Top 10 Horrifying Hells in Gaming

TIME :2022-07-03

Whether we’re just obsessed with death or because a world of fire and brimstone sounds supremely badass, you can’t find a hotter destination than hell. We’re talking bloodthirsty demons and unending torment bad here – and that’s really, really bad. Although you probably don't wanna go there for real because of, well, eternal damnation and all, it sure makes for one hell of a game.

“What’s so bad about hell, really?” you say. I’ll tell you, or better yet, I’ll show you. Think earth sucks sometimes? Imagine living it in these festering pits of despair. Abandon all hope, ye who read this feature. For these are the hells no mortal dares speak of, may they have mercy on your soul.


Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Lair

Mortal Kombat’s “Hell” pulls out all the evil stops. Decked out with lava pits and glowing skull pillars, MK11‘s version of the level almost makes a checklist of all things hellish and checks it twice; it’s even got a fire-breathing dragon in the foreground. The only thing that could make it worse would be if there were hands reaching out from under the ground ready to ensnare you...and it has that too. 

Add that to an eternity of getting beaten up by people you hardly know and you have a great afterlife to look forward to. It’s like living your first day of high school forever, only these swirlies melt your whole head.

Super Meat Boy: Chapter 4

The most clear-cut “fire-and-brimstone” hell by any definition of the term, Super Meat Boy’s fourth chapter, “Hell,” outdoes itself in just about every hellish way imaginable. Magma. Chainsaws. Little black monsters that explode. At the center of all of them is death incarnate, Little Horn, a nightmarish reminder of every life you ever lost – which is probably about 2.9 bazillion by then. All Meat Boy wants to do is save his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the clutches of Dr. Fetus, risking life and limb to do it – and usually losing both in the process. Talk about the things people do for love.


Tony Hawk’s Underground 2: Hell

Say, have you ever danced with the devil under a disco ball? In Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, you can. To get to Pro Skater, you have to pull off the usual amount of sick tricks, but the sickest see you turning up the heat in the game’s own little skate park from hell – literally. If you want to see the big man downstairs, you have to lip tricks two small bones, sticker slap two towers and, to top it all of, skate right into Satan’s mouth and back out again like last night’s lasagna.

In it, you find a roomy hallway with imps running around – for an autograph, I assume. Inside it, there’s a swank bachelor’s pad where you can get down and get funky with lounge lizard Satan himself, because he’s cool like that. Sick, bro!


Silent Hill: The Descent


Silent Hill’s never been for the faint of heart, but Silent Hill: Homecoming’s Descent it’s own kind of messed up. You play as Alex Shephard, a guy with your own share of baggage as you descend into the twisted subconscious of one Dr. Martin Fitch, a grade A nutcase with a certain set of daddy issues. The Descent’s like walking through a hybrid that kid-eating furnace from Home Alone and a creepy mental hospital, minus you doing your best Macaulay Culkin smirk at the end. The deeper you go, the more you learn about just how the two of you share – all the same guilt included. The very worst hells of our own design and after the final boss fight, you’ll probably want to see a therapist afterwards.


Doom 64: Hell


Doom might still has some of the scariest monsters you’ve ever seen. How scary? It was so scary that Doom developer id Software had the guts to name the studio’s latest game engine “id Tech 666.” Doom does something all horror games should do and that’s focus on sound and atmosphere over everything else, screaming flying baby things and all. 

You probably don’t care about the guys with the weird faces if you can hear the pitter patter of clawed feet against a metal floor as the shadow of some monstrosity creeps up behind him. Those almost made you want to give up on the genre altogether so you could play something a little less sh*t-my-pants scary. I know I don’t need to say it, but you’re pretty much doomed.


Minecraft: The Nether


They say the road to hell’s paved with good intentions, but surprise, surprise, it’s a mighty hot one for Minecraft. In the hellish purgatory known simply as The Nether, everything’s scaled down by a ratio of 8:1 above ground, meaning that traveling one block in the Nether means traveling eight blocks in the Overworld. Taking a quick shortcut through the Nether could mean saving you travel time, but boy does it come with a price.

In The Nether, everything’s a nightmare of reality. Trees wilt, compasses fail, explosions are more explosive, lava flows faster – twice as fast, actually – and dumping water buckets on them will just leave you with steam an empty bucket. Try to take a nap and your bed bursts into flame right beneath you. Oh, and the pigmen are right behind you. That’s it, you’re taking the bus next time.


Dante’s Inferno


The very worst hells are the ones of our own choosing and Dante’s Inferno is pretty much the original hell in all but name. You’re Dante, a Crusader in the Middle Ages, and you just killed a lot of innocent people. Your sentence? To hunt down all of Satan’s BFFs all with rock-hard abs and a styling cross tattoo to atone for all your sins. Lust, gluttony, greed, anger – yep, it looks like the gang’s all here for a psychotherapy from, well, hell, and it’s just you, your scythe, and nine demon-spawn to play Twister to reunite with your love, Beatrice. 

Maybe you get a good word put in for you in the afterlife, or maybe you suffer in forever. Damned if you do, really damned if you don’t, as the case may be, but what the hell? You might as well try. You can’t sink any lower, right?


Diablo III Inferno Mode

All the sleepless nights and the obscene amounts of caffeine couldn’t prepare you for the all-consuming hell of Diablo III’s Inferno mode. The fiery flames lapping against your computer screen can barely compete with the hellish reality of muscling your way to Bastion cranked up on the highest difficulty. The lowest monster level is 61 (61!) – 1 level higher than your own level 60-cap. Monsters increase with 1 level for every act. You hear that? That’s the sound of your life ticking away – damn it, you can’t even Life Steal over 20 percent. There’s probably no life and no sleep for you for tonight.


Hell’s Kitchen

Idle hands may be the devil’s playthings, but in Hell’s Kitchen, there’s no rest for wickedly terrible cooks. Here, the devil takes the form of Chef Gordon Ramsay, belittling every one of your attempts to produce fine dining under impossible deadlines. You burn yourself cooking risotto and – oh god, you might just have burnt the Beef Wellington. Hear that? That’s the sound of your spring quiche burning – but what about that damn lasagna?!

Cook something half-decent and the flames of your damnation might lower a little with some sort of menial complement or exasperated sigh. Wait – what was that? Oh, dear lord, you forgot the parmesan! You sob as your picture is set ablaze in humiliation with those poor fools’ that came before. You came, you cooked, you failed. May your soul be another ratings booster for broadcast television.


World of Warcraft: Molten Core

Anyone who played World of Warcraft back in the day remembers its first major raid destination: the Molten Core. Buried deep in the hellish innards of Azeroth, WoW’s hellish hotspot was created by Thaurissan, leader of the Dark Iron Dwarves, during the War of the Three Hammers more than 300 years ago. Banking on a demonic super-weapon to turn the tides against the Bronzebeard and Wildhammer clans, he summoned the Firelord, Ragnaros, from his thousand-year imprisonment under the Redridge Mountains. Think The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, only way, way shorter. 

Of course, Ragnaros destroys Thaurissan City (named after yours truly), creating Blackrock Mountain as a place to stash all his elemental servants and enslaved Dark Iron dwarves. Add that to the burning lake of his that transports evil fire elementals into the world and the Molten Core’s a glorified sweatshop and a demonic commuter bus all in one. Bright idea, Thaurissan.