Daria's Inferno

Released   2000  
Developer   Hypnotix  
Designer   Peter Elwell, John Trumball  
Rating   -2  
Reviewed   2001 January 5  
Interactive Fiction
This review is restricted to the consideration of the program as a work of interactive fiction. I'm only considering the story, its flow and presentation. Any gaming worth is not considered.

Daria, a high school student, falls asleep in English class and has a strange dream inspired by the class' discussion of Dante's Inferno. She must recover stolen objects hidden among the various settings of her life. Along the way, she interacts with the people that annoy her, which is just about everybody.

This is a licensed product for the Daria TV cartoon, made by the same people. It's faithful to the series, with the same look, sound, and humour. It looks and sounds great, just like an episode of Daria. There's not much of a plot, just an excuse to drag Daria to various settings to hear her quips on life.

Daria's Inferno is a platform game. The main challenge is in avoiding the various people who pester and annoy Daria -- if Daria gets bothered too often, her annoyance level rises and she is kicked out of that phase of the dream. She can immediately return, though, as many times as it takes. As a platform action game, there's no cleverness to the "levels" and little physical skill required. Daria also has to gather objects for various characters, getting object A for character X to receive object B, and so on, but no thinking is required. On the plus side, the interface was clean and simple.

Daria's Inferno is only for Daria fans with too much money. It is incredibly short, less than three hours. I'm a spaz when it comes to action, yet I flew through the game. The ideas of the scenarios are generally funny, but they don't translate well into fun gameplay. You laugh at what Daria has to go through, but actually going through with it is tedious. The absence of significant plot ultimately drags the game down. The whole game is just a scavenger hunt through Lawndale, with no real motivation. The dialogue might be as good as in a show, but there is none of the depth and insight that makes the show special. There are some good quips along the way, though, so it's worth the brief time needed to play it, if not the money.

David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.