Most games drop the player into deadly environments teeming with traps and enemies, so we’re not surprised that a developer has taken it to the logical extreme and put you in Hell. The Inferno does this with literary gravitas, by placing you in the shoes of Dante and sending you after your beloved Beatrice, who has been banished to Hades.
And really, saving her is the least you could do, since you’re partially to blame for her predicament. Virgil, your official tour guide through the underworld, fills you in on the back-story between levels. It turns out that Beatrice’s husband killed her because he found out she was having an affair with you. You just couldn’t keep your pants on, could you, Lothario?
You have four real-time hours to get through all five worlds, each one based on a different ring of Hades and sporting a unique graphical style. Virgil gives you tips for dealing with enemies along the way, but the dialogue is usually stilted and ridiculous. Worse yet are the taunts from Lucifer between each level. He says things like, “Even grandmothers get farther than this.” Oooh, burn!
Danger abounds. It’s Hell, after all.
The goal of each level is to make your way from point A to point B, collecting all the soul orbs in between. Easily the strongest part of this game is the level design. You’re guided along paths that twist and turn, leading you through a wide array of obstacles, from circling fireballs to vicious bats that hone in and chase after you. The maps vary greatly in size and shape, and require different strategies to beat.
This is less an action game than a timing-based puzzle game, so you don’t have an attack button. All you get is a D-pad whose default setting oddly places the left and right arrows on the left side of the screen and the up and down arrows on the right. This felt awkward to us, so we were happy to find an option for the traditional cross shape in the settings menu. However, in this format the up and down arrows are a little stubby, and we would miss them on occasion, causing some needless deaths.
Lucifer, the master of the insult.
Helpful checkpoints are placed throughout the levels, and they become fewer and farther between as you progress. Instead of having a limited number of lives, you get an upward-counting death toll that makes you feel increasingly inept each time you kick the bucket. Later in the game you’ll come upon some extremely unforgiving traps that will bring your death tally well into the hundreds.
Your progress is auto-saved every time you close the app, and the levels are short enough that you can play them whenever you have a few spare minutes. There are also achievements to unlock, giving you reason to come back to the game once you’ve beaten it.
While we would have liked a tighter control scheme and were frustrated by some very difficult segments, the strong level design and enjoyable gameplay in The Inferno won us over. Yes, we enjoyed our time in Hell, and plan to visit again soon.