno

Dante's Inferno

Dante's Inferno is a 2010 action-adventure video game developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. The game was also released on the PlayStation Portable and was developed by Artificial Mind and Movement. The story is based on Inferno, the first canticle of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, and shares many similarities with the poem. The game includes damned found in appropriate circles of hell and various other monsters from the poem. The game follows the exploits of Dante as he journeys through the nine circles of Hell to reclaim the soul of his beloved Beatrice from the hands of Lucifer.

Dante's Inferno Plot

During the Third Crusade, the story follows Dante, a crusader who, despite his faith, has committed numerous atrocities during the war. At the city of Acre, Dante is entrusted to keep a group of Saracen prisoners safe so King Richard I could obtain a holy relic from Saladin. But when the prisoners are brutally slaughtered, Dante is given orders to take the holy relic. During the attack, Dante is stabbed in the back by an assassin, whereupon Death appears before him. Despite being led by a Bishop to believe his sins were absolved "en post facto", Dante is ruled by Death to be condemned to "everlasting damnation for sins." Dante refuses to accept his fate, vows to redeem himself, and destroys Death, taking his scythe. Dante leaves the Crusade, stitching a red holy cross-shaped tapestry onto his torso, which depicts every sin he has committed in the past. He returns to Florence, only to find his lover Beatrice Portinari and father Alighiero brutally murdered. Beatrice's soul appears before Dante, telling him that she knew he would come after her before a shadowy manifestation of Lucifer drags her into darkness. After making it to a chapel, Dante blesses the holy cross that Beatrice gave to him upon making their vows to be true to each other, to protect him against the evils that await. Upon doing so, a crack in the earth opens up, allowing Dante to descend to the Gates of Hell.

At the Gates, he encounters Virgil, who knows of Dante's past sins, yet agrees to guide him through the Nine Circles of Hell in exchange for Beatrice putting in a word for him in Heaven. Dante begins his descent at the shores of Hell where the newly damned souls are forced aboard the great ferry of Charon. Dante forces Charon to sail him across. After this, Charon is destroyed when Dante tears his head off using a beast-mount. After arriving at Limbo, Dante confronts the serpentine Judge of the Damned, King Minos. After Minos denies Dante passage deeper into Hell, Dante fights the Judge and kills him. Dante then enters the second circle, Lust, where he enters the Carnal Tower to find Beatrice, whose soul is slowly being corrupted into a succubus by Lucifer, who also reveals to her that Dante broke his vows to Beatrice with a captive woman back in Acre, in exchange for sparing the life of her "brother". Reaching the top of the tower, Dante confronts and slays the gigantic Queen Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony. Entering the third circle Gluttony, Dante slays its guardian the "Great Worm" Cerberus. It is here where Lucifer shows Dante how Beatrice and his father Alighiero met their demise, both being slain by the assassin from Acre, revealed to be the "brother" of the woman Dante slept with, yet is actually her husband.

In the fourth circle; Greed, Dante encounters the greatly deformed soul of his father Alighiero promised by Lucifer a millennium free of torment and a hoard of gold if he kills his own son. After overcoming the puzzles of the fallen God of Wealth Plutus, Dante defeats Alighiero and absolves him. In the fifth circle, Anger, Dante begins to float across the vile River Styx on what appears to be a floating platform. Upon reaching the other side, however, the platform is in fact the top of the head of the gigantic fiery demon Phlegyas who then proceeds to attack Dante. Overcoming this, Lucifer appears before Dante with Beatrice who, broken-hearted by Dante's betrayals in Acre, willingly gives herself to Lucifer by eating the forbidden fruit. Dante rides atop Phlegyas who he controls to smash down the walls of the City of Dis and into the sixth circle, Heresy. Beyond lies the seventh circle, Violence, where Dante traverses its harsh landscape, including Phlegethon and the Wood of Suicides. Within the woods Dante encounters his own mother Bella who now hangs from the trees, where he becomes deeply saddened and enraged having been told as a child that she died of an illness but in fact hanged herself because of the cruelty of his father. Absolving her of her sin, he continues beyond the woods to the Abominable Sands for those violent against God, where Dante also encounters his former comrade Crusader and future brother-in-law Francesco, who is now a horribly disfigured version of his former self with various swords protruding from his back, who now desires revenge against Dante for his state of being. Upon defeating Francesco, Dante absolves him and descends into the eighth circle, Fraud.

Before Dante can reach Lucifer, Beatrice puts him through the challenges of ten stages of the Malebolge where each depicts the fraudsters throughout history from simple thieves to the false Popes. At the entrance of the ninth and last circle, Treachery, where Dante insists to Beatrice that he has faced all of his sins. Beatrice reminds him that he slaughtered the Saracen prisoners out of anger and that Francesco died taking the blame for it. Realizing (and accepting) that he has sinned beyond redemption, Dante admits that "his place is in Hell and Beatrice's is in Heaven" and asks for Beatrice to forgive him. This act of supreme sacrifice undoes the evil transformation of Beatrice and restores her to her former self. As Dante watches, the Archangel Gabriel descends from Heaven and carries Beatrice's soul away, promising Dante that he will see Beatrice again and that his redemption is close at hand. Journeying through the icy realm of Treachery and fighting his way to Lake Cocytus, Dante finally confronts Lucifer himself, an enormous three-faced demon chained within the frozen lake. After defeating the giant demon, Lucifer reveals that by reaching the final circle, Dante has proved himself worthy of freeing him from his prison. On his journey through the Circles of Hell, Dante had destroyed several enormous chains to proceed, which Lucifer revealed to be the Chains of Judecca, which kept him imprisoned in Lake Cocytus and inside the body of the giant three headed demon. Lucifer emerges from the giant monster in his true form, a horned, satyr-like monster, and battles Dante after revealing that he merely used Beatrice as bait to get Dante to break the chains and free him. Through great struggle, Dante is able to defeat Lucifer and impales him on Death's Scythe. Lucifer then summons the vision of the assassin stabbing Dante in Acre; Dante is horrified to realize he died in Acre and thus cannot leave Hell, which is forbidden by God. Lucifer gleefully reveals that, now free, he will rise from Hell, overthrow God and seize Heaven, eliminating all that is good from the universe forever. But Dante, with the many souls he gained through his trials, absolves himself and re-imprisons Lucifer deeper in the ice once again before being taken to Purgatory by an archangel. Here, Dante sees the freed soul of Beatrice awaiting him in Paradise. The final scene shows Dante at the step of Mount Purgatory ripping the tapestry off of his chest before it disintegrates revealing a snake that slithers away as Lucifer's laugh rings out, implying that Lucifer will make his way to Heaven and take his revenge.

