Claiming that the game Dante’s Inferno was inspired by The Divine Comedy is like claiming that the hot dog was inspired by filet mignon. The only tangible element that the game and Dante’s poem have in common is that they both involve visits to hell.
Dante, the game’s main character, is a bland-faced Crusader who appears to be on a quest to find a Dirk The Daring look-alike contest. After a brief tutorial that introduces you to your weak attacks and strong attacks, Death shows up, ready to usher Dante’s soul into the underworld. But Dante, feeling stubborn, decides he isn’t ready to go, and he wrestles Death’s gigantic bone-scythe weapon away and chops him in half with it. Who knew Death was such a candy-ass?
The game’s gruesome enemies start off small and manageable, but eventually became larger and more annoying. Once you’ve defeated an enemy, you decide via a quick-time mini-game whether to punish its soul, or absolve it like a televangelist. Punishment unlocks new “unholy” abilities; absolution unlocks “holy” abilities. Don't fret too much over the decision, though. Both sets of abilities consist of the clichéd double-dashes and super-moves found in most third-person action games.
Around 10 minutes into the game, the first honest-to-goodness naked boob is revealed, when Dante finds his beloved, Beatrice. Like most videogame nudity, hers isn’t germane to the experience, and as a result, it comes off as juvenile and misogynistic, particularly since she’s impaled on a sword.
Levels are structured around the poem’s circles of hell, each of which is punctuated with a fight against a large boss character. The Circle Of Lust, for example, ends with a battle against an oversized Cleopatra who secretes tiny evil demon babies from her right breast. If this sounds like Sony’s God Of War, that’s because Dante’s Inferno wants nothing more than to be a vaguely literary, controversy-inducing God Of War clone with a greater gross-out factor. But Dante’s knucklehead, tit-pursuing bravery feels misguided—and worse still, insincere when compared to Kratos’ pure, self-interested anger.
Finally, no matter how dark the God Of War games get, they always maintained a zesty Clash Of The Titans-style cheesiness and energy. Not Dante’s Inferno. The game’s rivers of blood, corpse-piles, and wailing souls make for a morbid, depression-inducing milieu. It’s a relief to be shut out of the place once the final credits roll.