Hades is well, spectacular. That’s the review folks, that all you need to know, just buy the game. Oh, you are still here? You are going to make me write a lot of stuff, aren’t you? Let’s get to it.
The time finally came for us console peasants to be blessed by the release of the critically acclaimed, and well-deserved, roguelike Hades. Until now, there have been many great roguelikes that had a great story, great characters, unique settings, and a great gameplay loop. But I think Hades might be the first to package all of the above and so much more into one amazing experience.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone though knowing what excellent stuff Supergiant Games have released prior to Hades. Bastion and Transistor were, are still some of the best games ever made, but I think Hades is their magnum opus… well, until their next game that is.
Zagreus, son of Hades, is a bored young lad who just wants to escape his father’s domain, literally Hell, and go see and explore the outside world. And in a roguelike fashion, you start from the depths of Hell and make your way to the top. This journey is not easy though as you will have to battle all sorts of monsters, creatures, things, and gods to finally come face to face with the man responsible for your boredom and you guessed it, it’s your father Hades.
So you start each run fresh with one of the six available weapons clearing room after room, fighting and murdering all sorts of enemies, getting more powerful after each room and acquiring different abilities along the way and at the end of each of the four levels, you face the boss of that domain. So far, you’ve played this game countless times before as this is pretty much the roguelike formula. Things get interesting when you die though.
When you die, you wake up in a pool of blood inside your father’s palace, and here is where you get to meet, talk, interact and learn all about the other gods, demigods, and creatures that live inside the palace. This is where you will slowly uncover the true motivation of why Zagreus wants to leave this place and all of the secrets that House Hades hides from you. The more you die, the more you get to learn and thanks to the excellent writing and voice acting that Supergiant has put into Hades, these moments are some of the best. Hades for example is there to “mock you” after each time you fail. Achilles will slowly divulge more information about what happens inside the palace. Nyx, your stepmother, will slowly trickle out information about your true mother and so on. Gifting nectar, you know like the saying “Nectar of the Gods” to well, the gods and other characters in the house and while on the run, will give you more information and explain and build this world even more and I think this is a truly unique part of Hades. Death in roguelikes sucks as you are thrown back at the start, but it doesn’t really suck that much here cause of the story bits you get on each new run.
I have played all throughout this week and I am far, like really really far, from completing all of the journal entries. But I will keep running away from home, time and time again cause the gameplay is so so good.
As mentioned before Zag has a couple of weapons he can choose from before he starts any run and each of the weapons is completely unique and will change dramatically how you approach each run. Melee weapons like the fists, sword, and lance allow for close, medium combat, the arrow, and the gun allow for long-range while the shield can do both as you can either bash the enemies heads close range or throw the shield Captain America’s style for long-range. Each room you clear grants you something, from keys and gems to unlock more buffs and upgrades for Zagreus, Boons which are abilities granted by the other gods of the pantheon that will help you in your quest to the fabled Daedalus Hammer which will drastically change the way your attacks work. Zag can do a normal attack, a special one, cast a barbed gem that locks into enemies nerfing them, and a dash. Boons from the gods will enhance one of these granting you an ability or status effect related to the god. For example, if you find a Boon from Zeus and you have your shield equipped your special attack the shield throw will also zap the enemies with lighting, or a Boon from Dionysus, the god of wine, will make your attacks or dash cause a hangover effect which will damage enemies for a couple of seconds.
If the RNG gods are on your side, your runs can become stupidly powerful and that is extremely satisfying when it happens as you will melt pretty much whatever comes your way. Boss fights are also engaging and very satisfying and they will murder your ass a lot of times until you get more powerful, learn their attack so you can kick their ass over and over again.
Man, Hades is a lot of fun both in and out of combat. The sheer number of gameplay-altering Boons and items you can get each run, keep the game fresh for a long time. The sheer variety of enemies where each level has its unique pool of enemies will keep things fresh for a long time. And since each of the six weapons can be upgraded even further well, that will keep you hooked on for a long long time and don’t even get me started on the higher difficulty setting or the Pact of Punishment mode. I am far from finishing Hades as I just managed to defeat Hades (did not expect the man to have 2 phases…) and I am as excited to keep playing it as I was on the first-ever run.
Supergiant has crafted a stellar and spectacular game. From the intriguing story and badass gameplay to the magnificent presentation, my god I have to talk about presentation. It is absolutely stunning and filled to the brim with details. The animation work is incredible. Enemy design too. And the music is so so good, bombastic which will get your blood pumping during some of the intense encounters, and OMFG the voice acting is so smooth, suave that might impregnate your ears.
Everything in this game is well above and beyond the normal stuff we usually get and you truly understand why the game got so many Game of the Year awards the year it was released. If I would have played it back then, it would have been my GOTY for sure and since this year has been kinda slow for games, Hades might end up my GOTY for 2021. Buy this game, like right now, and don’t thank me, but thank the developers for putting in the work and crafting a game for the ages. Thanks for reading.
A PS5 code was provided for this review. Hades is out now for pretty much all of the important platforms.