Christian Symbolism in the Videogame Infamous

A little kid who’s scared and cold doesn’t care if his clothes fit.  He just wants to be warm.

– The Voice of Survival

The overall idea I’m pushing is that Cole, the superhuman protagonist of the video game Infamous whose body acts as a conduit for electricity, is a Christ-like figure acting out a part of the story of Christ.  Here are some points of interest:

Cole heals the sick and, in some sense, raises the dead.  He also casts out demons: The Reapers, Dust Men, and First Sons are all demonic in appearance.  They wear masks, they are mindlessly savage, and they’re completely dehumanized.  According to the story of Christ, he also healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons with other-worldy powers.

Cole descends into the underworld (the sewers) over and over again in order bring the city back to life, and he does so by placing his hands on giant electrodes on either side of his body.  This looks exactly like a pose of crucifixion, and also seems to be quite painful.  When Cole first descends, the city is blacked-out, without light or power; when he rises again, light and power are restored.  According to the story of Christ, the crucifixion was followed by utter darkness and a three day period of death (and an implied descent into the underworld) followed by resurrection and ascent into a world of light.  It is also worthy to note that Cole does this over and over again.  It is quite repetitive, not unlike the way we need our myths told to us again and again, only dressed up differently each time; for instance, Odin hanging from the tree Yggdrasil in order to gain wisdom, or the death and resurrection of Osiris, or Bacchus’ Christ-like ability to turn water into wine, and so on.

Kessler, the game’s antagonist (and whose name sounds like Tesla, history’s forgotten “master of electromagnetism”), plays the role of God the Father.  (SPOILER ALERT.)  Kessler is Cole from an alternate future; he is the same as Cole, but distinct.  Kessler masterminded Cole’s suffering for the greater good.  In the same way, God the Father masterminded Christ the Son’s suffering and resurrection.  God the Father and Christ the Son are two distinct entities, but are also considered the same being.  That is, Christ is God, just as Cole is Kessler.

(SPOILER ALERT.)  Kessler masterminded the events of the game in order to strengthen Cole for an eventual confrontation with an enemy known only as the Beast.  The Beast is never encountered during actual gameplay, but is expected to arrive in the future.  In the Book of Revelations, there is a monstrous entity known as the Beast (whose number of identification is known by heavy metal enthusiasts everywhere) who, according to Christian mythology, will arrive in the future and work all manner of evil.  Both versions of the Beast are forces of evil not yet present, but which are destined to be confronted by the forces of good in the future.

(SPOILER.)  Just as the problem of the existence of evil has plagued all religions which showcase a “good” God (that is, “If God is good, how can there be evil?”), Kessler seems to exist beyond human conceptions of good and evil just as the God of the Old Testament does.  Whether the problem is a starving child or the sacrifice of dropping people from a building in order to test Cole, Kessler believes that the end justifies the means.  Theoretically, God the Father also holds the same view.  In the scene in which Kessler tests Cole by forcing him to sacrifice one person over many, we have a “Garden of Gethsemane” scene in which Cole violently argues with Kessler’s means, just as Christ argued with his own God’s harsh, inhumanly cruel means.  It’s amazing, the schizoid break that can occur when one person occupies two different perspectives within the same event!

(SPOILER.)  Cole is eventually betrayed by his disciple Zeke, just as Christ was betrayed by practically every one of his disciples.  John (the secret agent who studied Kessler and helped Cole near the end of the game), who appears after Zeke the disciple and thus could be considered an apostle, is killed while fulfilling his personal spiritual duty just as many of the apostles were martyred.  If it turns out that John will become the Beast, as some have speculated, then this could be equivalent to the early, humble, almost hippie-like practitioners of Christianity turning into the force that gave us the Inquisition, witch hunts, and stereotypically crooked televangelists.

There is also an interesting Kessler and Alden / Cain and Abel dynamic, in which Alden had precedence within the First Sons until Kessler overcame him, just as Abel had precedence in God’s eyes and was slain by Cain.  Even the name of the group, the First Sons, directly correlates to Cain and Abel as the “first sons” of Adam and Eve.

And, perhaps most shocking of all… Cole and Christ both start with the same letter.

Hey readers! If you liked this post, you should check out some of my books. I’ve got an epic series called Demonworld, which is equal parts Mad Max and Lord of the Rings (think “science fantasy”), and a much-loved gamebook series called Heavy Metal Thunder which is currently a hyperlinked Kindle book but will be a fancy phone app any day now.

