Review: Hades – Roguelike? Godlike!
Hades recently emerged from Early Access and released as a full game on PC via the Epic Games Store and Steam and on Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo eShop. Escape from the underworld as the son of Hades. Are you okay?
Hades is a brand new Roguelike from Supergiant Games, known for Bastion , Transistor and Pyre . You don't play as Hades, but as Zagreus, the son of Hades and Persephone. Anyone who knows me a bit as a person knows that I am a huge sucker for Greek Mythology and Hades knows very well how to get Orpheus to strike all the right strings.
Escape from the underworld
In Hades, your goal is to escape from the underworld as Zagreus, the immortal son of Hades. The Mountain of Olympus is your goal and to get there you will be helped along the way by other Olympian gods through presents. You are in a sense immortal, so you are never completely finished. Once you lose your last lives in an escape attempt, you will return to the Palace of Hades.
In this palace you can make your character stronger by means of upgrade points found in the underworld. This makes every attempt a little easier with permanent bonuses that you can unlock and buy. After each return to the palace, you will be greeted by famous figures from the underworld such as Hades himself, but also Cerberus, Nyx, Achilles and many more. Depending on how you 'died' they will have a chat with you.
For example, will the Bone Hydra Boss kill you in Asphodel? Then you are confronted with this fact by the various inhabitants of Hades' palace. Hades himself generally speaks especially hatefully to you and especially advises you to give up, because you will never escape anyway.
Hades is a roguelike game and that means every run is different. Escape from the underworld is done by traveling through different areas that consist of several rooms and paths. Each path contains different rewards along the way and each run contains different paths and rooms that are completely randomly generated. You will travel through Tartarus, Asphodel, Elysium and the Temple of Styx, among others.
During your playthrough, at each end of an area you will encounter a boss like Magaera in Tartarus' last room. During your playthrough you will see different doors in each room that will take you to the next room. On the door is a picture of the reward you get after completing the next room. Rewards include Keys, Gifts, Upgrade Points, Money, and Extra Life Points.
You take keys and upgrade points with you when you die and help you through the entire game. Keys allow you to buy new weapons and unlock more upgrades for Zagreus. Gifts, money, and extra life points are only valid during your current escape attempt and are lost once you die.
The great thing about Hades is that you don't have to be good at Roguelike games. With upgrades, other weapons and keepsake bonuses you will get stronger and stronger, regardless of how good you are at these types of games. Making every attempt easier. For example, you unlock extra damage, revives, more special attacks and more by upgrading Zagreus.
Other Olympian gods will also lend you a hand during your attempt. They send Gifts to the Underworld that Zagreus can use in his escape attempt. When sending such a Gift, each god has a short chat with Zagreus and tells him, among other things, that he or she is looking forward to his arrival in Olympia. Gifts are also completely dedicated to the matching god. Zeus sends Gifts that will cause you extra electricity damage, for example.
You can also give something back for the helping hands around you. A rare commodity that you can find while playing is Nectar. You can then give this to a character of your choice with which they thank you with a keepsake. Keepsakes are passive bonuses that you can turn on throughout your playthrough. For example, a particular keepsake is 25 extra life points by default. Which means you start each run with 75 lives instead of 50. Unfortunately, you can only have one keepsake active at a time.
Along the way you will also come across a room at certain times where Charon, the ferryman of the underworld, has set up his humble shop. Here you can quickly top your lives with gold coins or if you have saved enough, even buy an upgrade.
Finishing according to the Greek ideal
The beauty of Hades lies not only in the fantastic and rewarding gameplay, but also in the finish of the game. First of all, it looks very nice. The areas are nicely put together and Hades' palace looks gruesome, yet lavish. The gods themselves are very similar to their caricatures with their own twist and I can appreciate that.
The game not only looks great, but also sounds great. The game has full voice acting! Every god and every character has a chat with you and I still regularly get into conversations that are not necessary at all for the functionality of the game, but are just 'fun'! The nail on the head is the soundtrack with your famous Greek tunes, again with a twist that fits the game very well.
Hades is the most fun, rewarding and beautiful game of its kind I've ever played. Not just because I'm a sucker for mythology, but mostly because it works perfectly and does so much more than it should. It's much more than a well-functioning roguelike in its own right. Hades isn't roguelike, it's godlike!
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