Gameinformer had yet another feature on the upcoming video game adaptation of Dante’s Inferno this past month. In the interview/article, the creators responded to criticism from humorless academics like me who think that it’s a little weird to turn Dante into a scythe-weilding girlfriend-rescuing muscle-bound multiply-hyphenated anti-hero.
To begin, the developers admitted that a straight up adaptation of Inferno would be kind of dull, because, as others have pointed out, “It’s basically Dante and Virgil walking through the afterlife describing what they see.” So they made some creative choices that they insist are “reasonably deferential to the core narrative of the poem” in order to turn it into an action game.
Boring literary critics take note. The following is a list of newly revealed changes (that I did not make up, really I didn’t) the game designers feel are deferential to the Inferno‘s “core narrative”. (I expect you’ll want to adjust your syllabi for next semester’s Dante surveys appropriately.)
- Dante weilds a giant scythe mounted on a chain which he can insert directly into the brains of even-more-giant demons in order to ride said demons around.
- One of Dante’s foes in the Underworld is a “smack-talking magic head attached to the bow” of an “evil ship”.
- The unbaptized babies who inhabit Limbo, the first circle of hell are also Dante’s foes. In the game they have “glowing eyes and blade arms” and leap out of something called a “hell crib” in order to attack Dante.
This last change seems to have given the Gameinformer interviewers pause, as they followed up by asking the developers if they worried that the game’s distributor, Electronic Arts, might have problems with a game in which you must fight the souls of unbpatized infants. Their response?
They [the unbaptized babies] are based in the mythology of the medieval time, and they have nasty swords for arms and try to kill you, so basically they are just another crazy enemy. Our enemies are one of the things that make the game unique. It’s been really fun to come up with enemies themed after sins, and we didn’t want to hold back, because our adult audience expects hell to be a pretty messed up place.
Somewhere in the middle of that response they stopped answering the question “Do you think it’s OK to have a game that features unbaptized babies as enemies?” and instead answered the question “If a baby with swords for arms came after you, would it be OK to kill it?” for a little while. Or, possibly, they think that the souls of unbaptized babies actually do have swords for arms, and they’re just using the medium of the adult-rated video game to explore the thorny moral questions such babies raise. Either way, this is going to be a seriously awesome game.*
*But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of CrystalDoll, a featured commenter on the official video game website: “Looks like it’s going to be an amazing game! And I’m not even Christian!”**