Oops. I was going to review all the Supergiant games in order; you know, Bastion, then Transistor, then Pyre, and wrap up with Hades. But before I got around to finishing Pyre, Hades came out and… well, consumed my life. So, here we are.
There are very few rogue-like games that I actually manage to finish. As fun as some of them are, I end up getting frustrated whenever my seemingly god-tier run comes crashing down and I have to restart again. Out of all the ones I’ve played, the only ones I can think of that I consistently come back to are FTL: Faster Than Light, The Binding of Isaac, and Rogue Legacy. Out of those three, the only one in which I managed to reach the credits was FTL.
After many many wasted days of effort. But I digress.
I was surprised, therefor, when Hades gripped me as tightly as it did. Initially, I only bought it because of my sheep-like loyalty to Supergiant (hey, they made Bastion, which is one of my favorite games, what do you want?) But almost as soon as I started playing, Hades sank its hooks into me and refused to let go. I wasn’t just having fun with this game; I was completely addicted to it!
Now, so many playthroughs later, months after the game left early access, I can say, with the utmost certainty, that this is not only one of the best games of the year, but the best Supergiant game yet! Let me explain!
Story: Fuck You, Dad, I’m Going to Mom’s House!!
Jeez, and I thought I had family issues!
You play as Zagreus, the young son of Hades who has never been very good at the whole ‘ruling the Underworld’ shtick. After receiving a revelation regarding his family, he begins a seemingly hopeless quest to battle his way out of his father’s realm and reach the surface. As the game progresses, you are drip-fed more information regarding Zagreus’ past and his motivations.
I love how this game presents its narrative! It doesn’t immediately front load you with all the information! Instead, it gives you more and more with each attempt. The further you get, the more information you get. Slowly but surely, as you get closer to the surface, you understand more of the story! And by the time you get to the end, you’ll have a complete understanding of everything!
Not only an understanding, but an appreciation! Every single character, from the inhabitants of the House of Hades to the gods of Olympus, are all given plenty of time to shine! Each one has plenty of depth, with their own history and relationship with Zagreus and the other inhabitants of the house! Better yet: you can build those relationships as the game progresses using certain items!
And yes. You can, in fact, bang Thanatos, the god of death. Though personally, I’m a fan of Megera the fury. Don’t worry, though! You can do ’em both! At the same time, even!
*Not a joke*
But it ain’t perfect. See, in order to get the true ending and see the end credits, you need to beat the game not once, not twice or thrice, but ten god damn times! Thankfully, the gameplay itself is more than solid enough to keep you going. But god damn, that’s really annoying! I don’t want to have to play a game more than thrice, let alone ten times!! That’s a bit much!
Still better than Transistor. Shots fired!!
Presentation: The Supergiant Forte
Yup. This game looks and sounds amazing. In other shocking news, the sky is blue, you get wet when water splashes you, and climate change is real.
If there is one thing that Supergiant does consistently well, it’s presentation. All of their games are colorful, stylish, and incredibly unique! Every single one of them is completely timeless. They look amazing now, they’ll look amazing twenty years from now!
Graphically speaking, Hades is absolutely incredible. It takes classic Greek environments and puts that cartoony-comic paint brush to the whole thing! Every single thing from the character models and portraits to the environments are all visually striking!
Oh, and did I mention the buttery smooth 60 fps? Cause it’s got that going for it, too.
As for the music… come on. Do I have to say it? You know who made this game. Of fucking course Hades has killer music! ‘Good Riddance’ alone deserves a god damn award and that’s only one of the tracks!
Yeah. It looks and sounds amazing. We all knew it would. But how does it play?
Gameplay: PRESS ALL THE BUTTONS GO GO GO!!!
GOD DAMN DUDE THIS GAME IS SO FUCKING FAST AND CRAZY AND FUN!!!! I haven’t played a game with so much crazy stuff happening on screen since NieR Automata!
The core gameplay of Hades is simple. You choose a weapon, hop out of the House of Hades, and start climbing through the Underworld. Along the way, you’ll grab some powerups from the gods of Olympus, pick up some cash to buy some upgrades, make some friends, and slaughter many, many monsters and bosses! If you die, you gotta start all the way over from the beginning!
As a roguelike, this game depends on replayability. If you don’t want to try again, then there’s no point. So, how does Hades do?
Remember in the first season of MHA when Uraraka sent a ball flying for literally infinity? It’s like that.
There are hundreds of factors that go into each and every run. Each god gives you different upgrades and abilities, so you have some choice in your build. Do you go all-in on one specific god? Do you mix and match to create a balanced arsenal? Do you prefer a debuff build and lean towards Aphrodite and Dionysus? Or do you prefer to hit hard and fast with Zeus and Poseidon? Or do you want to never win so you use Artemis, whose abilities are actually trash?
Legit, I think Artemis is actually cursed. I have never beaten a run with an Artemis build.
Of course, luck is a major factor in it all. But you can skew that luck in your favor! With the Mirror of Darkness in Zagreus’ room, you can buy permanent upgrades that increase your stats and the drop rates of certain upgrades. This will prove essential to your progress. None of the upgrades are all that flashy, but they’re downright essential for success!
You also unlock new weapons as you progress. Which one works best will depend on your play style. Wanna stay at a distance? Shoot ’em with a bow or a gun (yes, there is an actual gun)! Wanna turtle behind a shield, then play Captain America? Go with the shield! Wanna act like Ryu from Street Fighter? Pick the fists and punch their lights out!
Even better yet: after clearing your first run, you unlock customizable difficulty settings! That’s right! You can make the game even harder! And these are amazing! Want to completely change up how the bosses fight?! Wanna put yourself on a strict time limit?! Wanna give enemies a shield that you need to break before you can do damage?! WANNA DO ALL OF THEM AT THE SAME TIME?!?!
Now, let’s switch gears and talk about the combat itself. Each weapon has a completely distinct move set that will alter your approach to battle, which may work better or worse against certain selections in the huge roster of enemies this game presents. And make no mistake, not only are there tons of enemies, but they have tons of attacks to kill you with! Some will rush you, others will shoot beams or orbs, others will spawn smaller enemies, the list goes on! In a fight with lots of enemies, the screen can get real chaotic real quick!
Hell, even the environment itself is an enemy! Each room is filled to the brim with environmental hazards, from spike traps to lava or falling rocks! These can either be used for you or against you! Wanna murder the enemies with the environment? Go ahead! Just don’t let them do the same to you!
The boss fights are the easy highlight here. All of them have a huge variety of attacks, which can quickly flood the screen with death! Get ready to move as fast as you can, cause this game can become a bullet hell real quick!
This shit is addictive as hell! It’s chaotic, it’s ultra fast paced, and it has an absolutely insane amount of variety! You can go through thousands of runs and still not run out of possibilities! There’s so much to do and it never stops being fun!
AND I DIDN’T EVEN MENTION HOW YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE THE HOUSE!!
Heed my warning: if you need to be productive, don’t buy this game. It is so damn fun and addictive that all the time of your day will rapidly vanish. The ‘just one more run’ mentality is stronger in this game than any other that I’ve ever played! AND I’VE PUT OVER THREE HUNDRED HOURS INTO CIV 5!!
If you have free time to spare (or you don’t have an addictive personality like I do) then I’d absolutely recommend playing Hades! It is easily one of the best games of this year and one of best games from Supergiant yet! This game is a masterpiece, through and through!
It is chaos! It is gorgeous! And it is so much damn fun!!
Fuck, now I need to play it again!