Infernal: Hell's Vengeance (Xbox 360)

Bad as Hell

by Coop

Infernal: Hell's Vengeance
is a terrible, terrible video game. For the first time in my years as a reviewer, I've actually needed to take out a thesaurus to find new ways to say "bad." There's just so much broken in this game that it's hard to find a small morsel of enjoyment, and any moment that might be genuinely entertaining is surrounded with so much awfulness that it's impossible to find anything impressive. Every inch of good is met with a foot of bad. Any second of quality is bordered with an hour of filth.

Issues with the game don't begin immediately. Cliche protagonist Ryan Lennox's revenge-driven journey to take down his previous employer, the Etherlight agency, isn't a terrible beginning. An ex-angel allying himself with the devil, and being granted the powers of hell in order to defeat his angelic foes, works on a number of levels. It means traveling to different settings, moral dilemmas, and an assortment of interesting abilities. Once in control of the antihero, however, everything goes downhill.

When the cutscene ends and gameplay begins, any illusion of quality is quickly washed away. Aiming is incredibly finicky and loose, making it extremely hard to accurately aim at an enemy. There's no aim assist of any kind, and no way to zoom in on standard weapons. In other words, more time is spent zig-zagging across foes than is actually shooting at them. The only time it's remotely easy to hit someone is from behind cover. Sadly, and almost expectedly, the cover mechanic is so sloppy that it still isn't worth bothering with. Most objects can't be stuck to, and the ones that can are often magnetic, grabbing Lennox unintentionally. I really, truly appreciate developers trying to make a cohesive cover system that doesn't require pushing a button, but until it works, for the love of god, stop screwing it up.

Besides the standard array of abilities, Lennox's unholy arsenal is unlocked as the game progresses. Being able to charge bullets with devilish energy, for instance, helps make quick work of more powerful foes. This butts heads with the game's awful controls, meaning these powerful shots can, and will, be wasted more than effectively used. Also available is a dodge move, which is used mostly to get through omnipresent laser grids, and a teleportation tool, which is brought into play for some occasional puzzle solving. Lennox's "Infernal Vision," too, finds itself into a number of different puzzles, most of which require searching rooms for codes to open locked doors. These would be more interesting if they didn't fall victim to the game's other numerous faults. 

Poor level design meets even poorer game design on several occasions, making inconsistencies that are impressively dreadful. Another wonderful example of blatant disregard for logic is in the most important of his powers: the ability to absorb dead enemies' souls to regenerate life. Ammunition can't be picked up off the ground and health doesn't regenerate, so the only way to get either is to absorb the souls of enemies. This idea isn't flawed by itself. Only when it meets with the god of nonsense does it truly find itself into the world of stupidity. Bodies disappear after a bit of time, and can't be absorbed after they do. During long battles (see: the kind that usually drain ammo and health) the enemies killed during the opening are long gone by the end. Another instance of what can only be described as senselessness requires Lennox to destroy a glass pane to escape a room... made of glass. This happens to mark the first time in the game that anything made of glass wasn't bulletproof, and there's little indication that there's something different between them. In other words, the basic fundamentals of Game Design 101 are blatantly ignored. 

There are four bullet points on the back of Infernal: Hell's Vengeance. The first is "Utilize a range of modern weaponry," which isn't untrue. There are, indeed, several types of different modern-day weapons. There are also laser guns, but we'll allow that. The second point is "Exploit your supernatural powers," which, too, is a fact. Just because they barely work doesn't mean they cannot be exploited. The third point is "Dust particles, superior textures, realistic lighting and advanced shaders." The game looks just like it did in 2007, which means it isn't really impressive, but we'll even give them that. The graphics are indeed passable. The fourth bullet point is "Collect up to 30 Achievements."

That's it. That's the best they could do. That alone should tell you what you already know: don't buy Infernal unless you're teaching a "What Not to Do in Game Design" seminar. Actually, even then you'd be better served with Alone in the Dark; at least that game had something going for it.  


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  • Sarah

    Ouch. You know a game's bad when one of the top 4 features is that it has achievements.

  • Shark

    You tell'em, Coop!

  • slave2zeros

    Wow, sounds terrible


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