Developer: Supergiant Games
Platform(s): Mac, PC (Reviewed), Switch
Gene(s): Action, RPG
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Hades is the wonderful imagined rogue-like dungeon crawler. The game manages to delicately balance the rouge-like game with a story underneath, it’s tough and difficult but each play-through allows you to power up to progress a little further each time. Every subsequent run is a little easier. This is set in the wonderfully reimagined Underworld with a host of characters from Greek mythology and you play as Zagreus and his journey to escape.
The game centres on Zagreus (son of Hades) and his journey out of the Underworld. You start with a weapon that has a normal and a special attack, you can unlock more weapons as you progress through the game. You can cast a gem too that can inflict damage. These are your primary forms of attack. You have a dash/dodge mechanic too. As you progress through the game you gain power-ups (boons), these last for several dungeons, until you die or until you replace them. These power-ups are vital to surviving each dungeon and ultimately escaping. The combination of your initial weapon of choice and the power-ups define your playstyle through that run and each run is different due to the random nature of power-ups. That’s the game in a nutshell in a simplistic form.
The developers have kept the gameplay super simple but allowed for an amazing array of character build types from melee, ranged or somewhere in between. Then the power-up mechanism has a huge array of choice and combinations too. As with any rogue-like, you will die a lot. I found the numerous character playstyles that varied so much through each run which gave the game longevity and its novelty factor. There wasn’t a point in the game after 30 hours of game time that I felt bored, it just was engrossing and engaging, it was tons of fun. It was so much fun and difficult too.
Hades is primarily a cartoon(y) art style, the Underworld has several stages that are themed too. Each stage has its nuances and level design features that can be used to your advantage. There is a huge cast of characters of Greek Gods from Hermes to Athena to Ares to name a few, each with their personality and voice-over too. The voice-overs and acting are superb which adds a whole another dimension to the gameplay and storytelling elements. The characters help to paint the world around you and your place in it. Humour is used effectively too to enhance the storytelling aspects as well. The lighting, sound effects and level design are amazing. Hades combines an amazingly addictive rogue-like with a fantastic story and setting to boot. The choice of Greek Mythology is present with the costumes, weapon designs and every artefact at every level.
Hades achieves so much that many rogue-likes games want to accomplish and does it in an amazingly and thoroughly enjoyable way. The visuals are superb and every aspect is artistically rendered with a meticulous eye for detail. The use of Greek mythology sets the scene for the game as you battle your way out of the Underworld. The art style is lush, vibrant and dark amidst the background of the Underworld. It delivers an amazing story with fantastic voice acting. The story is intriguing and has the right amount of humour to enhance it even more. Every character looks stunning and the voice acting ties the story and gameplay together. The voice-overs are a masterstroke too, this helps elevate the storytelling. The game achieves a wonderful balance between being not forgiving but giving you enough bonus and power-ups for subsequent plays. You will die a lot but the game balance is fair and the more you play, the more persistent power up and perks you can use for the next run through. This is what a rogue-like should aim to achieve.
It’s undoubtedly my favourite rough-like dungeon crawler but it elevates itself above just being a dungeon crawler in my opinion. It’s amazing.