Someone should make a game about: the Chinese underworld

As a Chinese kid growing up in Singapore, visiting Haw Par Villa – a cultural theme park and national treasure – is a rite of passage, both anticipated and feared, because of its infamously graphic dioramas depicting Diyu, or the Chinese underworld. Built in 1937 by the founder of Tiger Balm, Aw Boon Haw, the park celebrates Chinese mythology in all its gory glory. Its crown attraction – The Ten Courts of Hell – lay out a dramatic timeline of judgment, penance, and redemption through its aging statuary.

Diyu is bloody. It’s weird. It’s got clear performance metrics, and a coveted outcome: positive reincarnation. If you mess up, you’ll probably end up as a cockroach. In short, it lends itself perfectly to a video game.

Like most cultural representations of hell, Diyu is not a fun place. Depending on just how good or bad you’ve been in your lifetime, you undergo various “treatments” (spoiler: mostly torture) and perform different tasks before reincarnation even happens. Level design would be fun, too – the whole thing is an enormous maze made up of different circles or courts that escalate by crime and punishment.

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