“Hades” advances roguelike genre


By Matthew Shanbom, Editor-in-Chief

“Hades,” the newest game by developer and publisher Supergiant Games brings a new twist to the roguelike genre by intertwining a rich story inspired by Greek mythology.

For those unfamiliar, a roguelike involves a gameplay loop where the player continually completes the same basic actions in a randomized design.

The game focuses on Zagreus, the son of god of the dead Hades. Zagreus often expresses disdain for his father and wishes to escape his father’s domain and reach the surface.

The core gameplay focuses on these escape attempts which include randomized chambers filled with enemies and rewards including help from Olympians such as Zeus, Artemis and Ares. 

This help known as a boon lasts only one escape attempt and can boost various stats such as attack damage and knockback. Each time the player receives a boon, there is a randomized line of dialogue which, while it does not always pertain to the main story, helped me become more invested in the Olympians as characters, learning more about some than I had in all my years of school.

Another chamber reward is known as darkness, and carries over between escape attempts. Darkness allows the player to purchase permanent upgrades to their character before runs allowing the player to make it farther through the underworld each attempt. This switch from a pure roguelike kept me motivated longer, because progression not only scaled based on improving my skill, but also the base abilities of Zagreus.

After some escape attempts, Zagreus finds out Nyx, whom he believed to be his mother his entire life, was not his mother. Instead, his mother was an Olympian in hiding, Persephone. Zagreus makes it his mission to find his mother on the surface and bring her back to the underworld. This motivation captivated me as each time I failed an attempt, I could talk to characters such as Hades, Nyx and Achilles and find out more about Persephone further deepening the story.

While the original goal may have been to escape, the game is only starting when you escape the underworld for the first time. Each time you escape, the story progresses until the credits eventually roll. The credits came at about 40 hours of gameplay for me but can vary based on player skill and pace. Beyond the main story, there is extra story content to keep the player engaged in the game.

Beyond this extra story content, the game remains fun to play with the newly unlocked pact of punishment which allows players to increase the difficulty level in 15 ways. Additionally, the game encourages speedrunning through a built in timer. The commitment to making a game that stays fun beyond the main story shows and Supergiant games should be proud.

I can’t review “Hades” without acknowledging the excellent soundtrack composed by Darren Korb. I found myself hooked, listening to songs like “In the Blood” and “Good Riddance” on repeat after hearing them for the first time. The entire soundtrack is available on streaming platforms such as Spotify, allowing for easy listening without having to even open the game.

“Hades” perfectly combines gameplay and story to a point where neither feels tedious. My only gripe with the game is that after many escape attempts, you may feel as though certain chambers become repetitive as there is only a limited number of chamber designs.

“Hades” is available on PC, Mac and Nintendo switch for $25.

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