Dante's Inferno
E3 2009: Dante's Inferno Preview - Visceral Invite You To Go To Hell
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Dante’s Inferno, for those living under a rock or at the bottom of the sea, is a video game adaptation of the classic literature, Divine Comedy, from Dante Alighieri. Written in the early 14th century, Divine Comedy is a poem that documents Dante’s trip through the three areas of the afterlife and Dante’s Inferno looks to focus on the first of those three areas which takes place in Hell itself. Seeing as the original poem never really told a story per se, Visceral (formerly EA Redwood Shores, AKA Dead Space developer) had to exercise a little artistic license here by departing from the poem to add another layer on top; its story. As John Knight Executive Producer on the title put it, Dante’s Inferno is “more pissed off than the version of the poem.”

The story follows Dante on his relentless pursuit of his lifelong love, Beatrice, through the nine circles of Hell; limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery (two of which we saw at the show; limbo and anger). Each circle is a totally unique setting with new environments, characters and enemies, and as you get further into Hell, the darker it becomes. Visceral have promised that where possible, they will stay true to the roots of the poem by recreating the words of Alighieri as accurately as they can possibly do. So much so, Visceral even brought in Wayne Barlowe, who worked on the character design in the Hellboy films, to design the in-game characters and he seems a suitable addition to the team considering his Inferno paintings on a similar subject matter.

Dante’s Inferno is a traditional hack 'n' slash title of similar ilk to Devil May Cry and God of War. The main protagonist, Dante, is equipped with the traditional short range and long range weapons, in this case, Death’s very own scythe and a holy cross that acts as his range weapon. The game’s combat at times seemed more at par with Ninja Gaiden than anything else though as Dante used his scythe just like Ryu Hayabusa did in Ninja Gaiden 2.

Dante himself was a soldier who fought in the crusade wars and on his trip through Hell must face the demons and sins of his own past. The game is based heavily on its combat and action, with Dante himself becoming more of an action hero than he was in the original poem. The combat seemed intuitive enough allowing Dante to link a series of combos together easily enough, with the action being pretty fast paced and in your face. The overall pacing seemed to be a positive aspect of the title as the game moved from combat, to creature taming quite freely, with each aspect never outstaying its welcome. Knight noted that the title does that throughout and also throws in some puzzle and adventure aspects to keep the gameplay fresh.

The presentation kicked off with Dante on his approach to the first circle of Hell, limbo. Dante’s only way into limbo is to board the back of a giant boat, and when I say boat, I of course mean the half boat, half man called Charon, whose job is to ferry the damned across the river into limbo. Whilst crossing the river on Charon’s back, Dante was left to deal with a few of the more standard smaller demons, before, via the obvious quick time event, being able to tame the large creature that appears. The large creature stands at about 10 times the size of Dante, and is just the first of many tameable creatures that will appear in the title. Jumping ahead to the end of limbo, Dante comes up against the first boss fight, taking on King Minos, King of the Dead, who is a giant man with the tail of a snake. The battle was bit QTE heavy for our liking, but it did end in a pretty gory and formidable way ... but we won’t spoil that for you.

Like in the poem, Dante is guided by Virgil who is the game’s recurring narrator and is essentially the voice of the poem. He’s not the only character you can expect to see from the poem, Dante actually encounters plenty of secondary characters throughout. For instance, Dante meets Filippo Argenti just before he boards the boat to cross the River Styx in the fifth circle of Hell; anger. Here Dante got the chance to punish or absolve Filippo and depending on your choice will have a long term impact on how your abilities develop. After seeing Filippo brutally punished, Dante then is fazed with the task of taming the raging boatman of the River Styx, Phlegyas, to get into the city of Dis and gain entrance to the nether Hell and the next four circles. After taking out the Gluttony Minions who are like mini Jabba the Huts with a toxic vomit, your job, via QTE (again), is to tame Phlegyas to enter Dis. After successfully doing this, the camera will pan out and you’ll be left seeing Dante as a mere dot on the screen as you navigate Phlegyas towards Dis.