9 responses to “Christian Symbolism in the Videogame Infamous

  1. OH WAIT. His name is Sessler. The guy on F4. Damn, that shows you how much I watch that show that I don’t even go back and correct my second mistake, that the show is called G4.

    But wait a minute (you like waiting?) this Adam Kessler guy, not the physical fitness trainer, but this comedian seems pretty good!

    She should be in the Bible too! And I need a doctor. How many typos and mistakes am I going to make. Gosh dern my hands I just called a guy a she. What the hell is going on. These stupid fingers of mine. Well, you don’t have to post this or any of my comments so I can rest easy at night.


  2. This is almost point-by-point the stuff I noticed after I played through the series, and I was wondering if I was the only one. The only other similar analysis I encountered was that of a youth pastor (no, really).

    Jesus imagery is some of the most common in superhero stories. Objectively speaking, it’s an extremely influential narrative, making it something that draws in readers/viewers/gamers. What’s interesting is that while some superheros represent the divine side (think Superman), most superhero stories that depict their heroes as a Christ-like figure go for the fragile, human, side instead (think Spiderman, Batman, Infamous). If you played Infamous 2, it’s pretty clear how they played this out, with Cole’s Garden of Gethsemane being the rooftop with Zeke, Kuo, and Nix.

    Anyway, this is a really neat article, and it’s cool to see that I’m not the only one who saw all the parallels. Anyway, I’ll have to read more of your blog.


    • Hey Sean, thanks for the kind words. When I originally wrote this piece, I was working (well, “working”) for a video game magazine. Even though it was online, and despite the fact that the internet is filled with people who like to talk about all kinds of wild stuff, I had to twist arms and threaten lives to have this thing included alongside a host of dreary, monotonous articles about release dates, numerical ratings for games, and various sports game highlights. I was later doubly shocked when I realized that my boring peers were right; when the article was published, most people didn’t give a shit, but then there was also a vocal minority who would chime in to argue that the studio responsible for Infamous didn’t *intentionally* put any of this in the game, and thus it is all bullshit and I sound like a moron for even speculating about it.

      I think it was around this time that I started to seriously doubt whether or not I was truly a “nerd”. I’m not so sure anymore. I think I lack the inherent autistic, child-like sensibilities that a true nerd needs. Also I’ve experienced and read too much about the human mind to place any credence on its “conscious” contents. Most nerds would be blown away to find out that the vast majority of the human mind is concealed from itself, and that the conscious part is only a thin film that rationalizes and makes excuses for the part that we don’t see, can’t see, or won’t see. These nerds are dreaming of the day when we can make a self-aware artificial intelligence that can outshine us like a god with all its human and superhuman capabilities, but they don’t even bother to wonder if this isn’t just a dream that they have for themselves – the dream of turning their automaton-like selves into fully realized human beings.

      Maybe I’m rambling. I have to admit I haven’t actually played the sequels to Infamous, despite the fact that I want to very badly. Unfortunately I no longer own a PS3, but I’m plugging away at my books and hoping for the day when my bank account will no longer look like ET when he was dying on the bathroom floor, pale and chalky with its hand raised toward me as a gentle plea for help. Oh, poor bank account!


      • Glad to see the comment was appreciated. It’s too bad that your analysis got the harsh reaction that it did. Unfortunately, that sort of thing is common from online “nerds” who learned the wrong lessons from being outsiders growing up. A lot of people who work in the gaming world leave because they don’t feel like dealing with, and catering to, groups like that.

        I’ll be honest, I’m not sure about what you say about the human mind- a lot of people say humans only use 10% of their brains, but different parts of the brain serve different functions. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying there.

        Anyway, I would highly recommend the second game. It plays very well (in fact, I decided to buy a PS3 after playing a demo of it), and has a very engaging plot, both on the good and the evil play-through. Sucker Punch brings Cole’s story to a very satisfying conclusion either way.


  3. Hey, I’ll be honest, this has got to be the best thing I’ve read about Infamous in a long while. It really is awesome to have my suspicions brought to light with people who feel the same way! Your theory is amazing, well thought out, and very detailed. You have some really good stuff to back up your article with as well. Keep up your works and everything you do!


    • Thank you, dignitias! I’m just glad that some other people can see this, too; most people just thought I was crazy. I guess that’s why blogging for myself is better than writing for a gaming site!

      I still haven’t played First Sons or First Light, but I’m hoping there’s interesting stuff hiding in those games, too!


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