Description: You play a young man stripped of his identity. You can't remember who you are or where you came from. You awaken to find yourself a captive of some strange, sinister people. They are members of Inferno, a notorious underworld organization whose scope you cannot even begin to fathom. They ask you to choose your fate: to be trained as an assassin, or to be executed immediately. Backed into a corner, you choose to live... but will you survive?
Review: With its intricate plot and intense characters, playing Phantom of Inferno was a lot like reading a page-turning manga or watching an exciting anime -- except that you are directly involved with the story flow..
Phantom of Inferno is about a nameless young man whose memory is erased so that he can become a highly effective assassin. You play the young man, and as you go along, you are able to gather bits and pieces about your true self until you eventually regain your identity. Of course, since this is still a bishoujo game, you are also supposed to pick a female partner who will become your love interest. There are four ladies available for romance: Ein/Elen, your enigmatic fellow assassin and trainer; Claudia, one of Inferno's higher-ups; Cal, a young street urchin; and Mio, a yakuza boss' sister.
Phantom of Inferno does not in any way resemble your typical dating simulation. You don't just choose a girl and win. You have to navigate yourself through mission after mission. The way you think, react, and respond to the situations will determine how you'll end up. I went through two tragic endings before I finally ended up with Ein and unlocked her true tale. I don't regret making the mistakes I did though because the wrong paths still felt a lot like complete stories in themselves. It's not like you make a wrong choice and it's game over. You go through all the motions as if you're completing the game except that everything concludes negatively. After the credits roll in each girl's path, you are given two letters. When you put all the ending letters together you get a special password which unlocks a few bonus features, specifically a bunch of game trailers, movie scenes, and soundtrack options.
Being a DVD game though, Phantom of Inferno is plagued by a few problems. For one thing, you can't just save the game whenever you want to. You have to wait for the password to appear and then jot it down in order to be able to return to that certain part. Another extremely frustrating thing was the lack of a proper skip option. Since I had to get all the girls' endings, I had to replay a lot of parts I already read/watched. I did high-speed fast-forwards on my PC's DVD software to make the ordeal less tedious. Problem was, doing that sometimes made the game hang. When that happened, the DVD software would freeze up and I'd close the program via pressing ctrl-alt-del. Then it was back to square one. I had to replay everything again from the last password. What I ended up doing was leaving the game to run during the previously played parts and then going off to do something else like eat or watch TV.
Visually speaking, Phantom of Inferno is great. Each character is attractive and sported his/her own unique look. This is one of those rare games where you actually get to see the character you play up close and in full body. Some scenes are animated as well, particularly driving and shooting scenes. There is some slight nudity and mature themes but no outright sex scene is ever shown. Original Japanese voices have been retained, and the game is voiced throughout. If it's not the characters talking, it's the main character narrating what's written on the text screen.
Tedious replaying aside, Phantom of Inferno is overall an excellent game. If you're into heavy plot-based games, this is one to pick up.
Miscellanies: Unfortunately, there is no CG gallery.