Release Date: September 17, 2020
Platform Played On: Switch
2018 Placement: Unranked
What It Is:
Supergiant’s foray into the roguelike genre, Hades is an action brawler where you play as Zagreus and try to escape your father, the lord of Hell. Supergiant’s art style is very distinctive and it makes Hades into a beautiful game where you fight against all sorts of mythical monsters and demons as you try to escape to the overworld. You have a choice between six different legendary weapons and you’re gifted boons by the gods on Olympus that change your play style significantly, so every run you make towards the top will go a bit differently.
What Hades adds to the roguelike genre is meaningful story. The repetition of live, die, go again in roguelikes is not often accompanied by much plot or explanation as to why you’re just doing it over and over again. Zagreus “dying” and respawning in the central location of Hades is weaved into the actual narrative. Each time you return to the base of operations, you can have new conversations with the characters hanging about. But they’re not always there, giving the world of Hades a living, breathing feeling like they aren’t just NPCs waiting around to spout out the next bit of dialogue for you. And every time you die you get just a bit stronger and gain a bit more knowledge of how to progress further, which adds more characters to the roster of interesting people to talk to.
Why It’s Important To Me:
I love roguelikes, but I don’t complete non-deck building roguelikes a lot. I’ve beaten Dead Cells once, Binding of Isaac two or three times, I’ve gotten to the final level of Enter the Gungeon, and others like Rogue Legacy I didn’t even get that far. But Hades was a game that just grabbed me and didn’t let go. I think I’ve said it before during this countdown, but I’m a huge mythology nerd and Greek mythology is one of my favorites. So hearing dialogue from Poseidon and Aphrodite, seeing Zagreus interact with Orpheus and Eurydice, getting to pet Cerberus as much as I wanted; all of it was just a straight shot of happy chemicals into my brain.
The setting was what hooked me, and the gameplay was the line and sinker. Every time I finished a run in Hades, my immediate thought was (and still is) “just one more time.” Grabbing a different weapon and hoping for a new, cooler boon combination was always a dangling carrot to get me to start another run immediately. Every time I unlocked a cool new play style and began to rip through my foes was pure serotonin. I’ve beaten this game 26 times (out of a total of 87 escape attempts) on my Switch, and I’ve already put in 10+ attempts on the PS5 now as I work my way up to being strong enough to smack daddy Hades around again. It’s so compelling and scratches an itch all other action-based roguelikes almost scratched, but not quite.
My Strongest Memory:
The first time beating Hades, of course. There’s a moment in the battle when the TRUE final boss theme kicks in (and all players who have gotten this far know what I’m talking about) and by GOD that was such a cool, musical moment. It literally sent chills down my spine and adrenaline coursing through my veins. I don’t think I’ve had anywhere close to a “okay, HERE WE GO THIS IS IT LET’S DO THIS” moment in any video game since.
Then there’s the time you get the “final” ending and the song that plays during the credits sequence and how beautiful it is.
Of course there’s also the first time I got to the Hydra and Zagreus called her “Lernie” and the name changed on her health bar, which made me die laughing.
There’s the absolute bro-ness of Asterius and the absolute dipshittery of Theseus.
Every moment in this game is so well-crafted that I could talk about them all, honestly.
Why It’s #26:
The third game in the trilogy of “not sure if recency bias” in the lower 20s, I can once again assure you that it was not recency bias in the slightest. Picking up the game last week for my PS5 and jumping back in again (from the beginning with a fresh start) was like coming home. Yeah, I’m experiencing the same story beats a second time, but the beauty of the roguelike genre is that every run still feels good even if you’re seeing the story for a second time. There’s no boring 3-hour tutorial I have to wade through. It’s just back to boons and kicking ass and being a little horny for all the characters. What, you’d think I’d make it through an entire entry on Hades and not mention how hot all the gods are? Psh. Who do you think I am?