Through Hell and back


Don’t be alarmed, everything’s gonna be okay, but you’re dead and you’re going to Hell, and God is choosing not to help you; I can’t say I’ve ever played a game with a more enticing description.

Dante’s Inferno follows the story of a Templar knight/Crusader who has been killed by a Saracin assassin and sent to Hell for committing a myriad of sins. The story is recognizable as a skewed video game rendition of a poem from the 14th century called the Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy was split into three parts, this game focuses on one, the Inferno. In the game, Dante’s wife, Beatrice, has gambled her soul that Dante will remain faithful to herself and God, causing her to lose her soul when Dante commits various sins while on the Crusade.

The game starts with the Templar knight, Dante being attacked and the Grim Reaper attempting to cart him off to the Underworld. Dante then fights him, making the Grim Reaper the first major boss of the game whose scythe Dante steals so he can safely pass into Hell and retrieve Beatrice. Dante travels through the nine layers of Hell, each of which displays to him instances of him either committing these sins or some reason he’s been affected by them.

Each layer has a different signature enemy and boss pertaining to it specifically, and a vastly different landscape. For instance, in the second layer, Lust, Dante encounters queen Cleopatra. Her character is based off of queen Semiramis, who legalized prostitution in Assyria during her reign. In the layer of Greed, Dante encounters his own father who used terrible business practices and extortion to become wealthy. Because of this, Dante feels personally responsible for both he and his father’s salvation, and therefore must fight his father who embodies his inner demons.

The game also includes various tokens of historical and Biblical references, such as collecting the 30 pieces of silver given to Judas in exchange for Jesus’ life. Being a Templar, a soldier on behalf of God, Dante has the ability to absolve people of their sins in the way a priest does. Occasionally, Dante will encounter a historically relevant person such as Attila the Hun, sometimes called the Scourge of God because of his actions against the Holy Roman Empire, or Pontius Pilate, the Roman General and judge who sentenced Jesus to crucifiction.

At the risk of being cliché, this game was actually one of the more romantic stories I’ve encountered. Dante doesn’t just claim he’d die for Beatrice, he literally dies and then traverses all nine layers of Hell and agrees to stay there for her.

The only flaw I can find in this game is that its gameplay quickly becomes repetitive. Dante’s fighting style only changes marginally throughout the game, to the point where the game becomes what’s known as a “button masher”. Boss battles also become tedious as they are almost completely made up of what are called “quick time events”, where the player leaves the traditional gameplay and uses a combination of buttons to operate a cinematic.

This game’s plot struck me in a way that I rarely experience with a game so action packed. Not only was it fun and interesting, but it made me actually feel for Dante, rather than just use him to distribute aggression upon demons.

4 out of 5 thorny crowns