When I had the opportunity to play Hades for review last year, it felt like the culmination of everything Supergiant Games had done up to that point. The wonderful voice acting, the beautiful and distinct art style, a strong narrative direction, and most importantly, fast-paced action gameplay that could keep you hooked for easily a hundred hours and more. Hades felt like a nearly flawless iteration of the rogue-lite genre, and the PlayStation and Xbox releases are just another reminder of that.
I’ve spent the past week or so checking out the PS5 build of the game, and yeah, it’s just as good as I remember it.
The first thing you’ll notice is how snappy the load times are. Just like pretty much every other game that runs on the PS5, Hades makes good use of the internal SSD to make the load times feel practically non-existent. Indeed, whenever I boot up the game, I’m taken to the main menu and into my save file within a matter of seconds. It’s certainly on par with the load times I get on my PC, and that’s pretty nice.
There is one important thing to note about these versions of the game, though. While the PC and Switch versions support cross-save, allowing you to carry over your progress between platforms seamlessly, that feature does not exist on PlayStation and Xbox due to technical complications. It’s unclear whether that’ll ever change, but it’s something to consider if you’re thinking about double-dipping on Hades.
Hades runs at a crisp 60 frames per second on PS5 as well, which is important especially when you consider how fast-paced the gameplay is. Most of my playtime in Hades was spent on the Switch version in handheld mode, so experiencing the game on my much bigger television screen was certainly a welcome change, too. While the PS4 and Xbox One versions feature 1080p resolution graphics, the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S builds are enhanced with 4K graphics.
Sure, Hades might not be the most graphically intensive game around, but being able to appreciate its striking art style and visual design at a higher resolution was certainly a treat.
Gameplay-wise, it’s just as frantic and satisfying as I remember it. Hades is a fantastic take on the rogue-lite genre, one that punishes players heavily for dying and forcing them to restart from the beginning. Compared to other games in the genre, Hades is pretty forgiving, as it’s fairly easy to farm resources to purchase permanent upgrades that will make future runs easier, but the idea of dying repeatedly and having to start from its first level can seem off-putting to new players.
Hades works around that obstacle by tying the idea of death together with its narrative; you play Zagreus, the prince of the Underworld, who’s defying his father and attempting to break out to the surface world. You’re immortal, and the Underworld is treacherous, its denizens determined to keep you imprisoned there. Each time you die, you’re rewarded with new dialogue from its cast of colorful characters, and even new story beats to help flesh out the narrative.
There are, of course, gameplay incentives to keep you coming back to the Underworld as well. There are new weapons to unlock, all of which provide players with drastically different play styles. One minute you’re an archer firing off quick precise arrows at your foes, and in another, you’re punching everything with your fists in a flurry of blows.
The various Olympian gods also help to keep things fresh, all of whom offer a variety of different Boons that ensure that no two runs ever feel the same. I started a new file on PS5 and slowly worked my way up to the surface from scratch; after having spent nearly a hundred hours on this game before, I was certainly better at it. I knew every Boon like the back of my hand, and before long, I’d entered the ‘zone’ and I was speeding through levels faster than ever before.
Pick the bow. Go with the Aspect of Hera. Go for Artemis boons. Use Chaos to increase your Cast count. Profit.
If I wasn’t feeling the bow for a particular run, I could pick any other weapon type and feel just as comfortable. Pick the sword, build up your HP, get Cursed Strike via a Dedalus Hammer. Pick the fists, take the chain lightning attack from Zeus, increase your attack speed with Hermes. The list goes on.
It’s incredible to think that even though I’ve seen almost everything that Hades has to offer (the epilogue still eludes me), it’s still so easy to get completely sucked into its world and characters all over again. Even if you’ve yet to give Hades ago, you’ve likely heard all about it and know how much praise it’s gotten.
Almost one year after its full release, this game is still just as engaging and fun as it was on day one, and it’s certainly well-deserving of all that praise and critical acclaim. If you have even a passing interest in its story or combat but never gave it a shot because you didn’t have a Switch or PC, there’s no reason not to try it now.
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