Dante’s Inferno on first inspection doesn’t look to be adding anything new to the hack 'n' slash genre. In fact, it seems to lend a lot from those that have come before it and sticks to the same traditional mechanics that we’ve come accustomed to over the years. That necessarily isn’t the end of the world or even a bad thing, as long as they can deliver an immersive and entertaining story that does the original poem justice, the title might just be able to stand on its own two feet. The environments and artistic direction, all inspired by the words of the Divine Comedy were dark, atmospheric, moody and right on the money. The action was over-the-top, fast and frenetic and if Visceral can tie the two together with a worthy narrative, then Dante’s Inferno might just escape from being classified as another God of War or Devil May Cry clone. At the moment, it’s looking like their half brother though and they certainly aren’t shy about steering away from the original narrative to replace it with over-the-top and elaborate action. It seems like a kick in the teeth for the literature itself but in the poem’s current form, you couldn’t make a game out of it. The foundations are there for a decent hack 'n' slash game at the moment, but those looking for an educational experience based on one of the greatest literary pieces known to man, may as well just turn and run for the hills now.

Dante’s Inferno will see the light of day on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC some time in 2010.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 11300
Comment #1 by KFZ Scrubs
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 09:26:32 PM
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Can't wait for it to come out!

Forum Posts: 84
Comment #2 by BloodDrunk
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 09:30:14 PM
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Forum Posts: 13
Comment #3 by Schwab17
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 09:33:36 PM
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looks pretty neat

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #4 by Mcmole2
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 09:43:45 PM
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I hope that it's not another hack and slash game, leave those to God of War and Devil May Cry, they know how to make those games. It'll be interesting to see just how they develop the story while keeping it in line with the poem.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #5 by mase111
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 09:47:56 PM
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Looks Awsome

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #6 by Pure LionHeart
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 10:22:34 PM
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"Seeing as the original poem never really told a story per se..."

^Excuse me?

Meh, I've been boycotting the game since its announcement and everything I hear about it continues to justify my position.

Why they needed to desecrate one of the most prized pieces of literature in history to hock a cheesy God Of War ripoff, I'll never know.

Forum Posts: 34
Comment #7 by The Bryceroy
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 10:33:53 PM
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@#4 - "I hope that it's not another hack and slash game"

Do some of you guys even bother reading what the staff takes the time to write? Or bother following the industry at all for that matter? Sheesh.

And I for one am not bothered by The Inferno being artistically portrayed this way. Webb has a point, there really isn't a game in the original poem. Sure there could be a Diablo clone...and a game similar to the King's Quest/Mist stuff on the 90's. But the latter no one really plays anymore and the former, well..Diablo 3 is coming out, we don't NEED another Diablo clone. We don't really need another Gaiden/GoW clone either but those games are damned fun and the nuts and bolts of The Inferno REALLY lend themselves to that kind of game.

Give credit to Visceral for having the balls t

Forum Posts: 83
Comment #8 by ZinDarr
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 10:35:13 PM
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As someone who has not read the original poem, I'm quite excited for this game (although I heard that in the poem Dante was a wussy and would faint at the sight of blood... exaguration?). I'm a fan of hack-and-slash games (Onechanbara, Ninja Blade), and the graphics and interesting enemies I've seen so far have me quite excited.

Forum Posts: 34
Comment #9 by The Bryceroy
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 10:49:59 PM
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Give Visceral credit for having the balls to take on Dante in the same sense that J.J. Abrams should be credited for taking on The Dark Tower and Guillermo del Torro for taking on At the Mountains of Madness.

I'm getting this BECAUSE I loved The Inferno so much.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #10 by Revolver1692
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 11:13:19 PM
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I agree with most of you guys, read the article the staff took time to write! Most people are saying this game is stupid or not going to be good, it looks amazing to me and it comes out next year. Im going to follow this game till it comes out message me if you wanna talk about Dantes Inferno

Forum Posts: 25
Comment #11 by dunderdolt
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 11:19:23 PM
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I'll stay clear because using a cross as a weapon is just stupid.

