TGS 2009: Hands-on with Dante's Inferno in the Land of the Lust

We've talked up Dante's Inferno and its similarities to God of War before -- and not much has changed in that regard in the game's latest build. So, instead of going deep into the gameplay here, we'll focus on the content we saw in the new level, based on the sin of "Lust." It's quite the hellish journey, especially for the folks at the ESRB.

(Just a warning: despite our best efforts, given the subject matter, some of the content described might be considered NSFW. Read on at your own risk.)
From the onset, we found ourselves surrounded by walls decorated in vaginal imagery (must ... resist ... Prey flashbacks). There isn't a better way to put it other than making a veiled reference to Georgia O'Keefe; it's pretty blatant, and two of them actually serve as portals for the level's local minions -- female lost souls whose stomachs open up to reveal a large, unraveling tentacle.

After making quick work of the first handful of enemies (thanks for the help, super-smooth framerate!), we met with the level's first puzzle. It was nothing fancy, and vanquishing it was a matter of moving a statue into the appropriate slot and then hitting various switches. Think of it as a brief nuisance before you trudge to the obligatory boss battle.

Now, promise us you'll try to hold your composure here, because what we're about to describe is likely to make you giggle. Got it? Good. The Lust is a large, topless Cleopatra, referenced briefly in the original text as "Cleopatra the voluptuous." Oh, and she has enemies that spawn from her nipples, portrayed here as tiny mouths with large tongues. Go ahead and read that twice to make sure you didn't misunderstand, we'll wait. The battle itself is pretty interesting, involving a number of crowd fights interspersed with moments where you brave breaths of fire, pull levers and fight to release the fallen Egyptian queen's fingers before she can block the rise of your platform. Overall, it offered enough variety to hold our attention and certainly didn't lull us into a sense of monotony.

A fast-paced and enthralling experience? You betcha, but with what we've said before, that's not surprising. We're not discounting the title's familiar fun -- and, technically, it's very well put together -- but the content itself is trapped in a limbo of trying-too-hard crassness. Would we be so harsh if it was based on original idea, or something other than the classic Italian epic poem? Probably not, to be honest, but the bar was set pretty high when the developers made the conscious decision to claim a strong relation to the source material. If you were hoping for a tasteful interpretation of classic literature or a game that would break new ground in the oft-maligned incorporation of sex in games, sorry, this just isn't it.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.