Dante: “a heavily armored crusader, giant scythe gripped in one hand, six-pack abs rippling”

Nope, I didn’t just lift that quotation from a review of a kinky Inferno-based porn film (although one probably does exist). It is, in fact, from a review of Dante’s Inferno, the video game from Electronic Arts.

I don’t play video games, due to my reputation as a very sore loser, so I have no first-hand experience of this Gladiator-esque poet, but apparently the concept of the game is that the player assumes the role of Dante and battles through all the different levels of the afterlife – killing monsters and stuff – with the intention of saving Beatrice. Hmmm…

Well, I have a few thoughts on this:

1) I completely agree with EA’s executive producer, Jonathan Knight, that the Comedy *does* make a really good video game. It is dark, exciting, jam-packed full of monsters (not zombies, per se, but the Greeks were definitely onto something with all of their mythological beasts), and it kind of makes you want to make the journey with Dante and/or Virgil.

2) I think it’s really positive to generate interest in literature (Dante or otherwise) through whatever means grabs the crowds. I hated the Harry Potter films but they prompted people to read the books, so fair’s fair. It’s the same with this game. I don’t suppose I’d particularly enjoy slashing all three of Cerberus’s heads off and back-flipping over his blood-soaked corpse into the next level, but if that’s the kind of thing that makes people reach for a copy of the original poem to see how it was really done, then who am I to judge?

3) My feminist voice is screaming at me to mention something. I’m trying to shut it up, but it needs to be said: I am no Dante expert. I’ve already admitted to that, so it’s no secret. But I’m pretty sure that in the actual poem, Beatrice was sent to save Dante, not vice-versa… I suppose things have to be modified a bit to make them video-game-relevant, but I can’t help feeling slightly miffed by the comment that “a damsel is a quintessential gamer’s goal”. Does this imply that all gamers are male? Or that all video-game women, in order to be appealing, need to assume a pathetic role of helpless maiden? And they very nearly had me on side as well…

I’d like to hear from anyone who has actually played this game, just for nosy reasons really: how does it compare to, say, Spyro the Dragon (the last video game I owned), or that Call of Duty game that my brother raves about? How does it fare in comparison to the poem? Is it anything like it at all? Does anyone have a copy of it that I could try out (I’d probably need someone there with me to talk me through what to do)?

Get in touch!

Sarah x

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Dante: “a heavily armored crusader, giant scythe gripped in one hand, six-pack abs rippling”

  1. Brenna

    I haven’t played the game first hand either, but my boyfriend is a gaming journalist so I’ve watched him play it when it first came out, and loved it. This probably has something to do with how much I love the inferno, but I have to say the developers really did it justice. It’s worth picking up purely to see how they’ve adapted each circle in hell visually. Really creepy, dark and sinister. The actual story itself isn’t 100% the same (like you say he’s saving Beatrice when it’s the other way around! And also he’s a Templar knight instead of an Italian Poet.) but yeah, definitely worth picking up I reckon. 🙂

  2. Brenna

    Also, I’m told that if you’re looking for a game inspired by the Comedia with a woman doing all the slaying and the saving then Bayonetta is for you!

  3. Dear Brenna,
    Thanks for the heads up re Bayonetta! I don’t own any consoles (apart from an old Sega Mega Drive, which is – IMHO – the absolute KING of consoles) so probs won’t be able to check it out myself but I’ll try to convince my bro that being a strong virtual woman is much better than shooting soldiers or killing prostitutes (he doesn’t actually do either of those things in real life, just on his X-Box). I doubt it’ll have much effect, but I much prefer Sonic the Hedgehog anyway…
    S x

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