I just wondered if anyone else noticed they very distinct similarities between the two, and if anyone else thought the overall story may have been inspired by it.
The entire point of The Divine Comedy was that Dante had lost his way and must find redemption by traversing the nine circles of hell and atoning for his sins, and thereby find his salvation. For most of this journey, he is accompanied by Virgil, who says he can help guide him, but the rest he must do himself, which to me, was strikingly similar to one of the phonecalls from The Enginner to Mandus.
The further down Oswald goes into the machine seems to have a distinct connection with the different sins and atrocities he's committed, and there's effetively nine different levels beneath the surface layer, ie. the nine circles of hell. It also seems the further and further he goes, the more foul and terrible things he's done come to the surface, and he therefore begins to remember and start on the path of atonement.
I also noticed that in one of the notes they speak of the center of the earth, which in the Divine Comedy is the greatest distance one can travel from God, and the center of that center is the bottom of Hell. You find several notes discussing how the bottom of the machine is supposed to be kept ice cold and how it is inevitiably the start and the end of the whole process, and how the final product ends up there, to be kept frozen, and I can't help but notice the similarities between that and this from Dante's Inferno,
"To his dark center drain all the waters of the earth, bearing the filthy sediment of all sin and uncleanliness. Satan's six wings beat madly in his efforts to escape from that foul lake but they succed only in whipping up a freezing gale that turns all to ice, fixing him ever more securely in the bottom ice-tray. From the top of Purgatory, moreover, there flow down to him the waters of Lethe, in which the finally purified souls bathe and are washed clean of every memory of sin. That memory, too, is frozen into the filthy ice about Satan. Thus that center is the center of all weight, of all sin, of all darkness and of all cold."
I've read the wiki and plot analysis on AMFP, and I realise that Oswald's soul fractured, but I personally believe that body in the tube you find is actually Mandus' own body, and being that he has become the machine, the good in him also has the ability to effect the machine, and shut down what he could, but I don't think Mandus is still "alive" in the sense that he's actually walking around in the game. I think it was Oswald's purgatory, and like Dante, he is traversing his own hell and atoning for his sins, and at the end I simply think he found redemption and he accepted his sins and rejoined the other half of his soul and returned to his body, and shut the system down. The one thing that doesn't make any sense, especially since he essentially said he put himself in the machine, and there's all those weird notes and annotations about the wires going into his ears and about him essentially laying there grasping at the wires about him when you find the note going on about redeeming himself because he has realized his evil, and if it would be possible to change, why would he need a random body? It's never explained and as far as I can tell the game has no plot holes, so I'm fairly certain that is Mandus himself, not simply a representation of the Engineer, whatever that's supposed to mean.