If ripping off the gameplay of another title was a sin, there’d be a circle in hell reserved exclusively for Dante’s Inferno. Its combat, magic system, finishing moves, and various other gameplay mechanics unapologetically ape God of War to the point where Kratos fans will feel right at home in Lucifer’s den. Inferno mimics even the most mundane and inexplicable tasks, like requiring the player to mash the action button to open doors, cementing this title’s status as a bonafide God of War copycat.

The result of this imitation however, is that by and large the game is fun to play; the combat is tight and satisfying, and the finishing moves are brutally graphic. Despite being a poet in the source material, Dante is transformed into a badass warrior, almost rivaling that of his Greek counterpart. Minor additions to the formula, such as branching skill trees for learning new moves, hidden relics that can be equipped to boost various stats, and the ability to condemn/absolve souls give Dante’s Inferno some individuality, even if it’s never fully realized.

While the gameplay is largely unoriginal, Inferno’s story is unique to say the least. Tapping a 14th-century poem as inspiration for a hack and slash action title is enough to make even the most forgiving gamer cringe, but Visceral Games uses Inferno’s premise to good effect. The game is scandalous and over the top, but as controversial as the topless lust demons and unbaptized spider babies might be, they are also entertaining and more or less justified – this is supposed to be hell, after all. Literature buffs will likely be offended by the many liberties taken with the source material, but if you can get over the story compromises made for the sake of gameplay, Inferno’s creativity may pleasantly surprise you.

The classic work serves as more than a starting point for the game. Your ability to judge characters that Dante meets in the original poem (which are used to independently level up your Holy and Unholy powers), and Virgil’s monologues add some authenticity in light of the sweeping story changes. The poem also inspires the game’s vision of hell, and fortunately the developers pulled no punches in bringing their interpretation to life. Although the level of detail for the character models is oftentimes underwhelming, the early environments are unique, twisted, and memorable. The game lacks the brilliant level design of the God of War series, but there are times when Dante’s Inferno faithfully recreates descriptions from the poem, resulting in some remarkable sights.

Inferno’s ultimate sin is that the game can’t sustain its early pace. Of its nine circles of hell, the first three – Limbo, Lust, and Gluttony – contain the game’s best ideas and most impressive creative vision. Later circles offer memorable sights as well, but for every river of boiling blood or ride on the back of Phlegyas there are a dozen drawn-out battles against groups of recycled enemies. After the variety introduced in the beginning, it was disappointing (and nonsensical) to see the same enemies popping up again and again in later circles, requiring little in the way of fresh tactics to beat.

This problem ironically culminates in the circle of Fraud, which is composed of 10 different challenges in identical arenas. Each challenge introduces a different element, but most can be beat with either your heavy attack or projectile combos. Despite the plethora of moves to unlock, these two techniques will get you through the vast majority of the battles you’ll face, making the game feel like more of a grind than it has to be.

Dante’s Inferno features some interesting aspects (like its combat), but early innovation loses out to repetition. The game’s biggest strength – Visceral’s recreation of hell – wanes during the second half. Some entertaining unlockable content adds to the replayability, but for most gamers, Inferno doesn’t have enough new ideas to warrant a return trip through hell.