“GET YOUR SON BACK” reads the flashing, psychedelic text that opens A Mother’s Inferno.
Developed in six weeks by a group of students at DADIU (pronounced “Daddy-O”), A Mother’s Inferno plays less like a game and more like a psychological horror film (think Jacob’s Ladder). Players take on the role of a mother who loses her son and must “defeat” each stage of grief as personified in demons- e.g. “anger” is a rampaging bull whose heart must be torn out- while traveling through the physics-defying subway carts of a train en route through the underworld.
One subway cart, for example, encapsulates the River Styx, which you must cross on the back of a skeletal ghoul, while another opens into a vast church complete with stained glass windows, rows of pews and a spectrally-occupied pulpit. The game is filled with shocking and horrific visuals, continual deterioration of players’ sensorial output, and an insistent disregard for the lengthy, digestible and “fun” standards of mainstream play.
Instead, A Mother’s Inferno takes about 15-30 minutes to complete and works to unsettle players’ relationships with its narrative and mechanics. Controls in A Mother’s Inferno are wonky at best, which lends itself to the game’s dizzying graphics that flicker and flash with the temperament of a satanic, partially-broken TV set. At the end of the journey, mother is reunited with son. Not that it matters, though; befitting of its public transit setting, A Mother’s Inferno is less about a destination than a journey- one that will totally creep you out.
A Mother’s Inferno is free to play in your browser and for Mac and PC download here.