Hey! Hallie here!
‘Hades’ seems to be the game everyone has been talking about recently. Especially since the game was released for the Nintendo Switch. But this game has also chased many gamers away. After all, roguelike games are frustrating by nature. Roguelike games rely on the player having to start from the beginning when they die. No saving after you beat a boss. No being able to leave an area behind. If you lose to the final boss (and you will) you have to face all of the other bosses you’ve defeated before you get a retry. And even after you beat the final boss, the game encourages you to do so again, multiple times, in order to fully complete the story. So why is it getting so much attention? This was my first roguelike game and I recently beat the final boss for the first time after many, many, tries. Here’s why the game kept pulling me in without making me want to chuck my Switch through a wall.
Story and Characters: This game has a surprisingly in-depth story, with various subplots to explore as you play as well. All of these plots are heavily character driven. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades and Persephone, who has recently discovered that his father lied to him about who his mother is. With the knowledge that his mother is Persephone, and that she has mysteriously decided to reside solely aboveground, Zagreus decides to escape the underworld so that he can meet his mother. Zagreus is a fun character on his own but, having grown up in the underworld, he’s developed strong relationships with multiple famous figures from mythology. For example, his tutor and father-figure Achilles, his mother-figure Nyx, and even Cerberus, his childhood dog. Each character can be found within the House of Hades, which is the base you return to after you die. The only way to get to know these characters to the fullest extent is to constantly speak to them every time you return to the house, and even gift them with supplies you collect during each escape attempt. Doing so will unlock side quests and meaningful interactions with the characters. They also come in and out, so you never know who you’ll be able to see and who will be missing each time you return to the house. Not only that, but some characters will randomly appear while you’re out attempting to escape the underworld, and these characters are just as important. They often connect to characters inside the House of Hades, meaning it will take multiple escape attempts to correspond between the two characters. This is especially rewarding in cases like Achilles and Patroclus, who have been separated for a long time. There’s always something new to discover amongst the characters. Even amongst the Greek gods, who will offer you help during each run. And on top of all that, the character art is gorgeous. There’s nothing not to like!
The worry a lot of people have when it comes to roguelike games, is that it will feel like you started from the beginning each time you make another attempt at getting through the game. This isn’t true for ‘Hades’. Firstly, the gods that aid you during each escape attempt are different. So you might be greeted by Athena at the beginning of one run who will offer you a choice between defensive abilities. However, on the next run, Ares might greet you with some much more violent options to add to your arsenal. The areas you traverse through also change each escape attempt. You’ll enter different rooms in different orders, and the game will even allow you to choose which rooms you enter based on which reward you want. For example, if you’re in need of health you can choose a room that offers health, but if you want some coin to pay for more abilities to help you through the run, you can choose a room that offers you coin. Even before you start a new escape attempt the House of Hades will give you options to shake things up. Early on you’ll be given access to a mirror in your room. Go up to it, and the mirror will offer you various permanent upgrades to your character to ensure you’re stronger each time you decide to fight your way out of the underground. You’ll also unlock an entire arsenal of weapons to choose from as you play, all of which have permanent upgrades you can unlock. Sometimes a weapon will have a dark mist covering it, indicating it will offer more power for the next escape attempt if you choose to wield it. No two escape attempts are the same and there’s so much to unlock and upgrade that you can’t get bored.
Production: This game was highlighted by various gamers for one very important reason. The production of the game lacked crunch time. Often times when a large company announces a release date for a new game, it is far too soon. This leads to companies encouraging employees to work long hours with very little sleep in order to make the deadline, or crunch time. As always, when production is rushed and employees are sleep-deprived, the finished product isn’t anywhere near as good as it could be. It’s certainly not worth practically abusing employees over. Games like ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ were heavily criticized for using these methods to meet a deadline. ‘Hades’ avoided this entirely. The game was created gradually, with no definite release date. As a result, the game is amazing, it has plenty of quality content to keep gamers coming back, and employees were able to maintain their physical and mental health. With crunch time becoming the norm in big video game companies, it’s important to praise the games that were made without the added stress.
Obviously, I think ‘Hades’ is an extremely lovable game. As a Greek mythology fan, I appreciate all of the references in the game. But you don’t have to know mythology to appreciate the amazing character writing and the investing story. This game can be frustrating, as all games are. But it offers up so much that it isn’t monotonous. It’s definitely one of my favorite games I’ve played recently and I’d highly recommend it.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!