Roguelike titles are always interesting to review. It’s usually very challenging not to be too subjective about the game in general, but I feel like roguelikes are even more prone to that. Depending on who you are and what you enjoy, a roguelike can totally set you on fire and keep you busy for nights to come, or it can bore you aggressively so that you switch it off after a couple of minutes. I didn’t expect too much from Hades, but I was positively surprised about how well it was done and how nicely it keeps you tied in.
Hades was developed and published by Supergiant Games (Pyre, Transistor, Bastion ), and the official release date for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X/S was on the 13th of August, only a few days back. Still, the original release for Windows, macOS, and Nintendo Switch was a bit earlier, on September 17th, 2020. I played on Xbox Series X because I use the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and it was included on launch day. Actually, I only wanted to test it for about a half-hour at that time, but I got hooked and played easily for four or five hours without taking a break.
What’s Hades like?
In Hades, you don’t play as Hades, but as the son of Hades, who’s called Zagreus, and the setting puts you into the shoes of this rebellious teenager who wants to escape hell (also called Hades) of the ancient Greek mythology. As you fight your way through the underworld towards mount Olymp, you will naturally die very often, as this is common practice with roguelike games. Following popular game mechanics, each time you live and fight, you will be able to collect items and currency to level your character up to be stronger in the next run.
The gameplay is focused on hack and slash combat, but you can be smart about what weapon you choose and what talents you choose to accept from the gods. At first, the game feels a bit too overwhelming and challenging. Still, if you generally enjoy the experience, you’ll learn quickly how to adapt to various situations in the game. Just get used to dying and starting over from the beginning. If you find it too difficult, you can enable some god mode settings to make it less challenging. Everybody can have fun with Hades, no matter how skillful they are.
Something I really like about Hades is that as you start over, there are always new character encounters and new dialogues available with other heroes and gods from ancient Greek mythology. It really tells a story, and it keeps things interesting. The game is styled in a way that I could hardly describe without taking other games as a reference. The visuals are lovely and well done, but some might find them too cartoony, perhaps. I’d say the style resembles a Diablo III that is somewhat more comic-like than what Diablo III already looks like. The soundtrack is adaptive to what’s happening in the game and, overall, very pleasing and atmospheric.
Anything they could have done better in Hades?
Is there something bad about Hades? Not so much. I personally have a very strong preference to be able to create my own characters or at least customize pre-made characters and in Hades, there is simply no way to design your own character and you can change nothing about the protagonist’s appearance, there are not even items like pieces of armor that you could quip which would alter your outfit. The only thing you can change is your weapon type. If you don’t care about creating your own characters, then you can just as well ignore this note. I still enjoy playing Hades as it is, but I’d like it more with options to create and own a character rather than using a pre-made one that feels a little antiquated.
Taking that into account, I’d still say that Hades does nothing wrong. If you enjoy mythological settings or roguelike titles in general, don’t pass up the opportunity to try out Hades. On Steam, the title currently costs around 20 bucks, and on the PlayStation Store, you can download it for about $25. If you’re playing on Xbox, you should look at the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes access to Hades more than 100 other games.
YouTube: Hades – Xbox & PlayStation Trailer
Photo credit: All media shown is owned by Supergiant Games.