Fans of Daria's Inferno may be happy to see their monotone-voiced heroine featured in a computer game based on the television show, but after playing it any true fan is likely to feel cheated. The game is very short, less than three hours at best, and fails to provide any enjoyment. In fact, the player's irritation meter will fill even quicker than Daria's.
The gameplay is nothing less than abysmal, with clunky and unresponsive controls making you work hard to achieve any benefits. The awful design becomes apparent after spending only a very short time having your character incessantly walk into objects and encounter a myriad of other irritants that should easily have been avoided.
Even the huge cast seems stale after a while, and if listening to Daria's voice hasn't irritated you before, just wait until you've been subjected to listening for three straight hours. In that regard, the short nature of the game is a true blessing in disguise, as her monotone progressively worsens from tolerable, to irritating, to very annoying fairly quickly.
Not to pull any punches, the game can only be considered a "rip off" of the worst kind. Any competent gamer can finish the game in under four hours (tops), and there's simply not enough replay to warrant the purchase price, whatever you paid. After playing once, or twice at the most, you'll have seen and done everything the game has to offer, which isn't much. Not only is the game another exploitation of an MTV franchise designed to suck money out of your pocket, it's not worth the time or effort to play.
Even diehard Daria fans should avoid this loser. If the clunky interface and simplistic gameplay doesn't put you to sleep, Daria's voice will. With a distinctive lack of things to do and no replay value, the game will leave you in your own inferno, wondering why you were so easily duped of your money.
Graphics: Graphics are just like the cartoon on television -- dull and unimaginative.
Sound: The voices and music are the same as in the television series but Daria's voice is monotonous to the extreme. Sound effects are decent.
Enjoyment: Gameplay is too easy and there's little to do. Extremely limited replay combined with unresponsive and bad controls makes playing torture. Mercifully, the game is short.
Replay Value: There is no play value, let alone replay value.
Daria is a modern-day heroine of the MTV vein, featured in her own 30-minute cartoon currently in its fifth season. An iconoclastic character, Daria is meant to represent the sardonic current crop of jaded youth, intelligent but not overly educated, wise with the street savvy now necessary to properly survive in the world. None of this must necessarily be understood to be able to enjoy Daria's Inferno, but it does explain why she has become a successful enough character to have an ongoing series with a resultant game made from it.
The premise of Daria's Inferno is simple but effective for the type of gameplay involved. Daria Morgendorffer, the well-spoken, caustic heroine, has fallen asleep in English class while the teacher is reading Dante's Inferno. She dreams that she is now in her own Inferno, a hell taken from the distaste she finds in her own world. In her dream Inferno, she must find five items stolen from the school, or the entire student body will be put on detention.
The game consists of five levels, one for each item. The levels combine a goodly number of elements from several different gaming genres, which are put together cohesively in an entertaining package. The game is played in the third person, but there are no dialog trees or conversations to control. Characters may be spoken to, but only to get a simple one-time dialog from them that provides gameplay clues.
There are inventory-based puzzles in each level. Each level also has simple arcade sequences involving the avoidance of things Daria finds irritating, which are usually people. If Daria is irritated too many times in a gameplay area, you are bounced back to the main levels screen, a clever device by which you may jump to any area of the level you are on that you have previously explored. Being bounced back carries no real penalties in the game outside of having to rework that particular area of a level again. Many of the irritations can be eliminated by solving a puzzle to stop them.
Inventory management is a bit cumbersome, with a method whereby the player must scroll through all the items until the one she's looking for comes up. This was a bit redundant and time-consuming. Also, items that are no longer necessary do not disappear, making the scroll-through take just that much more time. On the plus side, inventory found prior to getting bounced back to the main levels screen stays in inventory, so there is very little redundancy in gameplay.
Outside of an initial point where a name is entered by the player at the start of the game, there is absolutely no saving at all in the game. The game actually remembers where you were last and returns you there automatically once the game is restarted, and it recalls what areas so far have been explored. This, coupled with the painless "irritation" failure process, helps make the game very immersive and a heck of a lot of fun to play.
The game is controlled either entirely with the mouse or a mouse and keyboard combo, which latter seems preferable to keep the character moving along smoothly and out of the way of the irritations.
The game itself is pure cartoon, drawn in a clean, attractive style. The design is Nancy and Sluggo crisp, with a Beavis and Butt-head attitude.
It should be highlighted that there is a maze in the game - but the maze is in no way repetitious, and it has shortcuts built into it that are actually a puzzle to complete. A really fun, unique way to implement a maze that should be emulated, repeated - whatever, I'd just like to see more like this.
All of the characters are played by the actors from the series. This makes the quality of voice acting very entertaining and consistent. Cutscenes are really just snippets with the same wry sarcasm of the series. Anyone familiar with the series will immediately recognize the characters and Daria's usual droll observations throughout. "Next time," she dryly observes after being kicked out to the main levels screen, "I won't treat this like school - I'll pay attention." Upon reaching an area of the game not yet accessible, she quips "Must be a good place if I can't get in."
This game scores pretty darned high on the fun meter. It is not so difficult that you will get bogged down or need a lot of hints to keep going. It is also not a terribly long game and can be completed in several evenings' sittings. Download it and give it a whirl.
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