Hell is Heaven's polar opposite. The home of evil incarnate. Though many games have sent players to many different versions of Hell, Hell itself has generally fallen into one of two categories. The first type of Hell is the fiery, subterranean Hell made famous chiefly by modern Christian and western culture. The second type of Hell involves the perversion of the mortal plane from its natural state into a Hell on Earth. The use of Hell tends to be closely tied to a game's use of demons and holy objects or crusades.
After several games based on George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead brought Hell to players, Doom became the franchise that took players to the Pit in 3-D. The wildly popular Doom and its myriad expansions and sequels remained the most popular portal to Hell until 1997 when Blizzard released Diablo. The Diablo franchise set the bar for Hell in video games with its sparse use of light and genuinely spooky cinematics and voice acting.
Today, Hell remains just as pervasive in video games. Painkiller has taken up the reigns once held by Doom, offering a gore-filled Hell to players and a has a serious professional following in gaming. Anyone who played World of Warcraft during its younger days remembers its first major raid destination, the Molten Core, which brought players down into the demon-infested and extremely hot innards of Azeroth.
There are many different types of hell that are currently used in videogames but most of them are based either on the Hell portrayed in Christian books, media, and art or in some sort of weird Japanese interpretation of Hell.
Types of Hell
In purgatory-style Hell, things do not move. Everything tends to be gray and static, as in a town possessed by spirits. Demons and monsters may still be abundant, but they are not out in the open as much and gameplay shies away from large, open encounters. Games that use this type of hell are the Silent Hill series, and Siren: Blood Curse.
This type of hell is the fire and brimstone one, plagued with demons, succubi, minotaurs and other mythological creatures. The player generally rips apart all the demons in front of him. These hells tend to have a huge Archdemon type of boss at the end that runs things. Games that use this type of hell are those in the Diablo and Doom series.
This hell is one where instead of lots of fire, there's lot of ice. Cold and desolate but filled with demons its very similar to a hot hell. This was the most popular depiction of Hell prior to the renaissance.
Mirror/Parallel dimension hell
Hell is exactly the same as earth except its completely corrupted and filled with Demons that enjoy torturing souls. This type of hell is shown in the game and movie Constantine.
It's Hell, but it's filled with cute demons who are very nice looking and tend to have human personalities. They can still be sadistic, murdering creatures but it's all taken in a lighthearted way. The Disgaea series is an example of this.
Hell on Earth (includes Zombie Hell)
In these games hell is not normally shown, because humanity has lost the war against the demons/aliens/zombies and everything's destroyed! In these types of games, aberrations that are not natural to Earth plague the entire planet. Very similar to hot hell in the amount of demon killing the player does, but more similar to a purgatory-style hell in ambiance. A game that uses this type of hell would be Hellgate: London.
Demons and other beings that live in it are just like humans and enjoy living the high life. In this type of hell there are generally some rock concerts going on, or the devil is a cool and suave guy. Think Guitar Hero III's final stage.
Hades is generally portrayed in popular culture as the head of the "Greek Hell" and acts as a figure similar to Satan, in an antagonistic fashion against Zeus. However this is a gross misinterpretation of his original persona. So instead of being related to minerals and spirits like he used to be, he tends to be portrayed as a fiery being bent on mischief and revenge, similar to the way he is portrayed in the new version of Clash of the Titans.
Il Inferno de Dante (Dante's Inferno)
Dante Ahglieri was an Italian that wrote The Divine Comedy in the fourteenth century. He divided Hell in nine circles, which the main character, Dante, traversed with different guides who showed him the way through it. This is was supposedly "adapted" with broad liberties into the game Dante's Inferno. Actually the version of hell portrayed in the game is very similar in structure to the classical one, they have just added a bit more menace in the way of enemies and completely lost the point of the original Play' message and meaning. This hell structure is portrayed in similar or identical fashion in other games, for example the D&D world's Avernus.
