Dante’s Inferno: The Game: The Review: The Preview

So, they made a video game out of Dante’s Inferno called Dante’s Inferno. You may have heard.

I’ve got no solid numbers to back me up on this, but I’m pretty sure I’m the best possible person to review this game, as I have degrees in both Medieval Studies and Being Kickass at Video Games,* and a working copy of the game for Xbox 360, which I have played through from beginning to end. Indeed, as you can see, my entire life may have been leading up to this review. Yet be that as it may, this is also one of those times where the mixed audience of my blog makes it difficult to know where to begin.

Some of you reading this are medievalists yourselves, and thus like all medievalists who are not me, you have only a tenuous understanding of what I mean when I use the words “video” and “game” successively.** The rest of you, the ones who come here for the monkey and poop jokes (and you know who you are) are down with video games, but think that Dante is that chubby guy in the movies made by the other chubby guy who gets into fights with airplanes.

In general, my review of the game, which will be posted later today, (or possibly tomorrow, depending) will be pitched to the latter group, so I feel obligated to first take a moment to explain what a video game is for all those poncey academic types. I think it’s best to work by analogy:

A video game is like a book, one with many chapters.  When you get the book, you’re only allowed to read the first chapter, and if you don’t read it well enough, you have to read it again.  When you’ve finally read the first chapter correctly, you can go on to the next, and after that’s read well the next, and so on and so on.

Often it’ll just be one particular page that’s hard to read, and if you mess it up you’ll have to go back and read the whole chapter over from the beginning.

Scattered throughout any given chapter are optional pages, usually very boring and repetitive ones that you’re not compelled to read, but if you do read them, it makes it easier to read the later chapters.***

Sometimes the book will refuse to let you read the next chapter until you’ve done something else unrelated, like solve a crossword puzzle or write your name with excellent penmanship in the margins.

Sometimes the book will suddenly have much better vocabulary and sentence structure, and usually during those times the book reads itself for you.

If you need to stop reading the book altogether for a while and go do something else, you are only allowed to put your bookmark in between certain pages scattered at regular intervals throughout the book.

If you want to reread a particular passage of the book, you may only start at one of the bookmarks and read forward until you get to it.

These books all require very fancy bookcases to read, and periodically new, more advanced bookcases are released which will not hold the books you currently have any more, forcing you to buy (often inferior) sequels to the books you’ve already read, or occasionally updated versions of the original books with sharper text and fancier fonts.

Also, most of these books are about jumping.

There, now that we have that cleared up, we can proceed to the game proper, which I will post about in due time.****

*And yes, they do give degrees in that. Where do you think Mario got his M.D.? Same place I got my PhD in BKAVG.
**Hint: It has nothing to do with me seeing things in Latin.
***Yahtzee Croshaw beat me to this point, and suggested, further, that perhaps the remaining pages somehow became easier to turn after you’ve done the optional ones.
****Or, possibly, overdue time, knowing me.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Steve Muhlberger

    Really, now.

    It's not medievalists that need this explanation; not even old ones; it's old childless ones.

    I'm not much on "video" "games" (repetitive, and all about jumping) but I did not need this explanation.

    But I bet you had fun writing it.

  • A Castle of Romance

    Hahahaha~ So true 😛

  • Lucy

    I'm almost ashamed to say it, but as a 24-year-old medievalist who has never played a video game in her life, this made more sense than any explanations friends have tried to give me… Alas, it would seem I am a stereotype waiting to happen.

  • messierobject

    Got Medieval's covered Joust and Zelda (sort of) and this, but will it ever cover the only game to attempt to depict the life of a skeleton knight who goes around whacking things with his detached arm?

  • Got Medieval

    All in good time, dear Mr. Object. All in good time.

  • motley

    That is the single best description of a video game I have read. You made my day, thanks 🙂

  • Insignificant Wrangler

    I'm in classical rhetoric with a second degree in BKAVG. I thought the post was fun (and having published a few articles on Lacan and video games, I appreciate the complexity of dealing with those mixed audiences).

    I would point out that gamers, particularly, would have another Dante in mind.

  • Pour of Tor

    I just read this post aloud to my partner *even as he played the demo for Dante's Inferno*, an experience which he is regularly punctuating with exclamations of "really? Did this happen in Dante?". To which I responded: "Dante as a crusader who muscularly does away with Death while in the Holy Land? Beatrice appearing nude and creepily veiny at every possible opportunity while being demon-violated? Can't say that it does. But it has been a couple of years since I taught it…."

  • seawasp

    I'll note that at least as likely an interpretation of "Dante" would be "that body-hopping Alchemist woman in the first Fullmetal Alchemist series" .

  • Dante

    I occasionally write about video games for academic audiences myself and I must say that your explanation is the best one I've ever seen.

    P.S. The Dante of this post is neither the real Dante or the video game one but rather my cat. He is named after the real Dante, though.

  • Won-Tolla

    You wouldn't happen to be related to the grandfather in The Princess Bride? 😉

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