Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dante's Inferno (2010)

Title: Dante's Inferno
Publisher: EA/Visceral Games (2010)

Remember back in February when I posted my favorite Super Bowl commercials? Well, EA ought to give themselves a pat on the back because, for the first time in my life, I made a purchase based on a commercial. That's right, no real thought went into the purchase other than, "Damn, that commercial for Dante's Inferno rocked!" So out I went to my local video game store and bought a copy for Dr Musacha's birthday.

I've been watching Dr M play the game and it's certainly become quite the conversation piece - I've even pulled out my copy of Inferno to check a couple things. At times we focus on the awesome art used for the backstory or the slightly dumb look that is constantly on Dante's face or the Bad Nanny* achievement or the fact that the game is so monstrously violent or the nipples with tongues or its unapologetic offensiveness, well to some, I should say; I'm not offended by it. But what we talk about the most is the high-brow tone of the whole game.

Yes, that's right. The high-brow! tone of a video game version of Inferno.
sgwordy, are you pulling my leg?
Emphatically, no!

Beneath the violence and the layers of hell laced with gross, there's a relentless undercurrent of historically accurate religious and philosophical themes. This got a lot of chatter from Dr M and me as we tried to figure out whether it was blind fucking luck or a purposeful thing by the producers. And speaking of blind fucking luck, I got my answer.

So I'm browsing through the scifi/fantasy section of a bookstore the other day and I come by a new paperback with the Dante's Inferno artwork. The translation is by Henry W. Longfellow (not the translator for my copy of Inferno) and there's an introduction by Jonathan Knight, executive producer for the game. The short version is: yes, the themes are purposeful. Well done, J. Knight! The long version is: I almost bought the damn thing even though I already have a copy just for the intro. If you're browsing your local bookstore or just ready for your own copy of Inferno look for this one so you can read the intro. And here's a link to a nice interview with Mr. Knight if you can't get to the intro soon. In another, shorter interview he is asked to respond to people saying the adaptation is a bastardization. I love his response:

Yes, we have done a very loose adaptation. Sure, it’s a bastardization in the sense that it’s a bastard child of the original material. I think that’s completely fair... But the main thing I would say is that the game is actually pushing people to read the poem.

 He doesn't give any information but I sure do hope they make the rest of The Divine Comedy. Or maybe I should wait until the game is finished. I really like it at this point but maybe it crashes and burns at the end. Stay tuned...

*it's 20 unbaptized babies if you're curious but no word yet on whether or not the INA protest is an EA stunt


  1. I have to admit that it's a surprising thing to realize that what could easily be considered the most offensive game I've ever played is also one of the most thought provoking. The odds would seem long on that, no?