How can Dante absolve or punish anyone? By what power or authority?
Lucifer. Just Lucifer. How is he supposed to be manipulative if he is a raving lunatic that looks Obviously Evil? Are people in that universe so stupid that they fall for every demon stereotype every conceived?
You mean to tell me a person whose entire "career" is based on purging the church's enemies wouldn't recognise someone who looked like every demon stereotype as a demon?
Well the only one we see make a Deal with the Devil is Beatrice, and it's likely she never really trusted him. Her concern for Dante just outweighed the obvious warnings of dealing with Lucifer.
Near the end of Gluttony, Lucifer implies that the people Dante fought against in the Third Crusade are in a different Hell, suggesting that there's some degree of All Myths Are True going on and each faith has its own afterlife. Normally, I'd consider this an acceptable break from the poem, except that the virtuous pagans and various Greek and Roman mythical beings are still in the Christian Hell. Inconsistency much?
Maybe the implication is supposed to be that just all different facets of monotheism are true? Or that geographical divides somehow play in? There doesn't seem to be any Hindu or Buddhist damned, either.
It could be that this hell existed before the rise of Christianity/Judaism and God just appropriated it and set the Greek and Roman mythical beings to work there.
Or Lucifer is just screwing with him. He's the damned devil, lying is one of the things he does.
It's possible the game developers didn't want to feature Dante fighting damned Muslims, considering the current political climate and various controversies surrounding fundamentalist Islam.
Lucifer said something along the lines of "This isn't their Hell, it's yours". A lot of people seem to take this to mean that the Christian Hell is different from the Muslim one, but I took it more as "This isn't Random Saracen #20934's Hell, it's Dante's". Lucifer is in control for almost the entire game, and he does make a point of highlighting Dante's sins with what he sees in Hell; Dante runs into way more people from his life than seems likely by random chance, so having him fight a bunch of crusaders is an extension of this, hammering in the point that what he did was evil. Many or even all of the Muslims who died in the crusades are probably in there somewhere, but showing them to Dante would if anything help validate his actions in life, so Lucifer leaves them off the tour.
Or it could be just how Dante sees it and everybody sees it differently. After all, the way Lucifer says "their" and "yours" sounds very personal, not broad.
Why is there a city in Hell anyway? Is that where all the fallen angels and other resident demons who conduct all the torment to the souls actually live, or does Lucifer offer some souls a place to rest once in a while? What's the going rate on apartments there? Who's the mayor? Does it have a stable economy? For that matter, what does it take for you to actually rise above having to suffer the torments of Hell? Does Cleopatra still have to deal with the stinging winds while she's sending other lustful sinners into that tornado?
The city of Dis was in the original poem, and thus was an obvious thing to implement into the game. To get into the other details is pretty futile, as the city is probably only a resting place for the damned and the demons.
From a poetic standpoint, the city walls mark the border between the passive sins (sins resulting from inability to control natural urges) of the first five circles and the active sins (sins resulting from malicious intent) of the last four.
In the beginning of the game, you face enemies covered in hellfire that can only be put out with the cross before they can be attacked with the scythe. But in the rest of the game, hellfire becomes barriers that don't disappear until you kill all of the enemies in a "room". How come you can't just put those barriers out with the cross? It's made of the same fire.
Maybe the barrier is simply too much big for being put out with the cross.
Maybe the cross can only put out fires that a person's on.
Why you keep finding certain specific demons in other circles of hell, like Temptresses in Greed or Gluttonous in Malebolge? Shouldn't they be restricted to a specific area?
Maybe you've been breaking down the barriers that would ordinarily prevent intermingling?
My best guess is that in hell the sinners turn into the demon whose sin they did the most of. Therefore extremely lustful... women? get turned into seductresses and the extremely gluttonous can turned into gluttons. This is used to show what sin they were most guilty of. However to give proper punishment to them (since the punishment gets worse the worse the sin) they are found in the circle of hell that they did their worst in. Thus a prostitute who killed one of her clients would be a seductress but be found in either violence or maybe treachery depending on the circumstance.
Or Lucifer might be messing with you.
Maybe they are chasing you because you destroyed their specific hell?
Reinforcements from the other circles?
Better than the Gluttonous: Unbaptized Babies. You know, it's one thing to consign them to Limbo for something that is not and could not be their fault, but to throw them into the second-worst circle of Hell? What possible fraud could they have committed?
