Have you ever played a video game that has truly baffled you? Something so utterly bizarre that you’ve had to take a moment and think “What the hell did I just play?”. Maybe it was your first time rolling up humans with a particularly large Katamari, or after exploring the world of Deadly Premonition with the help of special agent Francis York Morgan. Well, I’ve experienced all of these peculiar games and many many more, and none of them have left an impression quite like Mediterranea Inferno.
Mediterranea Inferno tells the story of three boys in their twenties, who have it all. They all come from incredibly wealthy backgrounds, and when out enjoying the nightlife in Italy are worshiped by many as the hottest thing in town. Despite all this, when the COVID pandemic hit all three of them were forced to confront who they really were. After two years apart the boys decide to organise a little summer getaway together to reconnect, and it turns out to be a more eventful holiday than any of them could’ve imagined.
This is mainly due to an unusual character who offers them something called a Fruit of Mirage, which when consumed sends the person who ate it into a Mirage. What’s a Mirage I hear you ask? It’s a sort of dream or trance that gives you some perspective on your life, while also being absolutely bonkers. One Mirage might involve you shopping at a small local market, with items connected to your recently deceased grandfather for sale. Another might be about going to the club, taking loads of drugs, and getting frisky with the boys. These are some of the tamer Mirages, so play at your own risk.
Personally, I don’t think these Mirages sound like something I’d want to partake in, but perhaps what they bring would make it worthwhile. Any of the boys who have consumed four or more Fruit of Mirage by the end of the holiday will ascend to heaven, and especially because they’re all having a bad time at the moment this really appeals to these lost souls. The majority of the gameplay of Mediterranea Inferno is just you choosing who gets to consume these fruits, by picking where the boys go and deciding who you spend your Summer Coins (which are a currency you can only spend on the fruit and inside the Mirages) on.
The three lads all have very different personalities and problems, so picking who you want to have the best summer is tough. Claudio is generally seen as the leader of the trio, born into a powerful family with a father who lived on handouts from his daddy. After spending lockdown with the dad he hates, Claudio is interested in reconnecting with his Italian heritage and following in his grandfather’s footsteps after his recent passing.
Mida on the other hand was rejected by Claudio just before lockdown hit, and because he’s always always been the butt of the group’s jokes has become increasingly resentful of his friends. During lockdown, he became somewhat of a fashion influencer (thanks mainly to the fact he stopped eating and went hard on the drugs) and is ready to shove his success in the other’s faces.
My favourite character of the three though is definitely Andrea, who it would be an understatement to call sexually promiscuous. Within the first minute of the game, an onlooker sneered “I wonder how many dicks he’s sucked tonight already”, but to Andrea, this is a way of life. Andrea was miserable and lonely when in lockdown, and now just wants to be around as many people as possible.
I can’t talk about Mediterranea Inferno without mentioning how deeply and gloriously homoerotic it is. Andrea admittedly is a big part of that, but even without his character, the game flaunts its hot gay aesthetic every chance it gets. Every single time someone bites into a Fruit of Mirage the juice bursts out and pours down their naked body from mouth to crotch, and in the Mirages you’ll be greeted by loads of at least half-naked characters and a whole lot of sensual tongues. This game is full to bursting with themes of sexuality and gender, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There are also plenty of darker moments in the game too, including some outright horror. Because Mirages are very much dreamlike they are full of some seriously freaky imagery, and there were even a few times where I was actively jump scared by something monstrous. The unusual yet beautiful art style definitely helps with this, which manages to make almost every still image of the game look slightly off.
As much as I enjoyed my time with Mediterranea Inferno, it definitely won’t be a game for everyone. Some of the darker themes of drug use, sexual assault, and depression just won’t appeal to the masses, and if that’s not something you feel you’re able to deal with then this is a game you should absolutely skip. The trigger warnings in game and on the Steam page are there for a reason, and I’m glad they are.
Mediterranea Inferno is a game that baffled me as much as it delighted me. It’s willing to tackle issues I wasn’t expecting, it’s packed full of weird and wonderful imagery, and it’s possibly the most aggressively and gloriously gay game I’ve ever played. It definitely won’t be for everyone, but if you like to get weird and don’t mind dealing with the darker elements then boy are you in for a trip.
Weird, wonderful and surprising from start to finish
Deals with some seriously tough themes
Homoerotic and proud of it
The art style is fascinating, and perfect for the horror moments
The darker themes will not be something everyone wants to experience
Will be too bonkers for some