As we’ve mentioned previously, Perdition is heavily inspired by the works of Dante Alighieri, particularly “The Inferno”. What we’re really trying to do with Perdition is to stay true to the world that Dante created rather than attempt to tread in his exact footsteps through hell, to play out our own drama on the stage that he built so long ago.
Dante’s Hell is one of the most vivid and enduring visions in history, itself combining classical and medieval influences into an absolutely unforgettable landscape of demons, tortured souls, and classical figures that range from the Medusa to the Minotaur. As with all epic, “The Inferno” locates itself within the grand continuum of the epic tradition; it treats all of the epic poetry that came before it (particularly classical epic) as being part of its own history. Within the text, the reader can find references to all of the various pilgrims and heroes that have entered the underworld before Dante’s famous pilgrimage – Theseus, Orpheus, Hercules – and more importantly, we see the impact of those journeys upon the landscape itself. Dante’s Hell is one and the same with the classical Hades, one and the same with the underworld braved by Virgil’s Aeneas – the same place at a very different time, for in Dante’s hell, fallen angels and the blackest of demons stand shoulder to shoulder with the creatures of classical myth and legend. In the space between Virgil and Dante, Christianity has turned Hades into Hell – and yet the place remains the same, the universal underworld, the site of the eternal city of the dead and the damned: Dis.
Nor are we strictly limiting ourselves to the vision of Dante and Virgil – Milton’s Paradise Lost, with its’ powerful accounts of the fall of man and angel remains a tremendous source of inspiration and a wonderful resource. The blind poet was the first to envision the fall, a topic previously “…unattempted yet in prose or rhyme”, and his work truly brings the denizens of hell to life as characters rather than the single shaded, nearly allegorical figures of evil they exist as in so many other accounts, a trait we hope to be able to emulate in the development of our own characters – even an enemy in game should not be treated simply as a fleshy speed bump in the path of the oncoming freight train that is the player in most brawlers. A boss fight is not a mandatory capstone to a level if it would serve no purpose other than to provide a few more moments of meaningless combat. This is a game as much about exploring a world that has been imagined for literally hundreds of years as it is about combat – though there will be plenty of that as well.
What we seek to do in Perdition is to travel the third step on the path of Virgil and Dante, to imagine what has changed in this world seven hundred years after Dante’s account,four hundred after Milton’s, what this eternal underworld has become and why.
We, as the dev team, have an entire timeline of hell to explore ourselves, from its’ classical origins to the stunning impact of the Fall, and we’ll be sharing slices of that with you here in the coming weeks in the form of short pieces of fiction from a variety of perspectives. Most of this content won’t even come close to being included in the game – but it will form a solid bedrock on which to build the foundations of our game world, and like any foundation it will be always be there even if it isn’t immediately visible.
If you’re interested, check back in a few weeks for the first installment.