The evolution of heaven and hell in gaming

Perhaps one of the most notorious games of all time, Thrill Kill was to be a four-player fighting free-for-all among damned souls of the dead, fighting for a chance to return to life as a gift from a demonic goddess of Hell. Sound familiar? Yep, it’s the same basic concept as Fight for Life, but Thrill Kill went to extremes the former wouldn’t even think to touch. Besides the much-ballyhooed four-player combat, Thrill Kill featured some of the most vile, depraved characters to ever grace fighting games combined with ultra-violence and even some sexualized sadism (that had to be toned down at the ESRB’s request to avoid an AO rating).

For a game set in Hell, however, Thrill Kill is a bit different than what you’d expect. Rather than scorched earth and volcanic fire, Hell in Thrill Kill resembles the modern world, only twisted and tattered with blood, graffiti, and other unpleasant imagery. Factories, jail cells, back alleys, even an asylum with padded walls were all present for you to fight to the bloody end in.

Most of us know the story by now: The game was set to be published by Virgin Interactive, who, shortly before release, were bought out by Electronic Arts. EA took one look into Thrill Kill’s abyss and ran away screaming, cancelling the now-finished product with the explanation that they didn’t want to unleash “such a senselessly violent game” upon the public and refusing to license it to anyone else. That didn’t stop near-complete copies of the game’s code from being leaked onto the web and played by the curious, however. This year, EA released the exceptionally grotesque and violent Dante’s Inferno. Times have certainly changed.