Midway upon the journey of our lifeWhen I read that the first section of Dante’s Divine Comedy was being turned into a video game, I responded with cautious optimism. Dante’s Inferno paints an impressive, terrifying vision of hell, and a game set in that world could be compelling. The epic poem was mostly descriptive in nature, so I figured they would have to change a few things to make a more exciting interactive experience. From the first trailer, it looked like they were going to invent some warrior character to go on a quest through hell. It wasn’t too clear.
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
-The first lines of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Longfellow Translation
When I was still young, but had enough life experience
To be a brooding badass, I was in some freaky place with
Demons and shit and I killed them with a scythe.
-The first lines of Dante’s Inferno, by Visceral Games, Bullard-Bates hypothesis
With each new piece of information that drips out of the offices of Visceral Games, my hopes for the game have dwindled. That warrior from the first trailer, as it turns out, is actually Dante, who is not a 14th century poet but a badass crusading knight. Beatrice, Dante’s dead love in the poem, who serves as a kind of ideal beauty and his guide in the realms of paradise, is captured by the devil and dragged into hell for the sake of the game. Oh, and Dante stole Death’s own scythe, and uses it as a weapon.
I’m not sure what about this disturbs me the most:
But instead of gripe and complain, I thought I might offer up a few other adaptation ideas for Visceral Games, just in case they ever decide to take a stab at another piece of classic literature:
1) The people at Visceral Games have taken dramatic liberties with a classic piece of literature to turn it into a generic action game with particularly gruesome backdrops.
2) They could have just as easily made almost the same game without so thoroughly flaying the original by making the main character some invented figure who was not Dante, pursuing some invented figure who was not Beatrice, and leaving out the nonsense about Death’s scythe.
3) If they make any sequels, we might soon see Dante striding into heaven and tearing angels asunder with the horns of Satan, or whatever other silliness they might come up with.
In this brutal action-platformer, you take the role of Hamlet, prince of Denmark and heir to the throne. After his father is murdered by a demon that takes the form of his own uncle and claims the kingdom for himself, Hamlet sets out for revenge. Help Hamlet climb the towers of an ancient castle, reclaim the blade Excalibur, and kill the zombie minions of the demon king Claudius!
Milton’s Paradise Lost
After falling from grace, Satan swears revenge. This bloody strategy game pits angel against demon in the struggle for all creation! Mine the pits of hell for the resources necessary to build a demonic army and march on heaven. Build hellish units like the devastating Beelzebub Bomber, stealthy Succubus Assassin, and imposing Legion of Lilith. Once you complete the main storyline, take your game online in a variety of multiplayer modes! Better to reign EVERYWHERE than serve in heaven!
Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment
This first-person shooter stars Rodya, a young russian man with a dark past. Having killed a woman to escape his debts and then discovered that the woman was his mother and left him a fortune in her will, he decides to use his newfound wealth to stamp out injustice wherever he finds it. Using technologically-advanced weapons acquired through the time machine he invents and the supernatural powers which previously lay dormant in his bloodline, Rodya is ready to punish the guilty.
The New New Testament
Jesus was sent by God to kick ass and redeem humanity, and he’s all out of redemption. Jesus returns to earth to find it populated by godless sinners and warmongers, and decides that a second flood might be necessary: a flood of BLOOD. Using the cross he was killed on as a weapon and summoning holy spirits to possess his enemies, he’s going to kill everyone who’s ever sinned. This time, instead of loaves and fishes, Jesus is handing out PAIN.
Feel free to leave your own adaptation ideas in the comments! I look forward to it.