Hades is a roguelike action roleplaying game from Supergiant Games, best known for their earlier releases Bastion and Transistor, that felt more focused on storytelling and artistry rather than gameplay. Hades feels like the next evolved state of those two games, finally bringing the gameplay to the same level as the other aspects. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, fighting your way through the Underworld to reach Earth’s surface and find answers to secrets your father would rather keep hidden.
As is custom to the roguelike genre, the primary gameplay loop of Hades revolves around your repeated attempts to fight through to reach the end, only to take the journey again and again after succeeding. Each run is different thanks to randomized upgrades and room sequences, as well as your choice of weapon and possible difficulty modifiers. The combat is fast–paced and stays fresh due to all the alterations to your abilities, like changing your attack pattern or giving you the ability to heal yourself by damaging enemies while your maximum amount of health is reduced heavily. All the different possible combinations make sure you will experience something new each run.
It’s not all about the action though. Unlike most other roguelikes with minimal and vague storytelling, Hades has a proper advancing storyline and 30 characters that you can deepen your friendship with the game’s relationship-minigame. The stories and characters are based entirely on the actual stories of Greek mythology, and the amount of effort that has been put into bringing them to life is applaudable. Each piece of dialogue is fully voice acted, from cutscenes and conversations between characters to throwaway messages you receive from the gods, and getting to listen the actors’ performances is always a treat to the ears.
The game is also beautiful both in terms of visuals and music. The world and character portraits have a distinct style which is just joyous to look at, and the music enhances the atmosphere, be it the high-tension basslines during combat or the soothing singing of a friend you meet in a moment of peace during the climb.
Hades is the first time a roguelike has captivated me with its story and characters, and when those elements are paired with a satisfying combat system that allows for as much difficulty and depth as you are comfortable with, I think that Supergiant Games has crafted an instant classic that will hopefully show the rest of the games industry what they should strive for from this point forward.
Each picture is a screenshot from the game taken by the writer.
Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, macOS, Microsoft Windows
Release date: September 17, 2020
Genres: Action, Indie, RPG, Roguelike