EA’s behind closed doors demonstrations at E3 all work the same way. You line up outside of small cubicle-like rooms, waiting to watch a developer show you some of the coolest parts of a game: after all that, you may or may not get to play it. Dante’s Inferno was one of the latter cases, and although I was extremely disappointed in missing out on a hands-on experience, the video was well worth the wait.
If you’re wondering whether EA’s last statements regarding Dante’s Inferno “not doing anything new” are true, I’ll tell you now: it really doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t look spectacular, and seem like a ton of fun to play.
(Note: EA didn’t allow us to take pictures of anything regarding the demonstration, but the above header is from the official EA E3 press kit).
Thousands of people around the world are waiting for the definitive answer: is Dante’s Inferno just “God of War in Hell?” While it’s too soon to give a definitive answer, from what I’ve seen, there were quite a few similarities. Dante even has the square square triangle lunging slow motion attack as Kratos, and Dante’s scythe is retractable, just like the blades of olympus.
Dante also double jumps (which Kratos earns in the God of War series) , and recharges health from soul wells (also found in Onimusha). In addition, after you hurt a mini-boss or boss creature enough, a button prompt comes up on the screen, followed by a mini-QTE that instant-kills the minis, or opens the main bosses up for attacks. This time, instead of God of War’s circle button prompt, it’s R2.
Jumping right into gameplay, the developer explains that they have just killed Death himself, and stolen his signature scythe. Enemies immediately spawn from the floor, and chaos ensues. As the camera pans back a bit, you suddenly realize you are actually riding ON Charron, the ferryman for the river Styx (yes, Charron IS an actual vessel now, and not a cool looking hooded creature).
The giant bull creature from the above image slams in, and after subduing it, you’re allowed to ride on top, effectively making it a vehicle. What’s a typical day in the life of a Bull? I don’t know: walking around, seeing the sights, and snapping Charron’s head off. After landing, the developers skip ahead to the gatekeeper of Hell, which seems like a pretty easy boss fight (dodge, chip the boss away with your attacks, QTE, attack his weak spot, repeat).
Interestingly enough, while a large amount of the public screenshots make the game look generic, the designs we saw were breathtaking:often trumping similar games in the genre. We were told that the artist who designed many of the creatures from the Hellboy and Harry Potter films contributed to Dante’s Inferno. The highlighted enemy design was the female “gluttony” mini-boss, which is fought very similarly to the Gorgons and Minotaurs from God of War. Gluttony’s design was extremly putrid, but also interesting.
Horrificly, Gluttony actually tries to eat you, forcing you to mash circle to escape. After quite a few hits, the creature became exhausted, and the R2 button symbol flashed on it (what time is it? Business time!). Dante leaps over the enemy with a few QTE button presses, sticks his scythe inside the creature’s mouth, jabs it in, and cuts it’s body in half from the inside. From what I’ve seen, the QTE sequences for both the boss and mini-boss sections of the game are just as satisfying as others in the genre. One thing I did notice in particular that didn’t draw it’s influence from the game’s direct, action competitors was the use of the scythe as a “hookshot” of sorts, similar to the Legend of Zelda series.
The developers were constantly noting the fact that Dante’s Inferno the game was “faithful to the source material”. Although the entire premise of the game as an action title supersedes this point, the attention spent to the dialogue narrated by Vergil and the architecture/level designs is phenomenal.
I really enjoyed it when the developer started to read off descriptions from the real epic poem, right as he was showing them off on screen. Honestly, the renditions were quite accurate. The speaker also noted that Vergil’s dialogue in-game would be a word-for-word translation from the poem. Cool? I’d certainly say so.
The comparison with God of War will be unavoidable once more people see it’s gameplay. I’m a bit worried that the action genre may be oversaturated by the time God of War III and Dante’s Inferno release, and EA’s latest creation might not get the attention that it deserves. From what I’ve seen of the new footage, Dante’s Inferno seems to do exactly what it set out to: please hardcore action fans, and deliver a unique underworld narrative experience.
Was I blown away by the demonstration? Not particularly, but as time goes on, I start to learn more and more great things about Dante’s Inferno.