This week I’m reviewing the worst game I’ve ever played, Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller for the 3DO. I know in the past I’ve said games like The Final Gate and Virtuoso are some of the worst games I’ve ever played but Hell hands down beats ’em all. This game represents everything bad about CD video games in the 90’s. This game is to the 3DO what E.T. is to the Atari 2600, it’s that bad.
Hell was released back in 1994. It was published by Take 2 Interactive and developed by GameTek. GameTek was never a huge developer as they mainly developed video game adaptations of popular TV game shows like Double Dare, Hollywood Squares, and Family Feud. Basically, any popular long running game show you can think of has been adapted into a video game at one point in time by GameTek. However, there is one game in their catalog that stood out, actually, it was the only other game I recognized that wasn’t a game show adaptation, Brutal: Paws of Fury. This was a classic 2-D fighter that had some success on the Super Nintendo back in the day.
GameTek closed its doors for good back in 1998 but as for Hell’s publisher, Take 2 Interactive, things went a little differently. Take 2 is now known for owning a little studio called 2K Games, ring a bell? It should seeing as this studio is responsible for the Borderlands series, the Bioshock series, Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noir, the entire 2K Sports franchise, and many more. Yeah, I’d say Take 2 Interactive has come a very long way from the days of Hell.
Ugh, where to start? Well, this game really isn’t much of a game as it’s classified as a point-and-click adventure game. That means all the player does during the entire game is point at things and click them to interact with them, there’s no real-time game play. This game is actually similar in game play to The Daedalus Encounter minus all the fun. It does sport a huge amount of full motion video and cinematics to watch all in full screen but this is actually a bad thing, I’ll get into that more a little later.
Hell Game Play
This game plays from a third person perspective with all playable characters completely visible on the screen. You control a cursor in the shape of a pitchfork to pick where you want playable characters to walk to. You can use your cursor to pick up and use items, click on characters to interact with them, and to bring up your inventory menu. Each character can carry a certain amount of items including any item an NPC is carrying that may join you along the way. However, if you decide to drop one of the people from your group, they’ll take any useful items they may be holding along with them. You can always have people rejoin your group but you have to go back to where you found them to do it.
Hell has a star studded cast of actors and actresses that either appear in the game or do a voice over for a character in the game. Dennis Hopper, Stephanie Seymour, Grace Jones, and Geoffrey Holder all lend their acting talents to this game. You would figure with a cast like this the game should be able to pull off some level of entertaining game play but no, fuck no. Dennis Hopper, the one guy that I actually wanted to see in this game, only does a voice over. In fact, Stephanie Seymour and Geoffrey Holder are the only two people to actually appear in this game as themselves in the full motion video portions of the game.
So, lets get into the story a little. This game takes place in the year 2095. The United States is ruled by The Hand of God, a theocratic ruling party that controls the gates of Hell. Criminals or enemies of the state are no longer sent to prisons to carry out lengthy sentences. Instead, criminals or “sinners” are sent to Hell. You control one of two characters, Gideon Eshanti or Rachel Braque. You can choose which one you want to play as at the beginning of the game.
Gideon and Rachel both work for the Hand of God as ARC agents or Artificial Reality Containment Agents. They’re responsible for controlling and restricting cybernetic technology and Virtual Reality technology. Gideon and Rachel are also in a romantic relationship with one another. One night, a Scrub Team, the Hand’s version of a SWAT team, are sent to kill Gideon and Rachel. They survive the attack and also kill the entire Scrub team.
The game picks up from there as you point and click the couple around Washington D.C. trying to find out why they’ve been put on a Scrub list. This includes meeting with high level Hand officials, criminals that Gideon and Rachel have arrested in the past but went easy on in order to take advantage of their contacts to the underworld, and a slew of random folks that you can actually have join Gideon and Rachel in their search for answers.
Now it’s time to explain what makes this game so bad, everything. The dialog in this game is terrible, actually, it’s the worst I’ve ever heard. Dialog is stiffly delivered and almost robotic sounding. It sounds like Siri could’ve voiced this entire game. The lines are oozing cheese and moments that try to insert any kind of emotion or humor hit as hard as a child with hands made of cotton balls.
Seriously, this game had to be nothing more than a paycheck for the actors involved, well, except for Dennis Hopper. Dennis channels his classic paranoid anti-government hippy voice to bring life to his character named Mr. Beautiful, a porn producing demon from Hell that lives in our world. Unfortunately, the novelty of hearing Dennis wears off quick as the dialog he spews out is pure garbage.
