I’m not sure if it’s because of our own morbid curiosity with death or because a world of fire and brimstone sounds supremely badass, but over the years hell has become an incredibly popular destination for video games. Thankfully, this destination is only getting hotter (sorry) over the coming months. Doom 4 is almost definitely going to be revealed at QuakeCon in August, or possibly at E3 in June and Diablo III is finally coming to take me away from my friends and job in just a few short weeks. As a gamer, I’ve been to hell more times than Kratos sand Dante combined and I’ve managed to escape those festering pits mostly unscathed. From the nine circles in Dante’s Inferno to Silent Hill’s Otherworld, here are my ten favorite trips to hell so far.
13. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2
I’ve only played one of the Tony Hawk games and the entirety of my time with that game was spent in a single level. That level was the hell track in Underground 2, where you get to do totally normal things like skate on a ribcage and on top of a lake of fire. That game taught me two things: the first was that I’m awful at these types of games and shouldn’t be allowed to play them, and the second lesson learned was that few things are as satisfying as skateboarding right into the devil’s mouth. This certainly isn’t the most imaginative version of hell I’ve seen, but it’s strange and in case you haven’t noticed this already, I like strange.
12. Hellgate: London
What do you get when you have part of the team behind the insanely addictive dungeon crawling Diablo franchise and put them to work on another horror game set in the modern day with RPG elements, co-op and a little FPS tossed in? A pretty fucking boring game, actually. In the past I’ve talked about how badly Alone in the Dark burned me, but Hellgate: London might’ve actually hurt worse. One thing its developer did right was give us an incredibly brutal look at what the world would look like if it were suddenly flooded by the forces of hell.
Doom still has some of the creepiest monsters I’ve ever seen. Those screaming flying baby things in Doom 3? Yeah, those almost made me want to give up on the genre altogether so I could play something a little less shit-my-pants scary. Doom does something all horror games should do and that’s focus on sound and atmosphere over everything else. I don’t care about that glaring plot hole or the guy with the weird face if I can hear the pitter patter of clawed feet against a metal floor as the shadow of some twisted monstrosity slowly creeps up behind him.
10. God of War
Poor Kratos has had to hack and slash his way out of hell more than any bloodthirsty psycho should, but it seems like every time he fights his way through hell his badass factor goes through the roof. If anyone can go to hell and back and still have more dangerous adventures than that in the same game, that would be Kratos.
9. The Darkness II
In The Darkness II, Jackie Estacado plunges into hell to save his dead girlfriend Jenny. I loved the shit out of this game because it had the same strong characters and story that made me fall in love with the original game and on top of that was a stunning graphic noir art style and quad-wielding. Oh and hell was cool too.
8. Devil May Cry
In the first three Devil May Cry games Dante has to travel to the Demon World to do what he does best, and that’s kick tons of demonic ass as stylishly as possible. Out of all the hells on this list, this is one I only barely made it out of. Hot damn those games were tough.
7. Max Payne
The hell in Max Payne isn’t the obvious, fiery pits and demons variety–Max’s hell comes in the form of recurring nightmares about his dark past, including his dead wife and child. It’s his own personal hell and in the end I really prefer that because where the classic fiery hell tries to be universally terrifying, a hell that’s tailored just to really fuck with you is exponentially more unsettling.
Siren is a lot like Silent Hill, just replace the foggy resort town with a creepy mountain village filled with xenophobic villagers who either want to sacrifice you to their demon god or stab you in the face with a pitchfork. The original is one of the creepiest games I’ve ever played and while a majority of that fear was caused by the terrifying way the villagers liked to sneak up on you at any given time–usually right when you’re looking through their eyes so you can experience that hair-raising moment where you realize you’re looking through the eyes of the monster that’s slowly creepining up on you–the rest of that fear came from the environment. The village and its inhabitants have been trapped a hellish version of itself where the only escape is to die horribly. Or I suppose you could just turn off the console, but that’s the easy way out.
If you haven’t had the chance to check out the phenomenon that is Minecraft then it seems you and I are the only ones who haven’t played it. Fortunately for us, the game’s coming out on XBLA next month so we’ll finally be able to build shit and visit The Nether, or Minecraft’s answer to hell. What makes this particular version of hell even more interesting is you have to create the portal to enter it and when you do you’re greeted by zombified pigs and flame tossing… things. Just make sure you’re not carrying anything of value with you when you’re there or you’ll probably lose it when you get mugged, raped and murdered by a blocky pig demon.
4. Dante’s Inferno
Dante’s Inferno didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but that fault lies with developer Visceral Games. You can’t make something as scrotum-pinchingly amazing as Dead Space, then follow it up with something like Dante’s Inferno. Seriously, if Dead Space had a mouth, I’d stick my [CENSORED] in it and swish it around like I hear grownups do with eachother sometimes. Even though I didn’t love it, Visceral did two things exceptionally well with it: their interpretation of the nine rings of hell was clever and gruesome, and Lucifer’s massive throbbing demon cock was a wondrous sight to behold.
3. Shadows of the Damned
It’s no secret I love me some Garcia Hotspur. How many games let you dive into hell so you can use your Hot Boner to save your girlfriend from a demon with a phallically-shaped head? Not enough, I say. Shadows of the Damned has one of the most unusual and colorful hells I’ve ever seen. It’s also a quirky, hilarious, and often bizarre game filled with blood, gore, and sex. In other words, it has everything I look for in a video game.
I will never forget walking into that seeimingly harmless room in the dungeons beneath Tristram. I had just kicked some Carver ass and decided to check out this room before I tossed down my town portal so I could unload my sweet loot back in town. I didn’t expect much, maybe a bookshelf or a shrine. If I was lucky I might see something of value, but my hopes were low. Immediately upon opening that door to what I would soon realize was the Butcher’s Lair, I was greeted by a room littered with butchered corpses. The bodies that weren’t scattered about the floor were mounted on pikes, Vlad the Impaler style, and this scene of pure terror took place long before I ever made it to hell. Sure, I’ve probably beat the Big D’s scaly ass a couple dozen times over the years, but the terrors that I encountered along the way are memories I won’t soon forget.
1. Silent Hill
Some of you might be wondering why I’m giving Silent Hill top billing in a list full of hell-centric games. If you think about it, that foggy town is actually one of the coolest interpretations of hell ever. In it, the foggy town is limbo and the Otherworld you slip in and out of is hell. In Silent Hill you’re trapped inside your own private purgatory, brimming with twisted creatures that are the physical manifestations of your subconsious. I love what series composer Akira Yamaoka did with his work on the soundtracks, because he actually composed two wildly different styles for the fog world and the Otherworld. When you’re out in the town it’s atmosphericand eerie, but as soon as you’re thrown into the Otherworld the music transforms into a hellish, violent version of itself.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below what your favorite trip to hell has been and what made it so memorable!