Another example of famous literature getting a technological make-over.
An epic journey through nine circles of a fiery hell filled with monstrous beasts and condemned souls — Italian poet Dante Alighieri didn’t know it at the time, but 700 years ago, he mapped out a pretty sweet video game.
“He fundamentally mapped hell with this poem,” says Jonathan Knight, the game’s executive producer. “He’s created a visual topography, and there’s a tremendous amount of structure, geography, weather — and monsters.”
If you don’t remember the epic poem from your college classics course, here’s the Cliffs Notes version: The Inferno is a 14th-century poem in which Dante is guided through hell by the Roman poet Virgil.
By the end of the poem, Dante has a deeper understanding of the Christian idea of sin. But to turn the poem into a video game, producers felt that the main character needed to be more active.
“Our reimagined version of Dante is as a warrior,” Knight says. “He’s a fallen crusader, and he’s fighting his way through hell.”
In the video game version, he’s doing it all for love.
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One of the nice things about basing an entertainment product on a 700-year-old epic poem like Dante’s “Divine Comedy” is that you don’t have to pay anything to use the basic intellectual property — a convenience that was surely not lost on the executives at Electronic Arts who approved the budgets for Dante’s Inferno, a new game scheduled to be released on Tuesday.
It should be clear by now that the story in the game has almost nothing to do with the story of the poem. There is no reason this game could not be set in any of the hundreds or thousands of generic hells that have hosted video games over the years. What Electronic Arts has done, quite transparently, is appropriate Dante’s brand to use as a light marketing skin on top of the God of War clone the company so clearly wanted to make.
And so images of Virgil spout lines from the poem at you once in a while, and Dante’s ranged weapon appears as crosses of light, but there is no heavy religious imagery and never any real sense of horror or torment. There are, however, a lot of bare female breasts. There is even a giant Cleopatra demon who spurts knife-wielding unbaptized children out of her nipples.
(Read full NYT review)