Beatrice chooses to follow Lucifer and eat the evil seeds yet never gets called out for it or suffers any consequences. How does that work?
Who could call her out? The guy trying to save her? The angel? The thing is Beatrice did not have a presence until Purgatory/Paradiso in the original poem where she served as a guide (since Vergil cannot leave Inferno, given that he´s a heretic from the Age of Gods), so she was the obvious weakpoint of the plot.
Dante could never blame her for that. He loves her to the point of waging war against Hell. And he did prove that the real her was under there.
At the end we learn that Dante has been dead the whole time and that by extension the fight with Death never happened. So why does Dante still have his scythe?, the scythe that he used to free Lucifer no less!
I took that to mean Dante's soul was defiant enough to actually fight Death and use the Harvester like any other combat scythe. There's no reason a non-physical entity shouldn't be able to use a weapon Death uses against non-physical entities if he can steal it. That's making assumptions about whether Hell and Death, as constructs, are physical or non-physical, never mind the mind fuck all about what a non-physical thing even is in any context.
I haven't read the original The Divine Comedy, so this may or may not be a problem with that, but... you encounter Pontius Pilate on the way to the boat, and Orpheus within it. But then, in the actual circles, you see several people from Dante's lifetime (including a couple of bosses), along with others from before his lifetime. Shouldn't Pilate and Orpheus have been long since unloaded and sentenced? Is Hell's queuing system really that weird? Did Orpheus just hide in there somehow (even with his constant out-loud retelling of his story), or is his particular punishment to just ride the boat back and forth without actually getting where it goes?
You killed King Minos- the judge of the damned. They never got sentenced because the sentence-giver can't do it anymore, and I doubt Hell has back-up cashiers.
Not until you get to him (after you've already absolved, punished, or ignored Pilate and Orpheus), and even then, that only explains why new arrivals won't be sentenced, not why people dead since the 2nd century at the latest are up there while contemporaries of Dante are down in the circles.
In the poem, there are many people who are outside of Hell proper, and Pilate is implied (though not directly stated) to be one of them. These are people who, for all intents and purposes, weren't good enough for Heaven but not bad enough for Hell. This includes angels who didn't join in rebelling with Satan or confirm their allegiance to God but stayed neutral. Their afterlife is to eternally chase a flag but never catch it.
Much like in Divine Comedy, Lucifer is portrayed just as much of a prisoner as the other damned, held by giant chains found linked all throughout Hell. However, he is also portrayed as Hell's ruler, Virgil claiming that the only reason why Hell is such a Crapsack World is because he wants it to be that way. In the animated film, he is even seen giving orders to the demons. However, he needs to lure a soul into Hell (like Alexander the Great, Lancelot, Attila the Hun and Dante himself) in order to free him. Why does he not command the damned souls already there to free him? What about the hundreds of demons under his command? Can they not do it and he needs a live human to free him?
What makes Dante so special that he could make it that far more so than the others? They imply that it was because Dante's sins were so great that he was meant to go to the ninth circle anyway, but are they saying that this somehow makes Dante worse than Attila the Hun?
Is it because he wields Death's Scythe? If so, did Lancelot and Alexander also kill Death and stole his scythe? How many times has this happened? Is there more than one Grim Reaper wandering about out there? That would explain why more damned souls fall long after Dante kills him when he enters Hell.
To answer all these questions:
Lucifer is the ruler of Hell, but only because he was imprisoned there by God. It's why he only rules Hell and not all of Creation. The other demons would free him, but either can't or won't defy the will of God out of fear for their own existences (especially considering that an agent of God as powerful as Gabriel was able to waltz right into Hell and do as they pleased).
Dante is one of the few damned souls suitable to free Lucifer because unlike most, he has commited every one of the sins of the circles, meaning he has a place in each level of Hell, but he also believed he would be absolved. Attila, Alexander and such could have met the criteria as well, but only Dante had both the badassery and determination to actually reach Lucifer's prison.
Not only did Alexander and Attila not kill the Grim Reaper, neither did Dante. It reveals at the end that Dante was merely Fighting a Shadow, and both the scythe he wields and the being he stole it from are illusionary replicas of the real Grim Reaper. If shown in his entirety, the real Death would be an omnipotent being that far outclasses even Lucifer himself, and exists as an immutable law of the universe, and thus couldn't possibly be killed by a mortal. The reason the cross and the scythe are able to harm Lucifer is because they are imitations of the power of the only two beings greater than him: God and Death.