The First Circle of Hell is Limbo, where the unwillful sinners are. Basically all the pagans that did not know of God, live here, there is Socrates, Homer, Virgil and Saladin amongst others. Without baptism they live in a deficient form of heaven, where there are some flowers and green fields, as well as a white castle. Minos resides at the end of this circle, and as the first judge of Hell separates the levels in which the damned shall go to, by the amount of times he circles them with his tail.
The second circle of Hell is for those who committed the sin of lust. Figures of men and women are swept away by the winds, being a symbol of unwinded and needless passions.
The third circle of Hell is for gluttons. Here they are forced to lie in a slush made up of freezing rain, black snow, and hail. This is as punishment for the garbage they made on Earth when consuming all of their food.
The fourth circle of Hell is for the avaricious and the slanderers of wealth. The avaricious are forced to push massive stones towards the center of the circle and the slanderers are force to hoard them up against the wall, in an antithetical or ironic punishment.
The wrathful and the lazy inhabit this circle, which has the river Styx run through it. In the surface of the waters the wrathful fight for all eternity while the lazy gurgle in the bottom. In order to go lower into Hell Dante must cross the city Dis (of the damned) which is guarded by fallen angels.
Heretics and atheists lie in tombs in this level. Heretics are buried alive for eternity, while atheists are simply dead.
The Minotaur guards the entrance to the seventh Circle and this circle is reserved for the violent. It has three rings.
- Outer Ring: Houses those that were violent to others' property, they are dipped in a river of boiling blood, according to their sins, and have arrows fired at them from Centaurs if they attempt to leave.
- Middle Ring: Houses the suicides, who live in eternal pain as thorny trees. Those that took the means through which life was sustained (in modern terms, those that commit euthanasia) are forever chased by vicious dogs in this circle as well.
- Inner Ring: Houses the blasphemers (they are considered violent against God), the sodomites (homosexuals), and the usurers (those that lend money, it was considered a mortal sin to do so in the middle ages). They are forever in a desert filled with fiery sand while fire flakes rain from the sky.
This circle houses the dishonest. Malebolge is its name (evil pockets/ditches). People are thrown into the different holes according to their sins. The following are the different holes:
- Pimps and Seducers
- Flatterers (ass kissers) are steeped in excrement
- Those who committed simonies (priests and popes who gave salvation in exchange of money)
- Sorcerers and False Prophets
- Corrupt politicians
- Fraudulent Advisors
- Sowers of discord amongst men (war mongers and such)
- Falsifiers (alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers, etc.)
The last circle of hell is guarded by giants. This circle is reserved for traitors; they are encased in an eternal lake of ice called Cocytus. The sinners here are divided amongst their actions, the first:
- Those that reside in Caina. Named after Cain, this round is reserved for those who betrayed their kin and are buried in the ice up to their necks.
- Those that reside in Antenora. This round is reserved for those who betrayed political party or city, and are buried even deeper and cannot move their necks.
- Those that reside in Ptolemeica. This round is reserved for those who betray their guests. They are buried half of their face in and when they cry their tears freeze their eyes and shut them together. They are not allowed the comfort of tears.
- Last is Judecca. Named after Judas Iscariot, those that reside here are completely encased in ice, and contorted in inconceivable positions.
- In the center there is Satan, with three heads, each chewing on a prominent sinner, and forever encased waist down in ice. He tries to set himself free with his wings but the wind he creates is ever colder and prevents the lake from unfreezing.
- Hell is actually a real place in Norway, and there is a highway going through it. So you can totally say "I'm on a highway to hell". It is also a town in Michigan. The town's website is http://www.hell2u.com/
- Before the Renaissance, Hell was always depicted as being cold, not hot in Western (Christian) culture. As the christian god was considered the "light of the world", then the place most devoid of light (coldest) was considered to be hell and where Satan lived, depictions of Satan also tend to be blue. Also Smurfs are blue too. Could Papa Smurf be Satan?
- According to Dante, Odysseus of Homer's the Odyssey is totally roasting in Hell.