If there's nothing else you can really say about Dante's Inferno, the upcoming video game from EA, there is the fact that nobody could have predicted this game being made. Seriously what sort of mad scientist comes up with the idea to turn a story that basically shaped the Middle Ages mindset as to what Hell was into a video game? This is one of the strangest ideas for a mainstream video game but from what was shown at E3 this year there are some high hopes for the title.
Your excuse from traveling through the nine layers of Hell is that Lucifer, the lord of Hell, has taken the love of your life, Beatrice, and you have to get her back. To do this Dante punches out Death itself, steals his scythe and begins his descent into the very depths of Hell.
One of the very first things that was noticed when they started up the gameplay demo is just how good the game looks. Every aspect of Dante's Inferno has a venomously dark gothic look to it from the enemies to the backgrounds to Dante himself. It doesn't come off as over the top though considering the material you're working with. Hell shouldn't be sunshine and roses after all. Best of all the game ran remarkably smoothly the whole way through even while there was a whole lot of action going on at once.
The core of the fighting in Dante's Inferno comes from his scythe and his cross. The scythe is a multi-purpose weapon and tool with numerous abilities. The weapon is able to stretch to swipe foes from a distance while making large sweeping attacks that will take out nearby foes. It can also be used to decapitate stunned opponents or grapple to certain points on the level. He also has a cross that he uses to fire off energy blasts at foes or leap into the air and slam the ground sending out a shockwave of energy.
At E3 a demo was shown that consisted of Dante making his assault on the first stage of Hell, Limbo. The ferryman, Charon, has been reimagined as a giant boat with a head on the front and you ride him towards Hell. But as you go you're attacked by hordes of demons culminating in you taking control of a giant beast from its rider, using it to tear the head off of Charon and then climb some collapsing walls to get into Hell.
The game attempts to remain faithful to the books geography so you will find yourself exploring nine layers of Hell. The first is Limbo while the next seven are based upon the seven deadly sins with enemies themed to each of the levels. So when moving through Limbo you will meet unbaptized children and in Gluttony you will encounter bloated naked women who vomit on you and will try to eat you. There is also going to be a level based upon Dante's own personal sins, his own personal hell of sorts.
Only one boss monster was showcased but that one, King Minos, was really impressive. Looking like a human with a snake's body he uses numerous dangerous attacks that require jumping, dodging and grappling to get away from. Weakening him by attacking his hand, using quick-time events and beating on his vulnerable pink stomach he is eventually weakened enough to be dispatched in a suitably horrific manner. Not only is it incredibly disgusting to watch but it was also incredibly cool at the same time. The other large beast that was shown, Fleggius, wasn't a boss per se but more of an obstruction that was trying to punish you for crossing the River Styx.
There was some talk from the developers about being able to punish or absolve souls of their sins which would have long term impact on your abilities but this wasn't expounded upon. However it does sound as if this might add some sorely needed replay value to this sort of game
Look for Dante's Inferno to hit store shelves sometime early 2010 in all of its gore soaked glory.