In the game, these ditches manifest as a series of trials - each ditch appears as an arena, and Dante must clear all enemies while using a specific combat style or completing specific challenges. Not sticking to the game style required, or failing to complete the challenge given, results in failure of the trial. Consequently, the arena will then collapse into the pit below, taking Dante with it.
Bonus challenges are given at the start of the trials, and if these bonuses are completed, a large amount of souls is awarded.
Panderers and Seducers Edit
The first ditch of the Malebolge contains the panderers and seducers. Those punished here influenced others to commit sin for their own gain. Their punishment is to march around the edge of the circle, being whipped by horned demons to keep them moving, the way they drove others in life with their seductive ways.
Dante is given infinite mana in this ditch, and is told to kill all enemies using magic, though scythe and cross attacks are allowed. The bonus is to complete the trial in under 75 seconds.
The second ditch contains the flatterers. Those punished here are those who, like the panderers and seducers, convinced others to sin for their own gain, this time using words. They are immersed forever in a river of human excrement, which represents the words they produced. Among those found here is Thais the Harlot, who teased and seduced hundreds of men with her beauty.
In this ditch Dante is required to get a 100-hit combo before he can pass the trial. The bonus is to complete the trial in under 30 seconds.
The third level of the Malebolge contains the Simonists (sinners guilty of selling positions within the church hierarchy and religious property for personal gain). This group of sinners is named after Simon Magus, a sorcerer who attempted to first "buy" the Holy Spirit from St. Peter, then tried to challenge the saint with his magic, which ultimately led to Simon Magus's death. They are punished by being forced upside down into baptismal fonts and having their feet set aflame; a corruption of baptism itself, as the Simonists themselves corrupted the church. The heat of the flames burns according to the guilt of the sinner. When another soul is sent to this level of the Malebolge, it takes the place of one of the others. The one it replaced disappears forever, shoved further down into the font to suffocate. Found here are several corrupt popes and cardinals, including Pope Nicholas III, who mistakes Dante for Pope Boniface VIII in the poem.
In this ditch, Dante must kill 5 enemies while they are airborne to pass. The bonus is to complete the trial in under one minute.
The fourth ditch is devoted to the diviners and fortune tellers. Astrologists, seers, sorcerers and others who attempted to pervert God’s laws to divine the future are punished here. Their heads have been twisted around to face backwards, and thus they are forced to walk backwards around the circumference of their circle for all time. As punishment for attempting to see the future they now can only look behind them, the point further expounded by the fact that tears continually stream from their eyes, blurring their vision. While this mainly is poetic justice for trying to see into the future, it also represents the twisted nature of magic in general. The blind prophet Tiresias resides in this ditch for his sins, along with his daughter Manto. This circle is mistakenly called Politicians on the PlayStation Portable port.
In this ditch Dante must stay in the air for 8 seconds to pass. The bonus is to kill 2 enemies while completing the challenge in the air.
The fifth level of the Malebolge is the home of the Politicians (extortionists, blackmailers, grafters and unscrupulous businessmen: sinners who used their positions in life to gain personal wealth or other advantages for themselves and robbing the rights of others). They are punished by being thrown into a river of boiling pitch and tar, which represents the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their business. In addition, should any of the politicians try to escape the pitch, a horde of demons (the "Malebranche", meaning "evil claws") armed with grappling hooks and barbs stands guard over them, ready to tear them to pieces and push them back into the tar.
In this ditch Dante must protect 2 innocents on opposite sides of the stage from hordes of Anger Minions that try to attack them. One innocent can die and Dante can still pass as long as the other lives, but the bonus is to keep both innocents safe until the end of the trial. These innocents will die with one hit, making this a difficult challenge.
The sixth level is the punishment for hypocrites. They are forced to wear heavy lead robes as they are marched around the circumference of their circle. The robes are golden and resemble a monk’s cowl but are lined with heavy lead, symbolically representing hypocrisy: as they degraded others for sin but glorified themselves, they committed the same sins that cripples them in the afterlife with their heaviness. Caiaphas, the Pharisee who insisted on the execution of Jesus, is himself crucified in this circle, staked to the ground so that the ranks of the lead-weighted hypocrites march across him.
In this ditch Dante must kill all enemies without using magic to pass the trial. The bonus is to complete the trial in under one minute. Dante then has to use an Asterian Beast to rumble the statue from up high down to cross through the breaking rocks.
The seventh ditch is the home of the thieves. The ditch is filled with serpents, dragons and other vengeful reptiles that torture the thieves endlessly. The bites of some of the snakes cause the thieves to spontaneously combust, only to regenerate their bodies for further torment in a few moments. Other thieves have their very essence traded with snakes and lizards that bit them, transforming their bodies into twisted snake like versions of themselves, trading their identity with every bite. As thieves stole other people's possessions in life, their very identity becomes subject to theft in the Malebolge.
In this ditch, Dante's health will slowly drain, and all enemies must be killed before he dies. The bonus is to complete the trial in under one minute.
Evil Advisors Edit
The eighth level is the home of evil counselors. In this trench, the souls of deceivers who gave false or corrupted advice to others for personal benefit are punished. They are constantly ablaze, appearing as nothing so much as living, speaking tongues of flame. Seen in this ditch is the Greek hero Odysseus, suffering here for his deception of the Trojan horse.
In this ditch, Dante must kill all enemies while being unable to block. The bonus is to complete the trial in under one minute.
Sowers of Discord Edit
The ninth level is the home of "sowers of discord". Sinners who, in life, promoted scandals, schism, and discord are punished here; particularly those who caused discord within the church or within politics. They are forced to walk around the circumference of the circle bearing horrible, disfiguring wounds inflicted on them by a great demon with a sword. The nature of the wound mirrors the sins of the particular soul; while some only have gashes, or fingers and toes cut off, others are decapitated, cut in half (as schismatics), or are completely disemboweled. Among those who are tormented here is Bertrand de Born, who carries around his severed head like a lantern as punishment for the discord he caused between Henry II and his son, Henry the Young King, who died rebelling against his father.
In this ditch Dante must kill all enemies in a single combo - if the hit counter resets, the trial is failed. The bonus is to complete the trial in under one minute.
The tenth and final area of the circle. Falsifiers, those who attempted to alter things through lies, deceit or alchemy, and those who tried to pass off false things as real things, such as counterfeiters of coins, are punished here. This ditch has four subdivisions where specific classes of falsifiers (alchemists, impostors, counterfeiters, and liars) endure different degrees of punishment based on horrible, consumptive diseases such as rashes, dropsy, leprosy and consumption. Here, Dante encounters the shade of Myrrha, afflicted with madness for disguising herself in order to seduce her own father.
In this ditch, Dante must simply survive the many overwhelming hordes of enemies that manifest. The bonus is to complete the trial in under 5 minutes.