Babies with blades for arms. Demons wearing high heels. Ants pouring out of the nipple of a breast three stories tall. Given that the game’s an interactive tour of hell, it’s no surprise Dante’s Inferno is chock full of disturbing imagery, but it is surprising that spending the past six years dreaming up images that would make Clive Barker blush didn’t take a psychological toll on the team.
“I can’t speak for everybody on the team, but for me it did not. I’m not sure why. Maybe it should have, but I was definitely able to separate the fantasy from reality,” executive producer and creative director Jonathan Knight said during our roundtable interview. “Certain kinds of horror where it’s very real and very close to home, dealing with real people in a contemporary setting, can be more disturbing. Whereas we set out from the beginning to do kind of a medieval period piece where you go into a very fantastical vision of the afterlife. I think there’s a certain emotional distance created when it’s so clearly a fantasy.
“I didn’t want to make a game that was disturbing to play. I want people to be entertained,” he continued. “Granted, not everybody’s going to be entertained by a fantasy that’s this dark, but I do think there’s a big audience of mature adult gamers who want that dark fantasy because it’s something that they’re not going to experience in real life. We want to go there with them, to give that to them, but not in a way that is going to give them nightmares.”
Try telling that to all the preggo women out there with a sexual fetish for swords – the three of them haven’t slept in days.