Name: Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller
Author: Un
Started: May 10, 2008
Genre: Adventure
Description: An occasionally problematic but generally engaging point-and-click adventure game set in the Washington, DC of 2095, where an authoritarian theocratic party controls the government and literally sentences the disobedient to hell.

What the hell is Hell?
Well, see the short description above. Here's a summary of the story, paraphrased from the manual:

Hell occurs one hundred years in the future, and Washington DC is no longer just the nation's capital: it's also the place where hell meets earth. In the midnight hours, lurking amidst the bone-white monuments, hellspawn stalk the streets, looking for sinners to drag back to Hades.

The United States is ruled by a political party, the Hand of God, and its leader, the Imperator Solene Solux. Swept to power by a populace overwhelmed by violence, the seeping control of new technologies, and rampant immorality, the androgynous Solux has lived up to his/her awesome campaign promise: To sit in judgment of sinners and condemn the offenders to Hell. Solux's substitute Bible - the Sententia - has practically replaced the constitution, and the government has become a repressive regime.

New computer technologies, the exploration of cyberspace, artificial intelligence, robotics, medical health enhancers (such as body-morphing surgery and birthing assistance units) and even developments in cyber-entertainment have all been outlawed.

Some of these decisions were rooted in popular demand. The interactive Acti-Deck virtual reality home entertainment system, for example, horrified the populace when it was discovered that the device had gradually altered the users' genetic codes and led to a strain of humans with frightening psionic capabilities.

But the Hand also outlawed free speech, rival political parties, alcohol and drugs, gambling, and a host of other freedoms. This crackdown on liberties has bred widespread discontent. Hiding in the back alleys and the speakeasies of this urban dystopia, underground rebel cells have formed, including the Citizens' Freedom Front.

But opposition is fledgling since people live in constant fear of being condemned to hell's dark fires. The streets of DC are littered with the walking dead who've been there and back, and they can testify to the terrifying nature of the place - if they're able to talk at all, that is. Demons prowl the streets adding to the terror - monsters that resemble humans, horned beasts with pointed tails, and other creatures sprung from fallen angels.

You play the game as either Gideon Eshanti or Rachel Braque. Regardless of which character you choose, both will appear together throughout the game. For Rachel Braque and Gideon Eshanti, the brutal truth about the Hand of God comes in the form of a kicked-in door and singing bullets. Gideon and Rachel are field agents for Artificial Reality Containment (ARC), a division of the Hand's police apparatus. As ARC agents they were responsible for gathering information on illegal technologies. While they aren't armed police officers, they aren't exactly civil servants.

When the Hand of God betrays them, they begin their journey through the streets of Washington, a veering, bone-jarring scramble to learn why they've been targetted by the government they once served.

Your challenge is to learn why the Hand wants Gideon and Rachel dead. Can you solve the mystery before Gideon and Rachel feel the flames of hell?

So there you go. One other notable aspect of Hell is that it made a major selling point of its celebrity voices; it was released in the middle of the big "Siliwood" game/movie convergence hype embarrassment, and features voiceovers by Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones (!), and Geoffrey Holder, and Stephanie Seymour in a minor FMV role.

Why the hell are you playing Hell?
I like it! Hell is kind of an, um, polarizing game; it's widely considered awful for its text-heaviness and chunky mid-90s CG (it looked OK for a computer game in 1994, but the visuals haven't aged well, to say the least). It's certainly super-talky, even for an adventure game; the vast majority of a Hell playthrough will be spent in dialogue trees, some of which are kind of cornball and/or technobabbly. There are also a couple of broken puzzles QA apparently missed, though thankfully, they don't break the game. That said, I have a lot of affection for Hell, which tells a pretty fun story despite its flaws. That, and I appreciate its futurist and anti-Dominionist sympathies.

Anyway! Here's the intro: HASSAN CHOP! (Local Backup)

...And now we'll have to select our main character. This has very little effect on 9/10 of the game; Rachel and Gideon work as a team, and have the same dialogue regardless of who's in charge. However, this choice does have a significant impact on the endgame sequence and ending, so it's not entirely without consequence.

 "Hi! I'm Gideon Eshanti! I have a pretty good voice actor and a big silver wristwatch. Reckonize."

 "Hi! I'm Rachel Braque! I have nice hair and am a lady. Represent."

So, esteemed readership, who's it gonna be?