Hands-On Preview: Did you ever notice a lot of these guys are named Danted?
With so many great games like Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, God of War, and the Devil May Cry series, how does a new guy to the hack and slash genre get its foot in the door? Dante's Inferno is usually referred to by many as a God of War clone, but can you really blame Viscreal Games for stealing ideas from arguably the best franchise of the genre? Although any similarities should be forgiven as some of the people working on the game also worked on the God of War series. For the uninitiated, Dante's Inferno is loosely based on Inferno, Dante Aligheri's first book in his Divine Comedy. The player takes control of Dante, a veteran of the Third Crusade whose beloved Beatrice was taken from him by Lucifer himself. Dante being the strapping hero he is vows to reclaim his love, and journeys into the Nine Circles of Hell to rescue Beatrice from Lucifer. The story was written by Will Rokos, who also wrote Monster's Ball. While some trailers have shown later levels of Hell, I recently played a demo that took you from the beginning of the game.
The demo starts and the player sees Dante huddled by a fire alone in the woods. The camera zooms in and the player sees Dante stitching a red tapestry in the form of a cross into his skin. The tapestry represents an act of repentance for his sins that he committed in the Crusades. After an extremely painful stitch, which is shown in beautiful detail by a cinematic, the player is sent to a flashback which shows the Siege of Acre which Dante participated in under King Richard's command. Dante and his fellow knights have successfully laid siege to Acre and are now holding the citizens hostage in exchange for a holy relic. The knights get bored and soon begin to kill civilians, this is where the player takes over as Dante. Before Dante can slaughter innocents he has to first fight through a few waves of swordsmen. These small waves introduce the player to the gameplay of Dante's inferno. Dante's Inferno does in fact play much like God of War, not that this is a bad thing at all. Using Dante's trusty pole axe players quickly decimate the swordsmen using light and heavy attacks. After killing enough swordsmen, Dante is ready to slaughter some innocents, but just as Dante enters the city an assassin sneaks behind Dante, and stabs him in the back. As the assassin runs away Dante comes face to face with Death. Death tells Dante he will be eternally damned. Dante refuses to accept his fate, and attacks Death. Death serves as a quick ?mini-boss? to the player, in this battle the player learns how to master the arts of evading, jump attacking, and blocking. Once Death has had enough Dante disarms Death of his scythe, and attacks Death with it mostly using quick time events just like in God of War. Death begs for mercy, and Dante ends his pleading with one swing of the scythe that cuts Death clean in two.
This ends the Crusades for Dante, and players see a cinematic of Dante returning home, with his new found weapon, only to find his beloved Beatrice in the backyard with a sword through her stomach. Dante runs to his love, and spreads her lips apart. A white substance comes from her mouth, and changes into the shape of Beatrice. Beatrice explains that she told him that Dante would come back for her, but before Beatrice can explain who him is a dark spirit appears behind her, and drags her away from Dante. The cinematic ends, and the player takes control of Dante from the backyard as he battles his way through the cemetery and to the church with style and power. Once reaching the church, you see a green liquid in a fountain by the doors. This green liquid is a type of health potion for Dante. After the player regains his health, Dante enters the church and sees Beatrice being tortured by evil spirits on the altar. Dante runs to his love, Beatrice turns to him and asks why did Dante break his vow? Dante cannot respond before Lucifer drags her to Hell. All that remains on the altar is a white imprint of a cross. Dante removes a cross from his pocket, a gift from Beatrice as told in a quick flashback, and places it on the imprint. The cross suddenly begins to glow white, and is given special powers. Which is great because as soon as the cinematic ends flying minions appear, and the player learns that the cross is in fact a range weapon that shoots off a white substance known as ?Divine Energy?. After destroying the flying minions Dante learns another unique ability of his scythe. The scythe can pull in minions which gives the player the choice to either absolve the minion or punish the minion. Punishing the minion leads to an awesome death scene, but also causes Dante to gain Unholy experience points. These Unholy experience points can be used to buy upgrades for your scythe, while absolving the minions leads to an exorcism like scene and gives the player Holy experience points. With Holy points Dante can buy upgrades to his cross.
After killing the minions in the altar room, Dante continues his search further into the church where he slaughters more and more minions until he finally reaches Hell's Gates. At Hell's Gates Dante finds the Roman poet Virgil. Virgil quickly explains to him that Beatrice pleaded with Virgil to help Dante save her. Obviously Virgil must have agreed because he gives Dante a new ability, Magic (who would've guessed?)! It's a simple ice attack, and will help the player because just as the brief conversation between Dante and Virgil ends more minions appear. After the player puts his new magic ability to the test, a huge Hell's Beast breaks down a wall. Hell's Beasts are sort of like a mini-boss, except Dante doesn't kill them he simply attacks them enough until he can pull himself up using his scythe to take out the rider, which includes a few quicktime sequences, after taking control of the beast more minions appear. But seeing as now you're controlling a huge monster these minions take no time at all to wipe out. After wiping out the last of the minions in front of Hell's Gate Dante leads the beast to the gate where he pulls it open, thus ending the demo.