Spoilers: Things I wish that Dante’s Inferno would have done

Dante’s Inferno was on the edge of doing some very cool stuff, but it just didn’t quite make it.  Obviously, I’m going to include spoilers in this post.  So you’ve been warned.

(Note: I could be wrong on some facts with the game.  I’m speaking based on what I’ve played and what I’ve looked up.  If I’m wrong please let me know in a comment.)

1.) Make things a bit more cozy and build some atmosphere.

This won’t be the first time I reference Silent Hill.  I desperately wish Visceral had backed off the God of War bandwagon a bit and stole some ideas from Silent Hill instead.

The Hell Descent of Silent Hill: Homecoming is one of the most intense and unsettling sequences in this generation of games.  This is partly because of how claustrophobic it was.  Dante’s Inferno was on the right track by implying that Dante couldn’t turn back and escape very easily, but hell was a very open place in the game.  As it’s been observed in numerous other discussions about things that are scary, it is what you can’t see that might just scare you the most.  There are times where having a wide open scene is called for.  Hell is an overwhelming place, and overwhelming shots are deserved.  It could have been much more intimidating though if all of hell’s threats weren’t made plain as day.

2.) Add some more bosses.

For a lot of games, the bosses are the reason to play.  Sephiroth, Pyramid Head, the Colossi, all steal the show in their respective games.    Making Dante a muscle-bound idiot would have been totally justified if it was used as an excuse to butt heads with some really gruesome characters.  While things start off with King Minos, Cleopatra, and Cerberus, most of these felt like God of War battles.  Then boss battles dropped off the map for the rest of the game.  And for the most part, you fought with the same collection of enemies all throughout the game.  Finally, save for the junk, the battle was Lucifer wasn’t very surprising either.  Visceral would have done well to take a page out of Silent Hill’s boss and monster design.

Scarlet, for instance, was just off in certain ways that made her very unsettling.  The way she moved, being trapped in a dimly lit room, and the way you have to go about killing her: close quarters combat with a 12-foot-tall monster, using a crow bar.  Dante’s Inferno could have used the environment to it’s advantage and mixed up the tactics required to take down a boss.  With Scarlet it seemed impossible to kill her until you realize her weakness.  For Dante, each boss is mostly a matter of either hitting the right switch and/or beat the crap out of a monster.  Most of the boss characters in Dante’s Inferno seemed to be interested in just trying to gross you out.

3.) Let your decisions mean something.

I’d be willing to forgive Dante’s Inferno for taking creative liberties if it offered something more in return.  It was sorely disappointing to learn that, no matter what, Dante was going to be saved by the souls he absolved.  You could have punished everyone you encountered, but there’s going to be some unnamed souls that were absolved while you weren’t looking that come to Dante’s rescue.  It was very “happily ever after” and really blows off any sort of impression that you might have about Dante being a bad dude.  I thought that maybe, by the end, that Lucifer would reveal this was some elaborate scheme to recruit Dante as a new and improved Death.  That Dante was potentially someone that was such a dirt bag that Lucifer couldn’t resist trying to get him on his side.  Using Beatrice as bait and capturing Dante in Hell though would have really given the player pause to think about the decisions they made and whether or not they were worth it.  It would have been even better if you got to play the game over again as Death.  That would have been pretty cool if that were the ending should you not do enough to save other people.  Otherwise, you could have the regular ending with maybe a couple of the folks you absolved making personal appearances to thank Dante and/or mock Lucifer.

4.) Exploration

I imagine there’s probably more to see in hell than just the fast track to Lucifer’s front porch.  This was another great opportunity to give the player something to chew on, and possibly catch them off guard.  Each ring of hell could have had it’s own side mission that had you spend some more quality time with Virgil and the damned.  It could have also been a good way to break up the game, pace it a little better, and extend the total play time (six hours isn’t bad, but you get the feeling the game wants you out before it’s time to close.)  Each ring of hell could have also had it’s own rewards and temptations.  It would have been a good way to screw with the mind of the audience, and even parody God of War.  Imagine encountering a sex mini-game in lust.  The player may see it coming a mile away, but it would have been a great moment to imply conquest, only to have Dante tricked into meeting a gruesome fate.  Moments like those can make the game far more endearing by providing moments where the player doesn’t have to participate, but can if they are interested.  The outcome can be much more surprising if the player only has themselves to blame (or credit.)

Not a game, but hopefully you still get the point.

Even if you already enjoyed Dante’s Inferno thoroughly, you’ve got to admit that there’s a lot of potential that didn’t (but could yet be) tapped.  It’s just going to be a little harder to do with purgatorio and paradiso.


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