Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance is an Xbox 360 port of the shooter Infernal for the PC, and stars Ryan Reynolds Lennox, a fallen angel. During the course of the game, you’ll take part in a tale that involves betrayal, lots of shooting and a few mispronounced lines.
The original was met with less than stellar reviews, but can the console iteration overcome the stigma? Read on to find out.
Infernal starts off with a cryptic cutscene and an awkward CG sequence. Most of the time, you’ll find the dialogue comparable to a B-movie horror flick. Sometimes, you’ll even laugh at loud, but I think this adds to the experience a bit, even if it wasn’t intentional. The game doesn’t look terribly bad, but the real problem lies in the character designs.
There’s nothing special about Ryan, his friends, or any of the protagonists. Even some of the bosses look fairly generic, and in most cases, you’ll fight 50 of the same enemy throughout a level. The AI is also very primitive, and most of the time they’ll just sit in one spot, shooting you where they stand until you end up killing them. One plus in terms of the presentation is that the menus do look very sleek, and are easy to navigate.
On top of that, the game offers a very un-fun mechanic known as “soul sucking”, where you consume the corpses of your enemies for health, ammo, and goodies. Whereas in Legacy of Kain draining someone’s blood was generally satisfying, and not required, Infernal actually forces you to potentially drain every enemy body in the game.
As a result, it takes five full seconds to drain a foe, and each enemy could potentially carry a card key necessary to continue. While there are many areas that you can traverse on your own without said key, you’ll always be thinking in the back of your head “is a key door coming up?”
Taking the time to drain enemies’ corpses really takes the edge out of a firefight, and becomes tedious after clearing an entire room of enemies only to suddenly remember that you have some work to do. Combat is difficult since the melee attack button is the same one used for firing a weapon, thus, you have to be next to an enemy, and precisely aiming at them, otherwise you still fire your gun. I found myself switching to a weapon that had no ammo in it to turn my character into “melee mode”, which feels really silly.
Including the above shortcomings, Infernal was host to one of the worst moments of my entire gaming life.
I had been playing the game for about 45 minutes. With little effort, I breezed through a group of enemies and came across an area where you had to do an Uncharted/Tomb Raider-like shimmy against a ledge. Problem #1 – pressing against a wall/cover is bound to the left analog stick, which also controls rolling if you ever so slightly press a direction twice.
Of course, I rolled off a ledge and fell 10 feet, only to find our protagonist cannot survive a fall that would normally bruise a small child. But that’s not the real shocker: apparently, the game has no auto-save feature, meaning I was sent back to the very beginning of the game. Now, it’s my job to pick myself up and start over again, but for every other gamer out there, I’m sure it feels incredibly frustrating to have to start over, and some may even feel inclined to return the game.
Considering the auto-save mechanic is standard in just about every single action game nowadays, I would have even been fine if Infernal asked you if you wanted to save in-between checkpoints (it doesn’t). That said, the level design does get better as you progress, and once you learn this terrible lesson on saving, you’ll be more cautious in the future.
On another note, as soon as I read in the manual that there was teleporting in the game, I immediately imagined how fun it would be to bamf around from place to place. Of course, I was quickly let down. Infernal has a very skewed idea of what teleporting actually is: you’re technically just creating a temporary astral (ghost) form of yourself in a select location.
When you teleport (as the game calls it), you have an out of body experience, and can move around for only a few seconds as that spirit; then, you immediately return to your normal character. I was flabbergasted the first few times I attempted the move; I thought it was a glitch.
The first teleporting puzzle took me a while to figure out, and after doing a quick search, I found out I was just one of many confused individuals. Infernal pulls this trick a few more times during the game. For instance, you’re not able to jump over any fences in the game due to an invisible force, until a certain part that requires it. The only time that it’s fun to “teleport” around is near the end of the game, where you get the ability to do it multiple times in order to solve some elaborate puzzles.
Audio-wise, Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance makes some rather odd decisions. Whenever you enter combat, a really generic hard rock tune plays over and over until you are done killing every last enemy. You’ll also hear the same song (albeit a different tune than combat) every time you pause the game.
While the sound effects are pretty average, you might want to ignore the voice acting. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the game’s quality: you get a couple of cheesy lines like “oh yea! You were an angel, after all”, and the always popular just-picked-up-the-phone “WHO IS THIS?!” line, complete with a dramatic camera zoom onto Ryan’s face. You’ll even find mispronounced lines, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
After all is said and done (which takes about 7-8 hours), there’s nothing that will bring you back to the game. You can easily get all of the achievements in one playthrough (except the ones for beating the other two difficulties you did not choose), and there’s no extra content, or additional “extreme” difficulty to unlock.
The game really pulls out all the stops to prevent you from having fun, and after you finish it, there’s nothing else to do. Overall, Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance is a typical shooter that I can only really recommend to diehard action fans who have nothing else to play.
Infernal for the PC didn't look that bad when it was released two years ago, but the visuals for Hell's Vengeance are pretty sub-par.
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Once you start carefully checking every single body for a potential card key that's needed to progress through a level, you might feel a little turned off. The combat feels like a typical shooter, but the cover system is very botched.
You'll be hearing the same songs on a frequent basis. Make sure to reach for the mute button during cutscenes.
Upon completion, you don't unlock anything, but you might not want to finish it even once.
Infernal: Hell's Vengeance had a lot of potential, but falls short of just about every mark. Additionally, once I learned by surprise that there was no auto-save feature and had to subsequently restart my entire game, it really put a damper on things.