The video game “Dante’s Inferno” [Electronic Arts] which has already generated 10,000 web pages and has a following of 20,000 fans on facebook, has been released in Italy. “Blood and gore, intense violence, nudity and sexual content”, warns the game’s website encouragingly.
Loosely based on Dante’s “Inferno”, written between 1308 and 1321, the game’s main protagonist is not the poet Dante but a knight of the Third Crusade, Dante, son of Alighiero. After being wounded, this Dante returns home to Florence, only to find that his beloved Beatrice has been murdered. She comes to him in a vision and admits to having made a pact with Lucifer, who must marry a heaven-bound soul to free himself. Dante must now follow Beatrice to hell to free her soul.
The player controls Dante as he descends into Limbo and the nine circles of hell. Dante is confronted with all the sins of his past and his war crimes. He does meet Virgil and some of the dialogues are taken directly from the original Dante. Defenders of the game point out that the player does have to make moral choices.
The game’s “currency” is souls and these can be collected upon defeat of Dante’s enemies or by unlocking or upgrading attack combinations and abilities. As Dante meets the inhabitants of hell, a mini-game featuring the characters’ sins takes centre-screen and the player can decide whether to punish or absolve them.
It will be interesting to see whether, in the land of the original Dante, the game will give rise to protests, as it has elsewhere. Some of its opponents are Dante Alighieri purists, whilst others claim that the game is blasphemous. However, according to an Associated Press article in 2009, one of the protests in the USA was a publicity stunt staged by the game’s developers.
Would you buy this game?