Forum Posts: 14795
Comment #12 by Webb [STAFF]
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 11:30:52 PM
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@#8 - Yeah, Dante was a little bit on the soft side. For instance, the river crossing with Charon ... in the original poem, Dante faints on the way across the river. In the game, he spends that time fighting demons and ripping large creatures heads off. A little bit of a detraction from the original source, but putting in that Dante, the super action hero in the game, fainted there would seem a little bit out of character. In fact, Dante faints a lot in the poem =P Hardly game selling material.

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #13 by Pure LionHeart
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 11:41:02 PM
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Hence why they should have never used The Divine Comedy setting in the first place. Hell, it's not even a worthwhile IP as there's no chance of a sequel. Is Purgatory suddenly going to be filled with the demons of Hell? Is Heaven going to be taken over by the impotent, defeated, and eternally punished Satan of the the Inferno? It's ludicrous.

In fact, how exactly are they going to do the final boss fight? You just KNOW it's going to be Satan, and yet, that would be one of the biggest affronts to the source material of all.

Forum Posts: 14795
Comment #14 by Webb [STAFF]
Sunday, June 14, 2009 @ 11:58:51 PM
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@#13 - Oh, I agree on the whole source material issue ... it doesn't scream an action game at all. I presume they just wanted to use Alighieri's impressive descriptions of Hell in a game more than anything.

Forum Posts: 14
Comment #15 by soma1991
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 01:00:04 AM
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wow.... get over it they are trying to make something enjoyable.... who cares whether it doesn't follow source material blindly... don't just boycott the game because... well theres no reason.... treat it as a game and not like a movie of a poem... its for entertainment and will hopefully be fun... which is what gaming is meant to be.... -.-

Forum Posts: 14795
Comment #16 by Webb [STAFF]
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 01:22:36 AM
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@#15 - Why is that people have to come in and use the word "boycott" now when we're discussing the foundations of a game? Is that the new "in" word? We weren't talking about anything of the sort.

By your standards then, it's ok to base a game on anything that they could make enjoyable? Do you want me to start churning out examples of how that doesn't work? =P

If you're making an adaptation ... you can't call it an adaptation and then do whatever the hell you want.

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #17 by Pure LionHeart
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 02:10:08 AM
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Such an idea is incredibly faulty, soma. It's a HUGE disrespect the the original source material, as well as it's original creators (Just look at what the movie industry has done to Alan Moore) as well as the established fanbase of the work or characters (Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, for example).

Adaptations can be good, but certain limitations need to be met. You can't just attach the names to characters and have them be/act completely different. In this case, making Dante a crusader is already ridiculous.

I used the word "boycott" originally, actually. A different choice of words should have been used admittedly.

Frankly, I wouldn't mind this game so much if they made it solely about The Divine Comedy's vision of Hell, and left out Dante, Virgil, Beatrice, e

Forum Posts: 199
Comment #18 by n8ryder
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 03:01:56 AM
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This looks great and the poem is great, I'd love to play a version of it, whether or not its true to the original source or not. Im in!

Forum Posts: 274
Comment #19 by Dazz
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 03:56:19 AM
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Yeah I mean I've always thought a videogame or a movie should be made about the poems but I dunno, I'll check it out regardless even if Satan in the poems is frozen in ice in the 9th circle of Hell and left to chew on Judas Iscariot and the other two (who I can't quite recall the names of)

Forum Posts: 15
Comment #20 by Jew Tremin
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 04:29:39 AM
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This should be awesome, even if QTE are sooooo annoying!

Forum Posts: 8
Comment #21 by NeotericDope
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 04:45:40 AM
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To all who ranting about how it's desecrating a great piece of art. Just take it at face value. It's nothing, but a connotation of the Divine Comedy. I.E. the descriptions of hell set forth by the writer.

