Review – Hades

No place like home

Overview

Developer Supergiant Games
Publisher Supergiant Games
Genre Action RPG, Roguelite
Platforms PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date September 17, 2020

Anyone who knows anything about Greek mythology knows that the Greek gods always let their emotions get the best of them. This is especially true for Prince Zagreus, the teenage son of the lord of the titular underworld. Tired of his mundane life—among many other reasons—he sets out to see what the surface world and Olympus are like. Never has a declaration of “I’m running away from home and you can’t stop me!” been this extreme.

Content Guide

Violence: In this roguelite, Prince Zagreus fights his way through various rooms of enemies to escape Hades. He, and by extension the player, use various weapons to do so: sword, bow, shield, spear, gloves, and a gun. Blood splashes from enemies when injured and sometimes will linger on the floor through an encounter. When Zagreus dies, he is pulled into a pit and reborn back at his house from a large pool of blood. Bosses such as the Furies, when defeated, have a similar death animation.

Spiritual Content: The entire game is based around the Greek pantheon. Zagreus can make Nectar offerings in exchange for items to help on his quest. The gods offer Boons to Zagreus when he completes enemy room encounters.

Sexual Content: Aphrodite is essentially naked in her portrait with her long hair barely covering sensitive areas. Some of the male gods are depicted shirtless.

Alcohol Content: Dionysus, the god of wine and party, is always holding a glass of wine and offers Boons that inflict a status called Hangover.

Review

I have to get this out. Hades is a masterpiece. I know that there is usually a long lead-up of words and persuasion on why it is true, but I cannot help it. I love this game. And I need to get it out or I may combust. I have not been able to stop playing it. Every time I would sit down to write, I would keep saying “one more run” before losing entire afternoons and evenings to it. I have delayed writing these very words for days because of it. I am so addicted that I do not want to stop, but here I am free for the moment.

There are a lot of roguelikes out there, and a lot of them are really good, but only this one grabbed my attention for about a month’s time. Enter the Gungeon is also a really good roguelike game, but I was not able to find the will to actually get to the end of it. Every loss was devastating as I would lose that one weapon that I really liked, and every run after would get worse and worse for me. I do not have that issue in this game. Every run, I get one weapon out of the six mentioned earlier and I can use it over and over if I wish. Or, if I want to swap out on the next one, I can. All of the death dispatchers are completely viable to help reach the surface world. I have had runs where I used something I was not familiar with and I would end up seventy-five percent of the way finished.

Even when using something new, I could always count on some boons from the gods to beef it up to my liking. But that was not the only thing, as every chamber encounter in each world offers some other kind of reward like keys, shops, coins, weapon and boon upgrades, gemstones for customizing the house of Hades, and a resource called darkness that permanently upgrades abilities. Each one has a specific purpose that is never wasteful, and every choice brought before me helped me figure out some new style and tactic I could take forward. Progressing was not a hurdle to cross but an actual accomplishment unto itself. I never once balked at what I was given, and was exciting like finding a cool sticker in a Wonder Ball.

Each run never ceased to amaze me at how it would impact not only my skill, but also my interactions with the other characters. Returning to the house did not feel like a victory lap, nor a rain on my parade; it was just a return home. Characters that I had to fight would be bitter over my victory over them. Hypnos, Nyx, and Achilles would encourage and offer advice or tell stories. Hades would mock and belittle me while Cerberus would be the good boy that he is and let me pet him. Giving gifts of nectar as a gift would also help as I gained Keepsakes in return. All of this furthered my desire to get better as ranking them up through encounters made me stronger.

Each victory and defeat were a lesson to experiment with. No matter how many times I lost, I could always win. Pushing myself and seeing the end in sight was the perfect carrot on the stick. I would want to learn more of the lore from the gods as they gave me boons, and when I died I could hear the other side of the story. I would see things build around me and my actions more than any other roguelike had before. All of the characters were so much fun to see interact with each other, as every personality was on full display and never got old.

Hades shows what the genre can be and how it should be done. Supergiant Games is no stranger to high quality; they are practically married to the concept. Nothing feels as refreshing and fun as this. I cannot wait to keep playing it. The only problem is that I have been on the edge of my seat in excitement and I think it’s giving my back some problems from hunching over. I will take care of it after another run. Who am I kidding? It will definitely be more than that, stop looking at me like that. Stop reading and start playing this game.

The Bottom Line

 

Hades is a lot of fun and has set the standard for what a roguelite can and should be.

 

10

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Andrew Feistner

Jesus, Memes, and Streams. What else is there to say? You aren't here for this part, you want the stuff above this.

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