REVIEW: ‘Hades’ Is an Addicting Roguelike Like No Other (Switch)

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Hades' Zagreus

Supergiant GamesHades is now out of early access, and has moved from only being available on the Epic Store to being offered on both Steam and Nintendo Switch. This single player, RPG action-adventure indie is a beautifully crafted roguelike dungeon crawler that will have players coming back for more.

You play as Zagreus, son of Hades and Persephone, an immortal Prince of the Underworld who is trying to escape from Tartarus and join his other family of gods on Mount Olympus. While Zagreus’ father views his attempts as fruitless and futile, his aunts and uncles on high send their aid as Zagreus traverses the Underworld, vanquishing anyone and anything that stands in his way.

The point of Hades is to escape the Underworld and meet your other family. Each dungeon run or escape has you exploring the Underworld looking for a way out while trying to stay alive. Once you die, it’s a trip back home and you lose all your items and boons. The moment you step foot in Tartarus, you are greeted by a random god that will give you a boon to power you and your abilities up. These boons affect your normal attack, special attack, and cast, making builds quite unique and helpful to whatever your playstyle is. Your cast is a one-time projectile item that you get back either after some time or defeating the enemy it was shot at.

As you control and aid Zagreus in his attempt to abscond from the Underworld, you have no choice but to become emotionally invested in its cast of characters and their relationships. If you are no stranger to Greek mythology, you’ll know that Persephone is Hades’ wife. She is the reason for the seasons, spending six months in the mortal world (Spring and Summer) and six months in the Underworld (Fall and Winter). You get to a point in the game where Zagreus finds out Persephone is his real mother and not Nyx, who he has known all his life. However, Persephone is yet to be seen because she left Hades while Zagreus was still a child. With the game fully voice acted, the shock and anger Zagreus displays after learning he’s been lied to his entire life can be felt by the player.

Before leaving the House of Hades and traversing the Underworld, you can prepare for your escape by peering into Nyx’s Mirror of Night. Here you can level up permanent stats and abilities with your collected currency, known as Darkness, which drops randomly in encounters. These stat increasing options vary from things such as increased normal and special attack by a certain percentage or restoring health when you exit a chamber.

Hades Chamber

In one of the rooms in the House of Hades, you can view Zagreus’ Keepsakes and weapons. Keepsakes are items Zagreus can equip that gives him added abilities and stats. While Nyx’s boons are permanent and are upgraded with Darkness, Keepsakes can only be equipped one at a time and upgraded after completing a certain amount of encounters. An encounter is defined as every time you enter a chamber and defeat all enemies therein.

After peering in Nyx’s Mirror and collecting your weapon, your dungeon runs begin. You go from chamber to chamber defeating enemies and, upon victory, you receive a god’s boon. At the start of the next run, your boon will be received at random and you can choose from three abilities. After an encounter, if there are multiple doors, you can choose a door to enter and receive a prize. Each door has the prize plastered on its face so you know exactly what you’re in for when you complete that chamber. However, not all chambers reward boons. Encounters tend to be short depending on your skill level.  I usually found myself in the first boss’ chamber in between five and ten minutes. But the great thing about Hades is there is a God Mode. When you activate this option, after death, you receive a permanent damage resistance buff that increases by 2% each time you die.

Swinging back to weapons, each weapon accommodates a different playstyle. There seems to be a total of six available to be unlocked. As you traverse the Underworld you will come across Chthonic Keys. Obtaining a certain number will grant you access to a new weapon in your arsenal. You begin the game with your Stygian Blade, which is a broad sword with decent attack speed and a slam attack that dishes out an area of damage around you. There is a diversity of weapons in the game, including swords, a shield, a bow, a spear, and fists. Each weapon feels different and some are harder to master than others. Some weapons obviously pander to specific playstyles such as the bow and spear, both of which allow you to keep your distance.

Your special attack also changes with each weapon equipped. With the spear, you can toss it and press the corresponding button for it to return to you while damaging any enemy in your path. The bow (my favorite) has a special attack with a widespread that can completely cover both small and medium-sized chambers.

Hades is such an amazing game that not only grips you with its action gameplay but also a stirring story that unfolds each time you die. Supergiant does not disappoint when it comes to crafting a beautiful soundtrack to keep you further invested. You fall in love with each character’s personality and design. The entire game is fully voice acted, bringing the characters and story to life.

Hades is a different experience in the roguelike genre. It blends together a narrative with the mechanics and gameplay of roguelike, dungeon crawling games. With the option to play with different abilities and truly craft your own playstyle, replayability is extremely high. And while death is going to be the norm in this game, you’ll be able to activate God Mode, making this game an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Hades is available now on PC (Epic Store, Steam) and Nintendo Switch.

Hades
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Hades is a different experience in the roguelike genre. It blends together a narrative with the mechanics and gameplay of roguelike, dungeon crawling games. With the option to play with different abilities and truly craft your own playstyle, replayability is extremely high. And while death is going to be the norm in this game, you’ll be able to activate God Mode, making this game an enjoyable experience for everyone.