Dennis Hopper as Mr. Beautiful
This game also inserts random methods of game play from time to time that makes it very confusing to play at some points. Some characters you interact with make you go through a question and answer interaction where you decide what to ask a character in the game by choosing a question from a list displayed at the top of the screen.
This is o.k. as modern games still do this but this game makes you keep track of every piece of information you hear and see. Picking and choosing what to ask someone is pointless in this game if you need to hear everything a character could possibly say. They should just have these characters divulge all of the information they know instead of breaking up the game play with this back and forth Q&A which might lead to a player leaving a character and missing out on important information because they didn’t want to sit and go through all of the pre-programmed questions.
When I say that this game makes you keep track of everything you hear and see I fucking mean you need to pay attention to everything you hear and see. The reason for this is because you may speak with one character and without you knowing it, they may be giving you information that can be used to solve a puzzle or figure out a password later in the game. But because the dialog is so terrible, it’s hard to pick out what might be important and what’s pure crap. Paying attention to what you see is vital as well since there may be a visual clue hidden somewhere on the screen that will help you advance in the game.
This reaches an all-time cheesy low when you need to know a password to get through a door. Written on the door is a warning sign that says “Sentinel Enforced Security Admittance Members Exclusively.” On the warning sign though the letters S,E,S,A,M,E are capitalized. What do you think the password is to open the door? See, shit like this goes on all throughout the game, it’s ridiculous.
Things get even worse as the game actually has a few glitches in it. The dialog in the script doesn’t match up with some of the puzzles in the game. This mistake leads to characters giving you puzzle clues that don’t match up with the puzzle you’re trying to solve. Stuff like this is simply unforgivable in a game that makes you pay close attention to every bit of dialog in order to get puzzle solving clues. Bugs like this show up in puzzles later in the game and makes them impossible to solve unless you look the answers up online. For people playing this game back in 1994, these buggy puzzles are probably where most players quit the game and took the disc out of their 3DO.
Here we go, we’ve reached the core of what makes this game bad. This game tries to show off every graphical advancement in video games that was available in 1994. This game is all about 3D rendered graphics, computer animation, and full motion video and it makes sure to cram as much in as possible. Even though the game features all of this, none of it looks good. It ends up being a mish-mash of poor choppy animation displayed at the lowest possible resolution the 3DO can display.
The poor grainy resolution of the graphics makes it difficult to pick out any sort of details that may be important to the game play. The game does try to help a little by making useable objects look a little brighter than anything else on the screen but they’re so poorly detailed that most times you have no idea what an object is until you pick it up. The overall character animations are so poor that during cutscenes characters are animated doing a loop of the same movement over and over again like a bad .gif image.
Computer animated characters interacting with a live action Stephanie Seymour
The full motion video in Hell is reserved for Stephanie Seymour and Geoffrey Holder. Their characters actually interact with the computer animated main characters in the game. So, you see shiny plastic-like computer animated characters sporting robotic movements talking to real people, it’s weird and confusing to look at. The other computer animated characters that have celebrity voices are made to look like the actors doing the talking. The animation is so bad though that these characters end up looking like caricatures of the real actors. It’s not so bad for Dennis Hopper but as for Grace Jones, it’s down right insulting.
Sound is terrible as well as voices and in game sounds are raspy and hard to understand at times. Voices can range any where from ridiculously quiet to insanely loud so it can be hard to pick up everything a character says at some points. Also, some of the characters have poorly done accents which makes them even harder to understand.
Things don’t get much better as far as music is concerned. There’s a main theme song called “In the depths of Hell” performed by a band called The Heavy Skies. It’s one of the cheesiest generic rock songs I’ve ever heard in a video game. I gotta give the band credit though, they made sure to mention in the instruction manual that a lady named Stacy Dillon provided the moans and sighs for the track, good lookin’ out guys. The rest of the game’s music is generic dramatic 90’s synthesizer music, it’s awful.
Collectibility – Sought After
I have no fucking idea why this game is classified as “Sought after.” For me, it has some collector value to it simply because it’s one of the biggest cluster fuck messes of a game I’ve ever played. On a certain level, one can sit back and appreciate this game for just how terrible it really is. The fact that people like Dennis Hopper and Stephanie Seymour are in it only add to that. I’m gonna go ahead say that if you own a 3DO, you should own this game but only if you own a 3DO so you can experience this games badness.
Average Value – $10 loose, $28 Complete in Box
Rarity – Sought After with a 43% rating on RarityGuide.com
Happy Gaming and Happy Collecting!
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