I think we can all agree that Hell, despite being toastier than Barbados during peak season, really isn't all that appealing. And to be fair, after trudging through more circles than I can dare to count, I can honestly say that I'm not overly keen on the idea of punching a one-way ticket anytime soon, either. Thanks to video games, I too have trespassed into the Devil's kingdom and lived to tell the tale. I've toured the darkest depths, and I've pulled a double-barreled shotgun on one of Satan's minions. I've conquered Hell, as have you, I imagine.
The fact is, developers love to interpret things — especially Hell. Whether its embedded deep within Norse mythology or torn straight from the Bible, Hell has always managed to stoop into our stories. And, of course, some versions of it have managed to leave a marker a little redder than others. But which of the many branded us scarlet? Well, let's break it down. Here are, in our opinion, five of the scariest interpretations of Hell in video games.
5. Shadows of the Damned
While Shadows of the Damned failed to tap into a story-heavy plot, it did manage to create one of the most disturbing versions of Hell in a long, long time, complete with all the crying babies and exploding eyeballs one could ever imagine in a video game. And although a lot of its gameplay made the effort to cram in lashings of humor to help drive the narrative, it was actually a pretty chilling world to shovel through.
Playing as Garcia, the notorious demon hunter with a thirst for bloodshed, your goal is to venture deep into the darkest pits of Hell to find your dearly beloved. Along the way, however, you'll have to fend off Satan's finest recruits and absorb its waves of unorthodox puzzles. Do so, and you might just find yourself at the Devil's doorstep, ready to dust off your boots and invite yourself into a well-deserved warming embrace.
4. God of War
God of War is famous for its horrifying settings, as is its raw combat and unbelievably intense soundtrack. But there's a reason why we keep coming back to it — and it isn't to rinse and repeat all the gory boss battles, funnily enough. It's because of the chilling ambience that the game radiates to absolute perfection. It's the haunting screams and the bottomless pits that reel us in without even having to nudge us in the right direction.
Although 2018's reboot of God of War saw in the likes of Helheim, nothing quite captivated us as much as the original Underworld that plagued the original trilogy. It was Santa Monica Studio working to their fullest extent, putting all of their skills into one basket to help develop one of the most iconic portrayals of Hell known to the industry. I mean, what more can I say? Nailed it, would be the better phrase.
3. Dante's Inferno
It goes without saying that Dante's Inferno, being solely based in the seven circles of Hell, is supposed to be on this list. And even if it wasn't on this list in particular, then it would find its way onto something else entirely. Something, like, biggest God of War rip-offs known to the video game industry, no doubt.
On top of its fast-paced and gore-heavy combat, Dante's Inferno featured one of the most memorable versions of Hell we have ever encountered. Compiling the seven deadly sins into seven hazardous circles, all complete with bloodthirsty monsters and fleeting souls, its bite-sized but bombastic story had us booting down doors and going one-on-one with the Devil's advocate. And let me tell you, after escaping its shadowy depths and returning to reality, our mindset on morality definitely shifted a few gears.
2. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Of all the times I've tiptoed through Helheim in search of a loved one, I have to say, accompanying Senua and all her inner demons in Hellblade was one of the most memorable of the bunch. Terrifying, yes — but oh so captivating and heart-wrenching at the same time. And with a pair of headphones to boot, it ended up being one of the most traumatic yet oddly satisfying journeys I've even embarked on.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, similar to Shadows of the Damned, follows Senua, a warrior on a desperate quest to resurrect her lost love. By traveling through the shallow waters of Helheim and plunging into its deepest depths, the warrior must face some of the worst obstacles to ever exist in the underworld in order to confront her darkest demons. Think Lollipop Chainsaw, but with much, much darker tones and a whole lot of psychological horror. Add a heavy dose of eerie passages and an ensemble of roaming whispers, and you've got yourself the basic premise of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.
With the number of tours the beloved Doomguy has made through the Hellish landscapes of the DOOM network over the years, you would've thought the veteran would be rocking on a veranda with a Bloody Mary somewhere right about now, retired and at peace with his blood-soaked portfolio. But turns out, the guy kind of enjoys working overtime.
Hell on Earth has played a pretty big part in the DOOM franchise, along with Mars, the moons and all sorts of other otherworldly locations. But as far as its primary focus goes, Hell makes up for most of the series' settings, and we're all for that. It's vibrant and energetic, monstrous and oh so riveting. It's partly the reason why we love DOOM and all its bullet-riddled carnage.
So, what's your take? Did we miss any games on this list? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.