As you might have guessed, the _Nassau Weekly_ is full of a bunch of super-nerds who are really into books and junk. To give you an indication of how into books they are, consider this: Every week, they have their meeting in a _library_. Also, once, no lie, I saw an editor cut a hole in a book, fill it with melted butter, and make love to it. (If you want the pictures, hit me at email@example.com.)
So when the editors found out that one of their favorite books, _The Inferno_, by Dante Alighieri, had been made into a video game, they positively flipped their shit. This is not hard to understand, since statistically speaking, 99% of video games are 100% rad. I could show you the math, but you wouldn’t understand it.
Because I am the only one on the _Nass_ with both the upper body strength to carry a Playstation across campus and the minimum level of hand-eye coordination required to play a video game, I was selected to play, consider, and write up the dang thing. So I did. You’re welcome.
Please bear in mind that my total playing time only adds up to about three hours. It was due back to Blockbuster in five days, and time is money, and I’m not made of money, goddamn it.
Please also bear in mind that I have not read and really know nothing at all about _The Inferno_. I am functionally illiterate. How did I write this article, then? Good question!
The protagonist of _Dante’s Inferno_, this is the game I’m talking about, is the titular Dante, a crusader in some crusade. While off crusading, Dante somehow _significantly_ fucks up in a way that is mysterious enough to have details about it doled out over the course of the game. He comes back from crusading to find that his house has just about been entirely ransacked. Not only that, his woman Beatrice has been stabbed in the chest and is, medically speaking, dead. This would be bad enough if it weren’t for the fact that Satan shows up and takes her soul to Hell. During all this, though, her boobs are entirely on display for basically anybody to see, so it’s really pretty hard to be upset about the whole situation, but I can see where you’d be coming from if you were.
Obviously, Dante’s having none of this, and bam, we have a plot, just like that. Go get her, tiger!
The main things that the real Dante Alighieri did, as I understand them, are 1.) almost single-handedly invent the modern Italian language and 2.) not wield a scythe made out of human bones. The main things that the Dante Alighieri of _Dante’s Inferno_ does are 1.) wield a scythe made out of human bones. This historical discrepancy is never really addressed in a satisfactory way. I’m also not sure the real Dante ever did the following: stitch a cross made of red cloth onto his chest, tear the undead in half with his hands, leap like twenty feet on a regular basis, or ride beasts. Luckily, _Dante’s Inferno_ Dante isn’t a total fucking lameo like his real life counterpart.
The game starts off while you’re still out a-crusading and absolutely laying waste to a bunch of identical Muslims to such an extent that they literally become a bloody red mist by the time you’re finished wrecking their sorry selves. But look out, Dante! A sneaky Arab drops a dagger in your back, causing Death to be like, “Whoa, get a load of this guy.” Obviously, this is a non-issue for you as Dante, who basically approaches the fact that Death himself has come for him like no rational person would: he wails on the skeletal motherfucker for ten or so minutes with an enormous poleax. This yields results, and bam, Dante’s got a fly-as-hell new scythe for the mantle. That you just annihilated Death doesn’t seem to be handled as a particularly serious thing worth being concerned about.
But so like I said before, you realize upon returning that some serious shit has gone down in your absence. Any normal person would be like, “Well, I should do my best to rebuild the shattered fragments of my life and go through the grieving process with quiet dignity.” As we know, though, Dante Alighieri is off-the-charts batshit and decides to pursue Satan and his lady-friend and wail on him with an enormous poleax until the situation is resolved. Anyone else who gets in the way will basically receive the same treatment.
As you start tearing the denizens of Hell so many new assholes that their asses look like showerheads, you start to rack up your soul count. You can then use these souls to purchase new abilities or improve old ones. These are categorized into “holy” and “unholy.” Holy abilities tend to involve counterattacking and shooting crosses out of your chest. (Did I mention that you shoot crosses out of your chest? You shoot crosses out of your chest.) Unholy abilities are generally exciting new ways of absolutely ruining somebody’s day with the business end of your human-bone-scythe. You can accrue more souls by grabbing enemies, at which point you are given the choice of punishing or absolving them. Punishing them results in Dante dismembering them in so brutal a manner as to make the elderly weep, while absolving them results in me calling you a pussy.
