The era of truly licentious videogame marketing stunts has been waning ever since that time Sony used a dead goat (opens in new tab) to promote God of War 2, but here's at least a mildly risqué performance from Blizzard: The Diablo 4 developer has covered the interior of a French cathedral with depictions of the game's battle with Lilith, Queen of the Succubi.
The cathedral in question is the Chapelle des Jésuites (Jesuits' Chapel) in Cambrai, a Baroque-style 17th-century church in northern France. The building has been deconsecrated, according to Blizzard, meaning it's not officially a sacred site. It is a historical monument, though, so if you're wondering whether Blizzard actually painted "the five character classes from Diablo 4 as they clash with the powers of evil" onto the chapel's interior: It did not. A total of 20 paintings were done on canvas and then installed on the cathedral's ceiling, dome, and back wall.
All together, the works comprise a 160-foot mural and took 30 days to paint, according to Blizzard. They were completed by a team led by artist Adam Miller (opens in new tab), who says the project interested him in part because "the scale and the speed of it seemed a bit insane." Henry Hobson, who directed the video of the art installation embedded above, described the result as a classical space that had been "corrupted" by Miller's depictions of the Diablo universe. (See more about the project in the making-of video below.)
The murals probably don't fit in with the chapel's existing paintings, depictions of the life of Christ by Flemish painter Arnould de Vuez (opens in new tab), but I wouldn't really say that the space has been corrupted, at least not by the demonic content of the artwork. As one example, Jan van Eyck's The Last Judgment (opens in new tab) from the 1440s is way more gruesome than these concept art-like paintings: It features a pile of bodies being perforated and torn apart by demons, and according to The Met, may have served as "the doors to a tabernacle or reliquary shrine."
Still, I imagine that Blizzard would've been crucified if it had mucked about in a French cathedral for Diablo 1 marketing purposes back in the '90s, when the satanic panic had more muscle. (I'm just assuming that "but they're fighting the demons" wouldn't have swayed the moral watchdogs of the time.) Today I suspect any arguments about the stunt would be to do with taste.
There's a weird sweepstakes to go with the paintings: Players who opt-in here (opens in new tab) and reach max level in the Diablo 4 open beta later this month may be selected to have their likeness added to the mural. The prize has "an approximate retail value of Zero US Dollars," say the official rules, but winners will get a photo of Miller painting them into the scene. Yay?
We've liked what we've played of Diablo 4 so far, so whether or not my tortured mug appears in a mural, I'm looking forward to the Diablo 4 beta. There are actually two beta periods this month, a closed beta for pre-orderers from March 17-20, and then an open beta for everyone from March 24-27—more details the Diablo 4 betas can be found here.