The same shallow combat that plagued the original release keeps this feature-rich pack from being absolved.
- Easy-to-use trial creator
- Playing as Saint Lucia requires a different strategy
- Teaming up with a friend is fun.
- Combat hasn't been improved at all
- Objectives all boil down to the same attack-without-mercy style
- No cooperative attacks or ways to help your friend
- Strict limit on how many enemies and objects can be on screen at one time.
The Trials of St. Lucia is a strange piece of downloadable content. On the surface, it seems like a bad idea to look to the worst aspect of Dante's Inferno (the trials that comprise the final third of the game) for inspiration. However, separated from any pretense of story or progression, and expanded to allow players to create and share their own challenges, this $9.99 pack is able to entertain where the original sections only offered unending bouts of boredom. Even though it's better than the drab material it's based on, St. Lucia still suffers from a few noticeable problems. It's easy enough to whip up a trial in the idiot-proof creator, but the limited enemy types, shallow combat, and confined arenas dampen any sort of long-term appeal. However, if you're dedicated to making Dante's life a living hell and desperately want another reason to dust off your scythe to get back to slaying unbaptized babies, The Trials of St. Lucia fills that need.
At least Dante doesn't have to go it alone anymore because St. Lucia has joined him. Though her move set doesn't differ wildly from Dante's own, her emphasis on speed and agility gives her a unique feel. She can hover briefly in midair using her angelic wings, stab far away enemies with a quick-striking dash, and keep evildoers at bay with rapid-fire holy cross attacks. Her increased speed does come with one liability, though: She's weaker. Not only does she dole out damage in smaller doses, but her life bar depletes quicker as well. The trials are separated into single-player and cooperative challenges, which mean that you can team up with a friend to strike these sinners down. The core action doesn't change in any appreciable way (there are no cooperative attacks), but it is still fun to go to war with a buddy by your side. Just make sure you choose your partner wisely. If one of you should die midfight, you both have to restart at the beginning of the wave, and it can be maddening if your friend is the one doing all the dying.
There are only 40 developer-made trials to plow through (25 single player, 15 cooperative), but there are hundreds more user-made levels available as of this writing, and more coming every day. Every trial takes place on a single platform, so don't expect any sprawling environments, clever puzzles, or insane boss fights. Instead, everything centers on the basic combat, with objectives thrown in to keep things diverse. Your ultimate goals do vary slightly, but your strategies stay largely the same. The end result is either to kill every enemy onscreen or just one specific foe, so you still slice and dice like a madman until the challenge comes to an end. One objective type doesn't work quite right, though. In Don't Kill the Prisoner, you have to finish off everyone onscreen except for one imprisoned soul. The problem is this jerk attacks you the entire time, which means that every swing of your scythe will hit him as well. This makes keeping the soul alive a hassle, ensuring this mode is an aggravation rather than an enjoyable challenge.
If you want to throw your hat into the designer's ring, you can slap together a few trials of your own. The editing tool is easy to use. You just choose an arena, choose whatever objective you fancy, and then toss in your favorite enemies. Every attribute can be tweaked, so you can decide things like how much life your foes have, how aggressive they are, and how much health they release when they die. This customization lets you mold the hero as well. You can choose if you want single-player or cooperative, how much life you start with, and how many lives you can burn through before your challenge ends. Unfortunately, there are rather strict limits to how many objects and enemies are onscreen at one time, so you can't just flood the arena with gluttons until the floor is covered in poisonous bile. The tool is still robust--you can concoct a trial and upload it in just a few minutes--but just don't expect your wildest fantasies to come true.
The Trials of St. Lucia does an admirable job of turning the worst idea from the original adventure into something entertaining, but it's still hampered by the same problems that made those initial trials such a drag. It's only entertaining to swing your blood-soaked scythe for so long because the combat is shallow and the objectives only offer a slight change to the core experience. However, the in-depth editor, extra playable character, and cooperative mode are different enough to lure back anyone anxious to be wrapped up in hell's clutches for a few more hours.