The Good and Bad of Hades: Looking at Game Design

Hades Key Art

Developer: Supergiant Games
Released: December 6, 2018
Price: $24.99 

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Nintendo Switch
Available On: Steam, Epic, Nintendo eShop
Engine: XNA

Introduction

Hades is an action role-playing game developed and published by Supergiant Games, it features myths and legends of ancient greek mythology and is very story focused.

Every god you will meet in this game is a real character in greek mythology, like Cerberus the three-headed dog that guards the Styx River, or the Olympian gods like Zeus the king of all gods, and his brother Poseidon, the god of the sea, it stays true to original  ancient greek mythology

The main character, Zagreus is a young lad rebelling against his father Hades, Lord of the Underworld and the Dead. As Zagreus, you fight through the Underworld with the help of the Olympian gods to get to the top and see the surface

Gameplay

The gameplay is slightly roguelike, as soon as you go outside the house of Hades, you are met with monsters to fight. Every monster has its own unique attack, you simply must avoid damage and kill all the enemies, and move on to the next chamber. The fights last between 5-30 seconds depending on your damage output and playstyle. Every time you finish fighting, a god boon will appear and after you accept it, you can choose between 2 chambers or paths, the only choice you get is which reward you will get at the end of the fight.

Every time you die while fighting you will be taken by the goddess river Styx herself; basically, a death menu will appear and you will respawn back at the house of Hades. Once you are there, you can talk to the underworld gods and residents of the house such as hero Achilles or the hard-working Megaera, a servant of the house, after you enjoy the wonderful dialogues you can continue progressing the story by trying to get to the surface again

Hades Screenshot - Dialogue

The Good

Now what Hades is best at is dialogue and storytelling, each character has their own personality and the way that they interact with you depends on what happens in-game when you are fighting, every character treats you differently and refers to you differently. For example, Hades always calls Zagreus “boy” in a mean tone, while Mother Nyx calls Zagreus “my child” and Achilles calls him “lad”; every character refers to Zagreus differently which creates amazing dialogue contrast and a range of personalities. It is a very small detail, but it makes a huge difference and in my opinion, it makes the writing top-notch. Even the way the gods interact with you progresses the story, sometimes you get help from 2 gods after a fight and I love the dialogue between them, such as how Aphrodite talks to Dionysus, it’s amazing!

The story progression is amazing and after some time you get another reason to beat the game other than just getting out of hell, which I will not spoil here. After every loss or victory the game gives you more and more reasons to get to the surface, cause when you do you’re rewarded with amazing story progression, but after the story is mostly complete the game kinda falls apart, which brings me to my next subject. But I will admit I am playing Hades in easy mode.

The Bad

The gameplay can get quite boring after 50+ runs or so because it’s a roguelike, you don’t get much in-game levelling up while in the chambers, other than boons from gods, I feel like these buffs called boons are not strong enough or powerful I feel like I’m always lacking damage no matter how I play.

This means you just develop a one-way strategy and when you get to the end of the story it does not progress much, at that point you are fairly decent at the game so every run is quite similar, which in turn makes it feel like a grindy clicker game rather than a fast-paced action game. I also found it difficult to max out the hearts with Olympic gods, so this was disappointing as well. In short, 15-30 minutes to successfully complete the run is too long for a roguelike.

Hades Screenshot - Gameplay

Final Judgement

Overall Hades is a fantastic roguelike. The story is amazing and the gameplay is fun and very exciting, I wish the story’s ending was bit more complete and satisfying rather than just getting stuck; but with such a huge game I’m not even sure that the story can be finished conclusively since there are so many dialogue options and different little endings. SuperGiant Games seems like a wonderful studio and I hope to try out more of their games since they have quite the gallery.

Scores

Music: 9/10
Gameplay:
7/10
Art:
10/10
Story:
10/10
Overall: 9/10

Wanna read more opinions on other cool indies? Try reading our review on Double Cross or our Favorite Picks of 2020!

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