Story, writing, and characters, immersion!
The writer behind the story here is a master in Dante’s Comedy work, and it feels. Texts here smoothly catch most of the nuances for which the original masterpiece is loved. Dante’s Inferno is less about the obvious horrors of hell. When the gore, nudity, and violence are still present, the story, for me, is more about discussing the complexity of the human soul and often impossible ethical choices.
Almost at the beginning of the journey through the 9 circles of hell, our heroes will meet Dante himself, guiding us and helping us navigate through this horrific world. Our prototype offered only a taste of the full campaign. Still, we met several strong, distinctive, and memorable characters even in limbo, from Abstanaeal, a fallen angel, through Saladin and Julius Cesar to Minos himself. I love how the plot mixes mythology with true historical events, serving something fresh and exciting.
And yes, characters we control, a bit blank cards at the beginning, grow together with the story, also affecting the world around them in their own, specific ways. It’s too early to judge it by the demo, but I guess our characters will mirror the complex human characters with all the flaws and values we have as human beings.
Think about the most exciting short Netflix series, where all episodes have action, memorable moments, and characters. Dante Inferno campaign is built exactly like that. After finishing our battle with Minos, Limbo’s boss, I’m starving to know how the main plot will evolve and what the mysteries we already encounter will eventually mean.
Choices that matter
The plot here is far from linear. You can expect many choices on your journey, not only opening for your new dialogues, locations, treasures, and story path to follow but also affecting boss battles in a very immersive, epic way. I don’t want to spoil too much here, but your fight with Minos will probably look distinctly different than hours.
And if you need more than this, some choices will affect your adventures on the lower level of hells, where you will meet some NPCs again, and new ones will behave differently towards you.
This approach to building the story also means that the game is replayable enough to enjoy the story at least once more from different perspectives.
AAA approach to the design that will save this genre
What I love about Dante’s Inferno the most is the balance it maintains between being a highly strategic, satisfying boss crawler with an amazing plot and keeping everything as streamlined as possible. And without forcing the players to invest hundreds of hours to play it.
We have many games at home, many of which are huge, campaign-based hits we didn’t have time to finish or even play. Frosthaven, a game I was waiting for so long to play, still waits on the shelf unplayed. Hearing the community complain about tiresome setups and pages of extra conditions for each scenario blocks me whenever I think about starting the campaign. Kingdom Death, another amazing title, still waits for its turn.
Dante follows the trend of AAA video games, serving fast-paced, intensified excellence, staying within its welcome. And for this reason, the game has my wallet from the beginning.
An interactive, highly tactical battle system that’s easy to manage
Now let’s talk a while about the battle with bosses. First, it’s really easy to manage, considering how many tactical choices and strategies it offers. Each character we control plays differently, with their passive skills, items, and decks of action cards we’re using to perform most of the action during the encounter.
Devotee, healing and buffing herself and other party members. Agile Outlaw with ranged attacks and traps. Backtabbing an artist, and finally, the muscles of the party, Mercenary. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages on the battlefield, and it’s up to players to use all of the opportunities and synergies between them.
You can count on plenty of interactions between the characters due to the several positive statues you can include on yourself or others. Taunting the boss and many other tricks up the sleeve of each hero makes the combat truly enjoyable. Different ground levels affect the battle, too. Minis can be pushed to the highest levels for extra damage, pillars can be thrown, and chests can be opened for items useful during the encounter. And this is only the very first fight, so I’m eager to see what more developers have prepared for the players.
Stamina and health track are the same thing, so the more you move around the board, the easier you will be to be wound by the boss. The more dice your attack has, the higher the chances not only to inflict more damage but also to activate the reaction attacks of the boss. Boss’s health is tracked by the cards he uses to attack, so the more damage you inflict, the fewer cards he will have to activate.The more action cards you use each turn, the faster your character will be forced to draw sin cards, making your life harder.
The whole combat is about finding the right balance between relatively simple mechanics while trying to survive and defeat the boss. It’s designed well, and it reminds me of how Eric Lang approached Bloodborne The Board Game, forcing the players to measure their actions to the right proportions.
Summing up, Dante: Inferno is a game we want to have and play more. A streamlined approach intensifying excellence in a reasonable time frame required to finish the campaign is the answer for our needs and many of you. Because now, you have a chance not only to get an amazing, story-driven boss crawler but also have time to play it and enjoy. If you love Oathsworn, you are going to love Dante for sure. If you love Aeon Trespass Odyssey but feel overwhelmed by its size and elements to track and manage, you’ll love Dante even more. After playing this prototype, we’re sure Inferno will enter the top league of its genre, so if you’re into boss crawlers, trust us, you don’t want to miss this game. By saying this, we set our Hype & Hopes score very high, giving it 9 out of 10 scratches possible.
Hype & Hopes: 9.0/10