Hades Review – A Roguelike Gift from the Gods

Hades review

Hades is nominated for Game of the Year at The Game Awards for a good reason. The roguelike dungeon RPG is creative and stellar.

For a long time, I didn’t have a lot of passion for dungeon games. I thought they were overly difficult and often unenjoyable, teetering importance to the grind and not the story. Yet I’ve been proven wrong by a few titles over the years. One of which is Supergiant Game’s roguelike RPG Hades which I played on the Nintendo Switch.

Hades was released in early access in December of 2018, but its full release on September 17 of this year saw it reach new heights in fanfare and critical acclaim. The game sees you play as Zagreus, son of Hades and Prince of the Underworld as you battle through the twisting labyrinth wanting to escape to higher ground with your sights set on Olympus.

What makes Hades so entertaining is its depth in story, lore and gameplay. The main floor of the Underworld, where Hades sits at his desk barking grumpily and mumbling about the Gods on Olympus alongside his hound Cerberus is proof of the deep care put into the design of this game, as well as the amazing art style and voice acting that takes this game up a level.

Screenshot: Nate Burleyson

For anyone who is interested in Greek mythology, the game offers a large cast of characters that each have their own nuances and added characteristics. The first boss you have to face is Megaera, one of the Furies, who quips back and forth with Zagreus before a battle ensues. This is the end of one of the main chambers of Hades. There are four altogether before you can beat the game and escape the Underworld, but it’s difficult.

Hades Keeps You Coming Back For More

This level of difficulty results in many, many, many attempts. See, this is where another game of similar nature would lose me, but Hades pulls me back in for a variety of reasons. The first being the different types of weapons. The six Infernal Arms, or weapons, range from in-your-face tight combat to long-range projectile combat. These are balanced extremely well, as no weapon is a lot better than another one, it’s all based on how you wish to play the game.

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Another feature that makes Hades replayable is boons. These are gifts from the different Gods of Olympus such as Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Hermes, and more. These give specific powerups to your character’s special attack, normal attack, and call. These can be upgraded throughout your escape attempt in order to better battle throughout.

Screenshot: Nate Burleyson

On top of boons and weapons, the different overall upgrades you can make to Zagreus’ abilities make every escape attempt feel rewarding even if you come up short. In your first 10-15 runs, unless you have some insane ability, battles against the first two of four bosses will often do you in. There are around 70 total chambers or rooms you must clear in total, with four boss fights and some other mini-boss fights.

The core gameplay is super fun and rewarding, but it’s aided by the excellent art and music in the game. The chambers are designed with obvious care for the source material along with unique quirks and designs that make the game the designer’s own. One can just stare at a character and analyze their outfit, facial features and overall design to see what the designers did successfully.

The music is also a great part of the game. Getting into a boss fight and having the music crank up is an integral part of any video game, and Hades nails this with a variety of smoother, calmer music and cranked-up rock. This helps add to how fun and cool this game can really feel. Whether it’s dashing away from an enemy to hitting a critical strike when you’re on your last few hearts or clearing out a room after getting a powerful boon, Hades delivers everything great the genre can.

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