In this action-adventure game, players control Dante, a veteran soldier of the Crusades, on his journey through the nine Circles of Hell. The game depicts a surrealistic underworld populated by demons, shades, blobs, mythical creatures, historical figures, the undead, and the scythe-wielding "Death." As Dante pursues his beloved Beatrice through Limbo, Lust, Anger, etc., he must battle several creatures along the way.
Players swing their own giant scythe and employ magic—glowing white crosses—to battle the winged, the lost, and the damned. Blood often splatters out of monsters' bodies when attacked; weakened monsters can be finished off with a set of commands leading to tongue-evisceration, but more often, some version of dismemberment. Amidst the sounds of moaning, drowning, crying, and chastising, some bizarre creatures appear (a veritable monster's ball), accentuating the surreal nature of the game: a pestilent Bertha blob spews its anger, sometimes more; a King Kong-sized Cleopatra—demon-like, purplish, topless—reigns over the level Lust; and "unblessed infants" with sharp blades-for-arms zealously attack Dante in dark spaces. These "unbaptized" demons resemble babies only in size, as they tend to hack, slash, scream, and impale/get impaled as often as taller demons. The most intense depictions of violence occur during cutscenes—the tapestry-style animations and the CGI-enhanced cinematics: Templar soldiers cut townspeople in half; a man is decapitated and his head hurtles toward the screen; a man gets stabbed through the eye with his own crucifix; and a soldier impales a woman through the chest by throwing a sword at the fleeing victim—Intense Violence at M.
The game also contains some sexual content and depictions of nudity. During one sequence, a distraught demon-like creature seizes Dante's right hand and slowly guides it across her bare chest; during another, "shade minions" in high heels moan lustfully—in the Lust level—as tentacles protrude from their stomachs, their lower regions. As for the nudity: a tapestry-style (hand-drawn) image of a topless woman embracing a man; the same art-style depicting a slave woman—breasts exposed—lying on the floor with the guilt-ridden; a naked woman on a stone slab levitating in the air (only her breasts are fully defined); the aforementioned topless Cleopatra; and a bluish devil/demon in boss-battle mode—its penis visible during the flying and fire-spewing, the standing around (there are equivalent physics applied to female/male body parts).