Last night, at 2am, I finished the acclaimed EA videogame titled Dante’s Inferno. It is among the many things that I have read, watched, and enjoyed that use Dante’s epic poem as source material. Niven and Pournelle’s Inferno (and sequel), Camus’ The Fall, T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock, and a host of other things are good representations of Dante’s version of Hell, and they do good work with the source material. I like the idea of transferring concepts from work to work (I posted about that before), and I think that Inferno is probably one of the most resonant works in Western history.
That said, Dante’s Inferno was a piece of shit.
I like to think that I’m the kind of person that can give a fair review of things, and though I often fall into the trap of talking about how things make me feel, I understand tha objectivity is necessary in order to communicate ideas to other people.
…but, fuck that. Dante’s Inferno, in its very concept, makes me want to explode. While the original poem is more an atlas of hell, as well as a philosophical argument about the nature of redemption, the video game is just beats you over the head with shit that’s BIG and FIGHTS. I’m not sure what the message of the game was supposed to be. Yes, I do think that some games have messages, and with some it’s pretty clear. The Bioshock series is about the question of the Self and what makes a person. The Halo series is about conflict between peoples and how cohesion and peace is supposed to work. Fuck, Devil May Cry 4 was all about beating the shit out of the Catholic Church.
What was Dante’s Inferno about? It was about Dante, a total asshat in life, who dies and goes to hell to save his girlfriend for some really vague reasons. Then, get this, he continues to do the same terrible shit that he did in life all the way through hell. Apparently killing demons for health isn’t gluttenous, hoarding souls to cash them in isn’t sinful, and being so wrathful that you punch Satan in the fucking face to death is a-ok with the big man upstairs as long as you get a positive message out of it.
So maybe I’m not meant to take it this seriously, but even at the bare bones of the game, it’s pretty poor. No matter if you go Holy or Unholy (the two skill trees), when you hit level 7 of either the game is over because you’re way too badass. I died a lot, and I mean a lot, and the game still took me less than ten hours. The lack of a targeting system, or basically any system that would tell the game what you want to do, means that you end up wailing on the Hard Attack and the Soft Attack buttons for hours on end.
In the end, I have to say that I hated the game, and that I think it was so vapid that it made my ears bleed, but I had fun while playing it. I never really got tired of punching demons with my cross, and the enemies are cheap enough to make me scream in frustration at least once every ten minutes, which is my goal for a beat-em-up game.
Short Version: It was so godawful, and yet for some reason I played all 8.5 hours.