Hades Game Review: If Doom and Greek mythology had a baby

Andrew Bourn

Imagine climbing a ramp that’s expected of traps, bombs, lava, giant bone hydra that happen to be fireproof, and a brigade of angry spirits that are out to reset your progress of reaching the top despite knowing you would come back swinging. That’s the premise of the 2020 video game titled Hades by Supergiant Games who made past action-RPG games such as Pyre and Bastion. 

The game Hades begins with Zagerous escaping from his father, Hades, to journey upward to the surface in pursuit of freedom and answers for his missing birthmother. Hades, God of the Underworld, didn’t like this rebellious nature of his son and does everything in his power to stop Zagerous, summoning every entity and servant of the underworld to do so. Zagerous’s notable action and being a surprise relative to the family was heard amongst the Gods of Olympus that they began to send aid and boons to their newfound relative.  

The plot of Hades is relatively simple and basic but it doesn’t take away the charming and quippy nature it establishes for itself throughout. The story isn’t explicitly told to you with numerous boring pre-rendered cutscenes or cryptic messages on the walls that you need to search on Reddit. The dialogue as well as the short narrative texts leave just enough for you to piece together the plot and crack a smile along with it.

Stylish PC roguelike 'Hades' heads to Switch this fall | EngadgetEach character feels, sounds, and even looks authentic to their Greek mythology of old. It’s a fun reinterpretation of fleshing out the personality of the gods and goddesses that fit true to its lore like Hades himself being utmost intimidating and demanding when speaking to anyone. Another is Hermes, who talks fast as lightning with jokes that land fast as they arrive. There is also Artemis who is judgmental, yet focuses her remarks on your fighting skills with a bit of sass.

Because it’s a roguelike game, you don’t spend an equal amount of time with each character since every game session differs. In the total of the 15 hours that I had put in already, I hardly ever meet Zeus or Poseidon despite me searching in vain for them, but I have met Ares and Artemis more times than anyone else.

Like many roguelike games, Hades has randomly generated dungeons that change with every new game session and you can narrow down your own specific playstyle with six different weapons with three upgrade paths. This makes every session and chamber you enter unique and it’s rewarding when you are adaptable and flexible to what cards the game gives you to kinder to a specific playstyle you never intended at the start. 

However, the game does have its low points. One of those being the enemies that you go against.  After playing for a bit you will notice that the enemies are all practically the same, repetitive, and predictable. Enemy varieties are just enough to bear through in one realm of the entire underworld before progressing upward and they are all different in terms of aesthetic and combat that none seems redundant with the exception of the Wretched Witch that spews more and more fireballs at you and differs little in appearance. To reach the surface or at least completing your goal for Zagerous would take around 15-20 hours but to be at least thorough and complete with Hades story and collectibles will definitely take more than 40 hours or so to get done.

How to Make Hades Easier - Hades Wiki Guide - IGN

The difficulty of the game is unchangeable as it is only normal and hell mode. It may seem difficult at first playing on normal mode but because you get progressively more powerful and learn the AI behavior, it’s actually quite easy even on a second playthrough, since it doesn’t have New Game +. Combat is fair most of the time and mainly at your own fault if you create a blundered movement or predict incorrectly what the next chamber will be. There’s a lot of high-risk-reward situations that Hades offers, throwing curveballs when you ask for a curveball, most of the time, that goes a long way of becoming powerful enough to decimate an enemy in seconds.

The soundtracks are so astronomical that it wouldn’t be a mistake to call it the cousin of Mick Gordon’s Doom soundtrack. It’s not exactly like Doom, but it has its own style of badassness to slay your way out of Hell with a bit of Halloween, tribalist, and rock into the mix.

For $25, a soundtrack like this that comes with a free roguelike game alongside it is a deal that’s worth buying. To people that want a fresh take on slaying through hell, Hades is a spectacularly charming game to try out as there are little bugs and dull moments that could ruin the experience of a roguelike game. It’s a fun and action-packed take on Greek mythology that’s full of personality and style.

Game Score

Excellent 90/100

Recommendation

A Must Buy 5/5