Do we all scream about them basing other games on classic literature. How about Bioshock for stealing from countless ideologies that are probably considered sacred to people who cherish the classics. Or maybe we should bash God of War for blatantly ripping off ancient Greek ideals of gods and the afterlife. How about any other game, or movie, or author, or any one who puts out a piece of work that takes influence from a classic work. I wouldn't doubt that some of you will be shoving a sock in your mouths if you enjoy the game. You can't make a judgment about the final product until yo

Forum Posts: 297
Comment #22 by gingerCHRIS123
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 04:48:29 AM
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Could be awesome, but could be a let down, i'll wait for the reviews.

Forum Posts: 8
Comment #23 by NeotericDope
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 04:56:57 AM
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at the end**

until you've played it.

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #24 by Ghetto Cheese
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 07:58:34 AM
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hack n slash means i buy, i would love to see how well it relates to the actual poem by dante

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #25 by ZOMBiCUS
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 09:00:22 AM
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This epic masterpiece was BEGGING to be made into a game. Can't wait!

Forum Posts: 594
Comment #26 by MLG=Most Likely Gay
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 09:04:42 AM
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Forum Posts: 28
Comment #27 by y2josh
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 09:34:08 AM
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At #21, God of War and Bioshock aren't running around claiming to be based off any one particular piece of literature or source material, so that logic seems faulty to me. The title of this game strongly suggests that it's based off the poem, which certainly doesn't seem to be the case. I don't personally care either way, as I'm not a huge fan of these types of games, but I can see where LionHeart is coming from.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #28 by Revolver1692
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 11:45:08 AM
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You can just have names from people with litature and then make a game about it but change to whole story, You can totally make a story with Hell, But Dante in the poem was NOT a guy like the game makes it seem he was a wuss. Like people said he fainted from seeing blood what a superhero, just wait for the game to come out to base your opinions.

Forum Posts: 83
Comment #29 by totalstranger
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 12:19:32 PM
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on par with god of war ? sign me up

Forum Posts: 274
Comment #30 by Dazz
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 02:37:12 PM
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@ #28

He only fainted in the poem because he was an ordinary guy, a scholar wishing to see the realms of the dead so he can write about it doesn't he?

I'm ok with the liberties taken and making this version (does it really have to be THE Dante from the poem? Maybe a namesake taking a similar journey?) more like a battle hardened warrior willing to take them on in a fight will hopefully get people interested in the actual poems.

Like I said, I waited for years for a game or a movie to be made about this.

Forum Posts: 176
Comment #31 by Dredgon
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 03:00:11 PM
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I can't wait to see Satan!!!!!

Forum Posts: 5419
Comment #32 by Zef
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 04:36:17 PM
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Bugger. Good looking game, spoiled by the presence of EA =(

Forum Posts: 8
Comment #33 by NeotericDope
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 06:21:36 PM
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I am only trying to bring upon the point that everything uses some sort of source material. And whether or not you state your influences or not they're present. Is the title Dante's Inferno copyrighted and not allowed to be used? Is it diction that's not allowed to be used for reference to make another piece of publishable work? I understand the position of the people, but I feel they are just being inane. The people who're against it act like Visceral is desecrating a piece of sacred material when in all essence it's just a piece of literature. As Mozart is just music. Da Vinci's works are just art. Visceral used the source material and why not wait until the game comes out to see if they found influence in Dante's Inferno and make a good, imaginative game out of it.

Forum Posts: 199
Comment #34 by n8ryder
Monday, June 15, 2009 @ 11:20:39 PM
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Well said

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #35 by Prole 33
Monday, June 22, 2009 @ 08:21:17 AM
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deffo just what i was thinking took the words out off my mouth. spot on an why not its such a good story for a game or film (film maybe not) but the idea is a purfect basis for set levels and everything, i'm sure when dante wrote it he could see the future knowing that it would be a sick idea for a game and would captivate the imagination of soo many people it would be good to see there idea or the way they (the game developers)vision the story rather than my own. p.s people who say it would be a rip off from god of war well your wrong god of war is all about greek myth not hell dumb asses..

Forum Posts: 16
Comment #36 by [Ax2:SG]
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 @ 12:05:45 PM
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I feel like I will love this game...

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Game Info
Visceral Games
Electronic Arts


US February 09, 2010
Europe February 12, 2010

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