You also learn magic. The religious implications of this are staggering.
Along my way, I encountered a variety of enemies. Here are those that I came up against in my time with the game:
Shambling corpses – These are roughly as threatening as a really angry child whose arms I have cut off.
Horrid flying things – Shoot these fuckers with crosses from your chest until they are dealt with is my advice to you.
Demons – If you look closely, you notice that they don’t actually have horns, but a hat with horns on it. Once you realize this, you wonder, who makes their hats? Are they regulation, or does everyone bring their own to work? Dante’s Inferno doesn’t seem to want to tell me what’s going on with that.
Enormous, fire-breathing hell-beasts – After you take out the asshole up top, you get to ride these harder than a furry in a barnyard.
You also encounter the souls of famous people who have been condemned to torment and are given the choice of absolving or condemning them. In my time playing, I came across Pontius Pilates and Orpheus. I absolved them, because everybody needs someone to cut them a break now and again.
Eventually you make your way to the ferry that takes you to Hell. An unholy vessel, it echoes with the screams of the damned as they are loaded in droves, naked and shameful. In this regard, it is a lot like the Staten Island ferry. Unlike the Staten Island ferry, however, it has an enormous head on the front that spouts annoying slogans like “Abandon hope, all ye who enter,” and “Every kiss begins with Kay.” You’d have to be some kind of man-child not to realize as soon as you see the giant head that you’re going to rip it off, and sure enough, after climbing around for a little while, doing a “puzzle,” and seriously murdering a number of individuals, you do. And then bam, Hell time.
This is the point at which I stopped playing. I feel like I have a pretty solid grasp on what the game was all about from that point onward: Go through Hell one level at a time, dealing with the particular brand of motherfucker served up by that level, until it’s time to go toe-to-toe with the big man himself. Based on my limited knowledge of both the game and the source material, here is how I imagine the rest of the it goes:
First level – Sin of Dickishness – People here are generally pretty rude, and it’ll definitely get on your nerves pretty quickly. The whole place is set up like an RMV office and is just on the whole unpleasant. Souls encountered: Napoleon, the principal from _Saved By The Bell_.
Second level – Sin of Wizardry – This place is chock full of the dirtiest fucking wizards around. Had I played this, this would have been my favorite level, because I hate wizards. The second level of Hell looks a lot like my living room, as set up during my third birthday party. Souls encountered: the magician from my third grade birthday party, financial wizard Matthew Lesko.
Third level – Sin of Being the Lead Singer of Journey – If you stop believing, you lose, kind of like the horse in the swamp in _The Neverending Story_. Souls encountered: Steve Perry, Robert Fleischman, Steve Augeri, Jeff Scott Soto, that Filipino guy they picked up from the cover band. (How crazy is that? I mean, guy fronts a Journey cover band, _and then gets picked up by Journey to front Journey_. I would lose my shit.)
Fourth level – Sin of Pretension – REHASHED JOKES ABOUT INDIE MUSIC AND FILM. ESOTERIC REFERENCES. GENERALLY SNIDE TONE. Souls encountered: Dash Snow, John Updike.
Fifth level – Sin of Community Service – Didn’t know it was a sin? Neither did they! God is full of tricks. The fifth level is a one-room schoolhouse, which you furnish with modern amenities. Souls encountered: Cesar Chavez, Lyndon Johnson.
Sixth level – Sin of Being Wrong – Everyone who has ever been wrong about anything ends up here. It’s a real shit-show, all around. The sixth level looks like the set of _The Weakest Link_. Souls encountered: Charles Darwin, whoever invented the electronic drum kit.
Seventh level – Sin of Laziness –
Eighth level – Sin of Will Feinstein – This is a level made entirely for William Watkin Feinstein. He knows what he did. It looks like his house, and smells almost as bad. Souls encountered: Will Feinstein (hint: condemn).
Ninth level – Satanopolis – This is where Satan lives. It looks like a house, but with horns. Stab him until he’s got more holes than a Dan Brown novel. Then, fuck your girlfriend.
You win at literature!