Dante's Inferno Gameplay

Dante's Inferno is an action-adventure game. The player controls Dante, the game's protagonist, and engages in fast-paced combat, platforming and environment-based puzzles. In the game, Dante's primary weapon is Death's scythe that can be used in a series of combination attacks and finishing moves. His secondary weapon is a Holy Cross that fires a volley of energy as a projectile attack. In addition, Dante can use numerous magic based attacks and abilities channeled from a mana pool to help in combat, many of which are obtained as the game progresses. A quick time event system is used when attempting to discharge the demon of its master and during boss fights, where players must press the highlighted button on screen in order to continue the chain of attacks, or be countered and wounded otherwise.

Many attack combinations and abilities can be unlocked in exchange for souls, an in-game currency that is collected upon defeating enemies or locating soul fountains. Each of these skills fall into two categories; Holy (represented by blue orbs) or Unholy (represented by red orbs) skill trees. At the beginning of the game, both skill trees are equal in power, but as Dante gains more Holy and Unholy experience, more abilities become available for purchase. Experience is collected through the game's "Punish or Absolve" system, where upon defeating enemies, Dante can either punish and dismember them or absolve and save them with the Holy Cross. Much experience can also be accumulated in punishing or absolving the damned souls of many famous figures in history that appear in Dante Alighieri's original The Divine Comedy whereupon choosing their fates, players enter a mini game where the characters' "sins" move towards the center of the screen, pressing required action symbols once the sin is in place. Players are rewarded with more souls and experience as the number of sins collected increases.

The game involves large sections of platforming, including swinging between ropes and climbing walls, both of which can involve hazards such as fire or swinging blades. There is also a series of environment-based puzzle sequences that can impair the progress of Dante's quest, such as requiring the correct positioning of movable objects or pulling levers at the appropriate time. In addition, there are numerous hidden passages where Biblical relics can be found and equipped to improve Dante's abilities.

Reception
Upon its release, Dante's Inferno received mixed to positive reviews from critics overall. While there was substantial praise for the art style and level design, numerous critics drew unfavorable comparisons with Sony's popular God of War series, among other more fundamental criticisms, such as monotonous and repetitive gameplay in the latter half of the game.

One of the most praised aspects was the game's depiction of Hell, considered creative yet graphic in nature. GamePro found the unique designs of the circle of Hell to be "impressively constructed", getting "a lot of mileage out of the unique setting". While some critics like IGN acknowledged the liberties taken with the original source material, they still observed that "much of what you see is appropriate for a game that tries to explore the extreme nature of Hell and its punishments", calling the overall style "visually impressive". Other critics like GameSpy even found some enemy and setting designs "shocking" yet still could "appreciate that this is Hell, and it's supposed to be disturbing".

However, some reviews felt the creativity waned towards the end of the game, such as GameSpot who felt "Dante's epic quest loses momentum long before you reach the end", praising earlier levels such as Lust and Gluttony yet criticizing the 10 stage challenge level of Fraud and the use of enemies outside of their respective circle. Official PlayStation Magazine UK also echoed this view, saying that the game was "just going through motions for the last three or four hours", despite what it considered to have a "robust fighting system" and being "visually strong".

The most recurring comment over the gameplay of Dante's Inferno was its similarities to the God of War games. Destructoid felt that being similar to what is regarded as a great game is a positive by stating "You're not going to find a wholly original gameplay experience with Dante's Inferno, but that doesn't mean it's not a hell of an entertaining package - it's one that fans of action shouldn't miss." Eurogamer on the other hand felt the game was "a God of War clone at its core", that while "not a terrible game, it's just not an original one", a view Game Trailers echoed by stating "battles can be engaging, but lack some of the grace and refinement exhibited by games like God of War". While Game Informer also found the gameplay to be too familiar, they did find the additional elements such as the punish/absolve mechanic and usable relics to give "Dante’s Inferno some individuality".

Regarding such similarities, in an interview for Official PlayStation Magazine UK, God of War III director Stig Asmussen instead praised the game, stating "We've been intrigued about Dante's Inferno. This is my favourite genre, and the more people that are making the better", going on to say "and this is a really rich story they're building on, it's very interesting. The day that the demo came out we were trying to download it on PSN at midnight. We all wanted to see it."

United States NPD Group sales data showed that the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Dante's Inferno sold 242,500 and 224,700 copies respectively in the month of February 2010. The two editions also debuted together on the UK's top 10 games list for that month.


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