Could Dante’s Inferno open a gateway for video game adaptations?

19 02 2010

Let’s face it, the idea of adaptations aren’t new to anything anymore. Movies have done it, television has done it, and video games have completely followed suit. What struck me odd about the recently released Dante’s Inferno game adaptation of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (The Inferno is the first of three parts in the book) is not the fact that it was an adaptation, but the fact that the material was taken straight from the book itself.

With few exceptions (like the 1982 game based off of The Hobbit for example) most video game adaptations are made following movie adaptations of literary works. Games like The Da Vinci Code, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter series have all been mostly based off of the movie iterations of such books. The character models look like the actors, the scenery is like that of the movie, etc. and practically nothing is original to the game itself.

However, the game of Dante’s Inferno is based off of the source material directly, The Divine Comedy, since there really hasn’t been any notable movie iterations of the poem before. This separated the game from other adaptations in that the game makers took the source material and put it through their own interpretations (not without a few changes for the sake of plot) to craft a more raw game. 

In Dante's Inferno, the character of Dante is changed to a Christian crusader, vying to face his sins and save his girlfriend from the devil.

After playing through the game I feel that it had a life and spirit about it since you were seeing the adaptation through a first stage and initial interpretation. With other video game adaptations, it feels like the player is literally using actors from the related movies to accomplish a few more extra tasks that couldn’t fit into the film. I really don’t think it’s worth making a game just so a player can make Daniel Radcliffe learn a few more spells.

Inferno carries a certain weight in that the creators have imagined this hell with initial inspiration from Alighieri and have applied it to their interpretation. Their versions of Lust, Greed, and Anger take the original ideas, and run with their own sparks and flavors, instead of using a pre-done idea and beating it further. It really allows for some extreme and varying plays on the original imagery. (The unbaptized infants of Limbo for example.)

It’s not entirely new, but it’s definitely fresh and welcome.

Dante’s Inferno does adapations proud for once, even if it smells very reminiscent of God of War and Devil May Cry as far as gameplay goes.

And who knows? Maybe in the future we’ll get more games like this. Where the creators don’t feel they have to use pre-rendered interpretations and just run with their own ideas. Gamers might be in store for video game works of Candide, Scaramouche, or even King Solomon’s Mines. As long as the creators use the book as their source of inspiration, rather than the subsequent films, the game will always be welcomed by me for at least one play through.

What do you think? Does Dante’s Inferno set the bar for something much bigger in the future of gaming as we know it, or will it fade out with a little time?

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One response

20 04 2010
Stacy

I haven’t played the game, but I have read the book (thanks to AP lit). I have however heard that the game is pretty well done. But maybe I heard wrong. . .this part made me laugh, because it is so true–
“With few exceptions (like the 1982 game based off of The Hobbit for example) most video game adaptations are made following movie adaptations of literary works. Games like The Da Vinci Code, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter series have all been mostly based off of the movie iterations of such books. The character models look like the actors, the scenery is like that of the movie, etc. and practically nothing is original to the game itself.”
Yes, I will openly admit that I’ve played the HP games, and they are based off of the movies, which for a HP fan, was cool at first, but I feel in love with HP because of the books, not the movies. I think it’s cool that Dante’s Inferno isn’t like other adaptations and actually takes its quess from the written word. Maybe I’ll have to play it sometime (although. . .I’m sure I would die in like the first level)

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