Hades is a roguelike isometric dungeon crawler by Supergiant Games that just recently came out of early access. Set knee-deep in some pretty thick Greek mythology and lore, you take control of Hades’ son Zagreus who wants to climb his way out of the Underworld.
To put it simply, that’s easier said than done. True to its rogue-like, Metroidvania-esque roots, you’ll be dying quite a few times trying to leave.
If you’re on the fence about picking up Hades or wondering if it’s worth your time, long story short: it is. We’ve put together a few reasons why you definitely need to pick this game up and hop into the Underworld.
Its Pretty Difficult
It’s an understatement to say that Hades is difficult. You start from the bottom of the Underworld and you need to climb your way up to the surface to escape. However, there are numerous enemies, bosses, and randomly generated rooms in your path.
The difficulty ramps up the further and further up you climb through areas and you’ll quickly find your screen filling up with a whole bunch of enemies, projectiles, or a varied combination of the two.
There are no traditional health potions or ways to heal so if you get knocked down to 3 HP early in your run, it’s very likely you’ll be stuck at that amount for a good chunk of the journey.
Your dash ability will easily become your best friend because it helps you dodge attacks, cross gaps, and close the distance between you and an enemy.
However, Hades softens the difficulty a bit with the fact that death isn’t exactly a punishment. The story actually progresses and dialogue expands every time you die. You can also upgrade weapons, unlock abilities, and mess around with your build before you dive back into the Underworld.
There’s also something ridiculously satisfying and fulfilling about managing to beat the area boss when you’re only hanging onto 20 HP and a dream.
There’s also an option to crank down the difficulty if you’re in it mostly for the story so Hades doesn’t lock you into its harder gameplay if it’s not your cup of tea.
The Character Art Is Gorgeous
There’s technically two art styles in Hades. The first is what you’ll see and experience while walking around, diving into the Underworld, and when you’re generally just minding your business.
However, the dialogue is treated in a similar way to visual novels with each speaker appearing as an image on-screen with their respective dialogue box beside them. In these moments, the art shifts to a more hand-drawn, elaborate style.
Every single character is intricately designed in a way that fits into their lore. Dionysus is draped in grapes and wine, Hades is presented in a way that intimidates, Aphrodite is literally naked, and Poseidon looks like he came right out of the water.
If you’re particularly into games for their art, Hades will definitely pique your interest for its gorgeous art style because everyone’s so pretty.
The Music Is Amazing
Cruising through the Underworld requires some appropriate music and Hades delivers on that front. It’s hard to describe music in words but Hades’ OST will hype up every enemy encounter, pump you up for a tough boss fight, and help you chill out when you’re relaxing in Zagreus’ room.
Right from the main menu, you’re treated to a killer track that sets you up for a wild experience.
Hades’ OST adds a level of immersion to your dungeon crawling that makes it easier to feel like you’re a long-forgotten Greek God fighting your way through numerous enemies to escape the Underworld.
Though, it’s no surprise Hades has an awesome soundtrack. It’s made by the same devs who released Transistor, another game with an unforgettable soundtrack.
It Has a Unique Death Mechanic
In Hades, your only task is to climb your way out of the Underworld. However, as mentioned earlier, that’s easier said than done. The difficulty is brutal and you’ll die pretty frequently.
When you do die, you lose all the progress you made in the Underworld, your coins, Boons, and certain items. You land right back in the House of Hades, a sort of character hub where you can talk to people like Hades, Nyx, Achilles, and Cerberus.
In a way similar to Spelunky (and Spelunky 2), you have to start from the very beginning every time you want to dive back in to the Underworld. However, different parts of the story actually progress with each death and every time you return to the House of Hades there are new dialogue options and sometimes new characters to talk to.
You also have the option to upgrade your character, change weapons, and pick different trinkets so you’re not entirely starting from level zero.
The death mechanic is admittedly brutal but Hades softens the blow with a bit of lore and customization.
The Gameplay Is Incredibly Diverse
There’s so much to talk about here. First of all, every time you dive into the Underworld the map layout changes so every escape attempt is different.
Because of this, rooms are randomized and item rewards are different as well. The only constants are the number of rooms and the fact that you’ll need to fight a set boss to reach the next area.
On your first few encounters, these bosses will generally be the same. However, there’s the chance to fight variants of them that have different move sets and attacks. You won’t know which kind of boss you’ll be up against with each escape attempt until you meet them.
Additionally, there are several different weapons to choose from with their own upgrades, playstyles, and move sets. Pair these up with several different keepsakes that have minor effects and you can customize your character with plenty of different combinations.
Nearly everything is randomized in Hades so sometimes you’ll have a great run through the Underworld and sometimes you’ll die in the first four rooms. There is no in-between.
Bonus: You Can Pet Cerberus
Finally, as a bonus, you can pet the goodest boy in the game. Every time you die, you’ll return to the House of Hades where Cerberus resides. You’re allowed to pet him every single time you see him and Zagreus will praise him with the best pets and the best compliments.
This will never get old and I’ve personally given Cerberus pets literally every chance I get. There’s actually an achievement to petting Cerberus a certain amount of times so if the game encourages it, you might as well do it.
Cerberus may be the intimidating, monstrous, and brutal watchdog of the Underworld but he likes some good old pats just as much as any other dog.
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