Review Written By: Michelle Lynn Tackett
2020 was a breakout year for indie games that reached new levels of mainstream acceptance. Among Us, Ori and Fall Guys have been huge, but there is one game that has gotten a lot of GOTYs, sold great and critical praise. That game is Hades. The question is, is Hades that good? Read on and find out.
Hades is a rogue-like game with innovative twists to the formula. Rogue games are games in which the goal is to die and start over to get better weapons and get stronger. Hades puts a spin on this concept by adding RPG elements into the mix. Upgrading your weapons, health, and armor makes a difference. You aren’t wasting your time by revisiting the underworld. There is a reward for replaying the levels. This puts some rogue games to shame for how well it is implemented.
When you eventually die, you’ll start over and spend currency (like darkness and keys) to get more energy, power up your weapons, and unique attributes that will help the player navigate the underworld a little easier. Zagreus will run into other Greek Gods like Zeus and Aphrodite, who will offer him different powers, and upgrades to make his journey easier.
Breezy color pallets and crisp art style make Hades’s world pop with personality. Unique world designs give each room a fresh feel. You never get tired of looking at the gorgeous vistas. You will want to pause the game to look at the small details packed into each scene. You can tell the developers have a love of Greek lore and architecture. No detail goes unnoticed. The rooms change each time you play through it. That sets Hade’s design philosophy apart from other rogue games. Hades is a looker. The smooth framerate keeps the action humming along nicely.
Every level, room, and character has a unique look and feel. Super Giant games gave Hades a sparkling look that translates well in portable or docked mode. The performance is solid, with a few dips here and there, but nothing that affects gameplay. The resolution is locked in at 1080p docked and 720p handheld. It runs like a dream on Nintendo’s hybrid. Giant Bomb did a great job optimizing Hades for the Switch.
The audio is crisp and energetic. Each bullet, sword hit, or arrow hit feels impactful. The voice acting is fantastic. Characters sparkle with emotions and personality. They don’t seem like polygons, but real characters.
The music is rocking and energetic. The boss themes go heavy metal, while rooms with little challenge feel calmer. The music switches gears depending on the intensity and situation. Attention to details like this helps Hades set the appropriate mood. Some games ignore how important the use of music is. It isn’t enough to pick a cool tune, it is how the music is used that makes the music work.
Combat is the star of Hades. Each weapon has its advantages and disadvantages. The gloves are more powerful but have a limited range. The bow and arrow are the opposite. The fun is figuring out which upgrades work the best with your weapon of choice, and which weapon upgrades feel right for you. There are tons of boons and weapon upgrades to give your weapon its unique flavor. One player can have the sword, but use it is nothing like another player who uses the word differently. Versatility is Hades’ strength.
Gods from Olympus will help you with temporary upgrades but purchasing upgrades through darkness will give you permanent upgrades. From more life to the ability to make your weapons stronger or rely on magic. It is all up to you. Chose which style you want, to help you on your adventure. You can go more defensive or offensive. Keep your weapon in mind when you get temporary or permanent upgrades. It will make a difference in how well you do in the game. Giving the Gods drinks and talking to them will open up more powerful upgrades in magic and your weapons.
Zagreus, is the prince of the underworld, tries to find out what happened to Persephone (his mother), so he must get past traps, puzzles, enemies, and tough bosses to reach Persephone and find out what happened to her. Zagreus’s fortitude and determination make you root for him to get to his mother.
The story moves along at a nice pace with layers of human touches to it. The player cares about his struggle to find out what happened to his mother. The story answers a lot of questions while leaving answers open for a sequel. Here’s hoping there is a sequel.
Once you pick a weapon in Hades, you are stuck with it. If the spear isn’t to your liking, you’ll have to get killed so you can start over and choose another weapon. While it is fun to mix and match different weapons and upgrades together. Not being able to switch weapons mid-game is frustrating since you have to go back to the beginning to change weapons. The upside is, you can change upgrades by selling the upgrades you don’t want.
There should have been more than 4 worlds in Hades. Yes, the levels change to keep it fresh, but the journey to fight Hades is short. That doesn’t ruin the game, but it would’ve been nice to explore the underworld more.
Hades obliterates other Rogue-like games with a world you want to revisit, characters you want to get to know better, and help them out when they need help. I don’t dread going back to replay the game again. It is a joy to meet these familiar faces and help them with any problem they have.
Tons of weapon upgrades, attributes, likable characters, silky smooth action, fluid gameplay, and innovative touches to the rogue genre. Hades is a grand slam in game design that puts most so-called AAA games to shame. No loot boxes, microtransactions, or other bugs to bog down the experience. One of the best indie games I’ve ever played. You owe it to yourself to get hades. It is incredible.
Hades is available on physical, or download on the Nintendo Eshop, and Steam.
Hades is $24.99
Photo Courtesy of: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/hades-switch/