Overall Score 85%
Enter The Story: Dante's Divine Comedy
Hello there, I'm Peri. I'm an angel, I think - up here in Heaven, time and memory can get a bit confused. I've been sent back to Earth on a mission to guide a poet called Dante on a journey through the afterlife - he and a wandering spirit called Virgil. The people on Earth have grown lazy - rather than trying to learn and grow, they've got stuck in a rut - and Heaven is hoping that if they were to get a glimpse of the afterlife, it might get them moving again. If it doesn't, then Earth will be judged a failure and the world will end.
My first task is simple enough - to get Dante and Virgil together. Poor Dante is somewhat confused - he's lost in the forest and has no idea how he got there. He needs a guide to lead him through the various circles of Hell, and that's where Virgil comes in. After he's seen Hell, he'll have to get through Purgatory - and might be given a glimpse of Heaven; then, as a poet, it is his job to write about it all. This will then inspire the rest of the world, and the Earth experiment will continue.
Being an angel, the mortal world cannot see or hear me, but I can influence people's thoughts - I can make people think of things with a "right click", even if those things are on the other side of the world. Mostly this means guiding the thoughts and actions of Dante and Virgil, but it works on any thinking creature. I can also sense how a creature is feeling with a "double click", and if I'm not sure what I should be doing I can call upon the angel Michael back in Heaven - he says to think of him as friend one, or F1 for short. These terms seem strange to me but, somehow, I find them all quite intuitive.
Seeing the world from up here in Heaven is rather strange. The landscapes are vivid and often beautiful (though perhaps "striking" is a better term for the vistas of Hell) yet the people within them are grey and almost formless as they wander through these landscapes. Yet they can be told apart - Dante and Virgil are easy to spot - and one can have no difficulty in recognising the various monsters that inhabit Hell! The most difficult thing about this way of seeing is navigation - sometimes it can be hard to find the way to the next location amidst the scenery, and the only way to connect someone with a distant thought is to go back through every location, one at a time. A map to make this faster would be nice.
Everywhere I explore, there is the most astounding music. Often one can hear choirs in the background and a number of well-known classical pieces accompany Dante's journey. One doesn't hear the players in this tale speak, however - one has to "read" their thoughts. Few things make noise that I can hear - beyond the music, that is - though the popping of hailstones on the second level of Hell was a particularly bizarre one.
I had thought this would be a simple if arduous journey - I was quite wrong. In order to progress through the various levels of Hell, Dante and Virgil must often go back many times to places they had earlier visited. There are other worlds than these, too - I could also visit the wonders of revolutionary France, as shown by Victor Hugo, and more tales are yet to be told. All are linked. Even within Dante's quest there are stories aplenty - the stories of those denizens of Hell, how they lived and how they ended up in Hell. Poor Dante has a very limited view of the world - he cannot see that his devout Christianity is not the only way and cannot see past his own prejudice towards others. Hell is not quite the place he imagined.
One could (and probably would) spend a very long time in this story. There are so many people to meet, stories to hear and things to try. Sometimes I can get quite literally lost in it all and would very much like a faster way to get back to where I was! As time has little meaning in Heaven and Hell, there's no reason why Dante, a poet from the thirteenth century, cannot meet a spirit from the nineteenth. There's even a musician in Hell that used to play the synthesiser, a term which confuses them both! (I gather that this man is responsible for some of the music that we hear as we play through... some people have quite literally entered this story.) The angel Michael is a great help when I run out of ideas but this can still be limited. Sometimes the solution to a problem is not clear, though talking to people will often provide some hints. Sometimes the solution is clear, but the way to conduct it is not, and one can be randomly clicking - a very annoying thing to do when the items you wish to connect are worlds apart.
The Divine Comedy (as Dante describes it, "something bad that ends as something good") is a difficult tale for many to read; being able to "enter the story" and explore it first hand is simply brilliant. It is a strange experience - those used to "adventure games" may well miss having an inventory of useful items. This is really all about exploration and discovery more than solving puzzles; about learning the tale and the mythology behind the characters within it. As you can connect any items with anyone, the entire story is your inventory. Whether this method of storytelling will suit you or not, I couldn't say - but the experience is certainly worth trying.
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