9 June 2009

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Play This Game

Soon it will be out.

Dante's Inferno: The Video Game!

Click on the above link to find two trailers for the game.

Their tag line: Go To Hell!

This game is one of those things that offends me both as a a Catholic and as a student of Great Literature. Dante's Inferno, a video game? The poem told the story of a trip through Hell in order to teach Dante the pilgrim to find his way again, to shun his errors and embrace the love of Heaven. His trip is arranged by the spirit of his true love Beatrice (whose name is related to holiness as in "Beatific vision" and whom Dante only met a few times in his life and to whom he may not have spoken) who gets him a guide in the Roman Poet Virgil who will lead Dante through Hell and Purgatory (symbolically, Roman virtues which Virgil embodied in his Aeneid are enough to keep you away from hell and to an earthly paradise, but not enough to take you to heaven) at which point she herself will lead him to Heaven, at which point he turns away from her to focus solely on the splendor of God and the Love that "Turns the stars and lesser spheres."

I thought a movie about the Inferno would be a visually interesting spectacle, with visions of the Great Pit opening up before the poet and his guide, and the terrors of Cocytus and Phlegethon and the Malebolgias. There is a little action, sometimes. At one point a gate to the lower levels is barred against them, but an angel of Heaven is sent down to Hell- just one Angel- who forces the door open with the merest touch of a tiny wand, showing that the power of Hell is nothing compared to that of Heaven. however, for the most part is be rather dull for a movie. The poem was devoted to the punishments of sin which allowed Dante to make ironic social commentary. Much of the action, if you can call it that, are the two men walking through Hell and pausing every now and then to say 'Gosh, will you look at that?'

But this isn't a movie, it's a game now. So they tweaked it a bit, to keep your interest up. Dante is now a beefy crusader who steals death's scythe to hack his way through Hell as he tries to free his beloved Beatrice who is trapped down below. Dante is shown to speak to Beatrice, and she speaks back with lines such as "I gave myself to you because I knew you would not betray our love," thus introducing the idea of sex, almost completely absent from the poem, because we all know what those poor benighted Medievals didn't: there is no love without sex. Later she also tells him that he has betrayed his vow or her love or some such thing.

Gone to Hell, indeed.

Honestly, did anyone involved in making this game ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK?

The sad part is that soon after the game's release, literature teachers will be reading essays on Dante's Inferno written by people who only played the game.

What's next? Hamlet: the video game? "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and your job is to take out the trash!" Milton's Paradise Lost, the game? Actually that might be cool. Just focus on the War in Heaven. You can choose to be Michael or Satan. Or maybe just Michael. Their slogan could be "KICK SATAN"S A$$!" I should go copyright that idea... start my own software developing company...

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