EA's 'Dante's Inferno' and other classic literature we'd like to see as a video game

Abandon all hope ye who enter the secret code to Level 9. The first part of Dante Alighieri’s pre-Renaissance masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, has been adapted into a video game by Electronic Arts. The game, which hits stores Feb. 9, recasts the moody, reflective poet as a buff, sword-swinging Crusader out to save his beloved’s soul from the fiery clutches of Lucifer. It looks like there will be a lot less introspection and whole lot more decapitation than in the original. Surprisingly, though, Dante’s phantasmal tour guide Virgil hasn’t been changed into a wisecracking talking dog that can give you hints.

This isn’t the first work of literature to be transformed into a game, but up to now it’s usually been via movies. Where the Harry Potter and Beowulf games had just as much to do with the films as the books, Dante’s Inferno skips that step, ready to muck around in public domain without the help of Hollywood. BioShock, which has a sequel releasing the same day, certainly borrowed from Ayn Rand’s philosophy when designing its Art Deco dystopia (it even had a character not-so-subtly named Atlas) but it didn’t purport to be a straight interpretation of her books.

This newfound interest in literary gaming got us thinking: What other classics would we like to see coming to a console near us?

Don Quixote: A lot like the old arcade game Joust, except your enemy is a windmill.

Hamlet: Polonius’ Revenge: This re-imagining is a stealth game in the mode of Metal Gear Solid that has you sneaking throughout Elsinore, hiding behind curtains and listening to other people’s conversations. But don’t get caught, or it’s curtains for you!

Edgar Allen Poe’s RavenHunt: Use the light-gun to shoot at those pesky ravens rapping at your chamber door.

Catch-22: There is no way to beat this game.

The Brothers Karamazov: Power of Three: Dmitri wields the power of ice, Ivan the power of fire, and Alyosha the power of heart. Together they must face down the final boss, an evil, black-robed maniac called the Grand Inquisitor.

Finnegans Wakeboarding: Welcome to the world of Joycean extreme sports!

What do you think? Excited for Dante’s debut on the Xbox 360 and PS3? Any other titles you’d like to see?


Comments (31 total) Add your comment
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  • Marie

    I think Paradise Lost could be dynamite if done correctly.

  • Stacie

    A Wrinkle in Time. Fight the bullies! Find a tesseract! Get Charles Wallace back!

    • anon

      Love it!

  • Carla

    As someone who read the whole Divine comedy while in school I cringe at the idea of Dante as a warrior who saves Beatrice (by the way, she need not be saved, she’s in Heaven), but if one person out of 10.000 just feels like reading extracts from the original book, it’s ok. It’s a pity 50% of its original strenght will be lost in translation.

    • Danno

      WHOA!!!! How about a spoiler alert for those of us who haven’t read the whole thing? not cool.

      • Marley Gilliam

        Actually, you learn that Beatrice is actually in Heaven about 5 minutes into the book. Yeah. Uh…

  • Michael

    As one who also read all of the Divine Comedy in college, I have to say, I think this game idea is sweet! Sure it’ll bend the text/ not be textually accurate. But when I was reading Inferno/Purgatorio/Paradiso for the Dante class, all I could think was how cool of a movie or video game it would all make! I think it’s a great idea! Now, whether it lives up to the idea of a game I had in my head or not, well, that’s another issue entirely. By the way for those interested, a really good English translation of the original texts is the John D. Sinclair versions (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Divine-Comedy-3/Dante-Alighieri/e/9780195004144/?itm=81&USRI=paradiso). He gives great little explanations after each canto, plus there’s a side-by-side text of the Italian and the English text. I highly recommend them.

  • Michael

    Also, I think some medieval literature could make some pretty sweet games, like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Layamon’s Brut, Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, or King Horn… in fact, King Horn is perfect material for a video game. And of course, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales would be difficult, but an immense world to be immersed in.

  • Kat

    The Dark Elf novels would be great! Drizzt shows up in Baldur’s Gate and Champions of Norath, but I want his own game! Also Dragaonlance Chronicles. Raistlin, Tanis, and Tasslehoff. What more could you ask for?

    • taiwantimo

      Agreed with the Dragonlance. Chronicles.

  • Doris

    How about
    Homer’s Illiad and Odysssey
    JRR Tolkien’s collection

    • James

      Like there haven’t been 300+ (slight exaggeration) LOTR games already. Homer’d be cool though.

  • James

    It’s a comic, but I think Evil Ernie would be fun. Or how about Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files? Three Musketeers?

  • Daniel F

    ‘Finnegan’s Wakeboarding’ = priceless. Thank you, Keith.

  • kevin E

    Catch-22: There is no way to beat this game. “Jump Yossarian, jump now.”

  • Ivo

    Simple high-score game: Catch as many sheep as possible before they fall off the cliff!

  • Ivo

    Because children would be too disturbing?

  • Rob Grizzly

    Polonius’ Revenge, Raven Hunt, Catch-22. Pretty funny stuff! I actually like the artistic styles EA and Visceral Games have taken with Dantes Inferno. But it seems too much like God of War.

    A Sims-esque take on Lord of the Flies might be neat.

  • Antonio

    Dean Koontz’s The Taking

  • Jay Cross

    Robert Heinlein’s “Glory Road” would be perfect for the sci-fi or role-playing crowd.

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