Jonathan Knight on Dante's Inferno

Jonathan Knight on Dante's Inferno


A name like Dante's Inferno certainly speaks to the imagination. We got in touch with Jonathan Knight, one of the creative minds behind the game, and asked him all about Dante and his troublesome relationship with the Nine Circles of Hell.

Hooked Gamers: Hi! Thanks for participating in our interview.

Jonathan Knight: Thanks for asking!

Hooked Gamers: Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what your job is on the team?

Jonathan Knight: I'm Jonathan Knight, the executive producer and creative director for Dante's Inferno.

Hooked Gamers: Dante's Inferno is based on a 14th century Italian epic poem. What challenges did you face in translating it into something gamers would want to play?

Jonathan Knight on Dante's Inferno
Jonathan Knight: The Divine Comedy has been adapted over and over throughout the centuries. Great painters, storytellers, musicians, sculptors, etc., have taken the poem and illuminated it in their medium with their own spin. We see ourselves following in that tradition, which continues up to the present day with books, films, and now the game. The biggest challenge for the video game is that the game is very action-packed, due to the interactive nature of the medium, and so we needed to weave a new storyline that allows for more action and conflict. We brought in an Oscar-nominated screenwriter to help us with that, and the result is a story that layers nicely on top of the poem, using the same principal characters, but with a more dramatic twist.

Hooked Gamers: Are you worried that the game's roots as a poem about the medieval world-view of death and the afterlife will be a turnoff to gamers?

Jonathan Knight: Hardly! Gamers, like a lot of people, appear to be fascinated by the mythology around the afterlife. It's an incredibly intriguing subject, and Dante Alighieri's particularly imaginative and medieval vision of Hell is something that has never been really delivered in a game before.

Hooked Gamers: In the poem, there are reference in each circle of hell to mythological and real life sinners who best exemplify each sin, but who will be largely unknown to modern audiences. How will you introduce these characters to gamers and tell their stories?

Jonathan Knight: For many of these sinners that you encounter in the game, the player is given a choice to either punish or absolve them. At the point of that choice, we show a short description of the sins they committed in life, to help players with the decision. They also speak to the player and beg for forgiveness. And their back stories are further told in the menus in a feature we call Dante's Journal. We've really taken the literature seriously, and have implemented a number of ways (Virgil, the Journal, the Map of Hell, etc.) in which players can tie their experience of the game back to the original poem.

Hooked Gamers: Out of all the genres, why did you decide to make Dante's Inferno a third-person action title?

Jonathan Knight on Dante's Inferno
Jonathan Knight: Because we thought it would be the most fun to play! There's nothing better than a fast-paced heart-pounding action game, and the backdrop of Dante's Hell and all its monsters, creatures, and epic geography, makes a great foundation for an action game. Granted, the original poem is slower-paced and more thoughtful, hence the adaptation of the story, but we think it all works together quite well. And not all of the game is action-packed; there are puzzles and adventure moments, platforming, stories, etc., so that the pace of the game has a lot of variety to it.

Hooked Gamers: The game has already seen its fair share of controversy. How do you expect it will be received after release? What do you expect when the game is rated? Will you edit it to fit all markets or leave it as it is intended?

Jonathan Knight: We think the game will have a fantastic reception, it's testing extremely well in playtests, and we're really excited for the release. Once people get their hands on it, experience the incredible story, the depth and variety to the 9 circles of Hell, all the amazing enemies, relics, secrets, the fast 60-frames-per-second demon-slaying gameplay, the deep Holy/Unholy upgrade system, and all the special featuresů we think word will spread quite quickly that Dante's Inferno is THE must-have game!

Hooked Gamers: It is our tradition to give developers a chance to say something about the game that they are desperate to get out. Is there anything burning on your lips?

Jonathan Knight: There's a lot of naked people in Hell. A lot.

Hooked Gamers: Thank you!
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