Before modern titles showed the artistic capabilities of the medium, Video games were typically seen as mindless blood soaking time killers, where armed grunts dispatch carnivorous aliens, mutants, or other grunts. So, an unarmed, snarky reluctant suburbanite, might be an odd choice to join their ranks. In the year 2000, animated teenage cynic, Daria Morgendorffer, leapt into the gaming sphere, armed with her greatest weapon, her smarts, and her peculiar take on the living hell of 90s suburbia, In Daria’s Inferno.
After a particularly dull lesson about The Divine Comedy in Mr O’Neill’s English class, Daria succumbs to slumber. In her dream, she is trapped in her approximation of Hell, based on Dante’s depiction in The Divine Comedy morphed with the suburb of Lawndale. To escape this terrible fate, Daria must navigate through warped versions of Lawndale’s landmark locations to track down five items of “useless junk” for Principal Li or face eternal detention. Dealing with obstacles… like other people (typical Daria) will drain Daria’s irritation meter forcing her to restart the section. Can the player navigate the levels of Daria’s hell?
Daria’s Inferno is simple to pick up, you move with the arrow keys, and interact with objects with your mouse. Rudimental puzzles/obstacles do provide a suitable challenge, but anytime you can call upon a direct feed of the iconic, trashy news show Sick, Sad World for clues to overcome the section you are on. Setting the game predominantly inside Daria’s imagination was a smart move, as the player gets the chance to see the twisted distortions of Daria’s perception of reality first-hand. You can paralyze certain obstacles like presenting Quinn fashion faux pas or locking in biker babies in garages. Solutions that feel authentic to how Daria would want to react, especially in her dreams.
Daria’s Inferno does manage to draw from the show’s recognisable characters, each one fully voiced acted too. Daria, of course, provides a constant snarky commentary on practically everything that is going on. It is nice that the dialogue does feel as snappy as it did in the show, and the situations are fun too. It is great that a full version of the show’s catchy theme song is found within the game’s credits sequence, one that emulates the shows iconic credits impeccably. Speaking of music, Daria’s Inferno also boasts a not so surprisingly modern soundtrack, full of incidental music of a variety of popular genres. Offering a sound that should feel more familiar to those who experience the show on home video sans the popular songs of the M.T.V.
While not the quintessential protagonist of a classic videogame, Daria’s remarks and her world does equate to an interesting adventure title. Full of the wit and charm of the show, with the animated world of Daria given an inventive upgrade in this hellish new setting, accompanied with a contemporary soundtrack, making the whole adventure feeling like it leapt off reruns of the show. Creating a fun challenge, that’s rewarding for both fans of the show and newcomers, Daria’s Inferno isn’t the nightmare she lets it on to be.
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