Hades starts with the son of Hades, Zagreus who is fighting to leave the underworld and must travel through his father’s kingdom to gain his freedom. Much like most Roguelites the concept of Hades is deceptively simple.
But before long players will fail in their quest, and pass on. Zagreus will then be sent to the House of Hades. From there, players can start interacting with the court of Hades. After the first run, the House of Hades will be a little empty. There’s, of course, Hades and Cerberus his faithful hound. Players will also see Achillies and a goddess named Nyx, as well as Hypnos, who is Nyx’s offspring. Over time, more characters will appear.
If it’s not obvious by that, Hades is based on the Greek Pantheon of Gods and through that gives the player a chance to not only be the son of Hades but also able to interact and meet with many of the famous figures in Greek Mythology. While many gods show up, such as Zeus, Poseidon, and Athena, there are also famous figures in Greek Mythology, such as Theseus and Sisyphus.
When these characters show up, Hades will also provide some interactions. Every character in Hades has small discussions with Zagerus and there’s always something for them to talk about. Whether it be story elements of their life or their appearance in-game, to Zagerus exploits, to even what Zagerus is currently doing.
A story in a rogue-lite sounds like a minor feature, but in Hades, it’s actually a very strong and central part of the experience. The characters in Hades are from Greek Mythology but they also have a lot to say and contribute to the overarching narrative. While this is still a rogue-lite where players are intended to play through, die and repeat, Hades also has a reason for these actions as well as characters I found myself caring about.
Just beating the game once also doesn’t end the story, but instead adds to a complex narrative where several characters and situations are playing out at the same time. It’s part of what kept me coming back after my first win, but it’s also what keeps me interested each time a character shows up just to see what they might say this time. The story is such a strong part of the game that after fifty hours or so, there’s still a lot of content and even an epilogue that I was working towards.
The story will only go so far, especially in a rogue-lite. Rogue-lites are intended to be played multiple times over and over while players work towards a goal and in this, Hades excels.
Hades works like many games where players are expected to dodge attacks and strike back at enemies. Players can take one of six weapons into the dungeon on each run, and each of the six weapons has its own style. The sword is the most aggressive of the group but also contains a special attack that will push back enemies. The Spear allows players to throw the spear and have it return to the player’s hands, with both actions damaging enemies. The Bow, Gun, and Fists act as you might expect, however, my personal favorite weapon is the Shield which feels like something from Captain America including an ability to throw the shield and have it ricochet off multiple enemies.
Hades is broken up into rooms as players progress through areas, and each room will reward the player with an item at the end of a battle. Each battle is both challenging but also well-paced as to not become completely overwhelming, giving players a choice of what reward comes in the next room helps to give the player some agency as they move through the dungeon.
Players will often run into the gods of Olympus as they progress through the dungeon, and each one will bestow a boon on Zagreus. These amount to upgrades which will usually increase Zagerus’ power, or provide some benefit to help him survive the dungeon. There’s also the hammer upgrades that will change how each weapon works in a minor way. Players will seek out these sets of upgrades as they make their way through the dungeon in the hope of getting strong enough to reach the end.
However, once a run is over, all these upgrades are removed, and Zagerus must enter the dungeon fresh once more. Yet, there are still rewards to be had and permanent upgrades to obtain through currencies found in the dungeon, such as darkness and a mirror that will allow Zagerus to unlock upgrades which will also increase his survival rate.
Through a combination of learning the game, unlocking mirror upgrades, and getting boons, players will make progress through Hades underworld over and over. And perhaps reach the final boss, maybe even triumphing over it.
I actually accomplished this around my 25th run, and even after I’ve played at least 70 runs, I went back and tried the game from scratch and it’s still relatively hard. Hades isn’t a game about just rote memory or a focus on perfecting the game, but rather a game about watching your character grow, become more powerful and one day accomplishes the unthinkable.
And even after that point, Hades isn’t done, and instead gives the player more to chase. Whether it’s a new challenge for your favorite weapon, which Hades provides in a difficulty mode called the Pact of Punishment where players have to choose optional challenges to increase the “heat level” to earn more rewards, or different weapons there’s always something new to do, and the random factor means no two runs ever feel the same.
But there’s also something magical about Hades’ difficulty, where it never gets too easy, but it also never is so challenging players feel like they aren’t making progress. While there are challenges, Hades is a welcome breath of fresh air. It’s a game that’s both satisfying to rogue-lite fans and fans who are new to the genre.
Hades is also remarkably addictive to the point where I’ve struggled to put it down. It’s a game where I constantly want to play one more round and suddenly it’s 3 AM and I missed my bedtime by a couple of hours. This didn’t happen once or twice, but rather multiple times in the same week and then again on the following week.
Even after beating the game, this addictive quality of it has yet to dissipate, and for a twenty-five dollar game that I’ve already put over fifty hours into, that’s a very good sign, in fact, that’s what I expect from an amazing Rogue-lite.
But there’s one last fact that really makes Hades shine to me. I struggle to really find an issue with Hades. The gameplay is extremely tight and engaging. There’s both a huge challenge and a welcoming nature to the game (including a god mode that will make Hades progressively easier if necessary). There’s a story that keeps me interested in the game, but also gameplay that makes me sometimes skip the story just to get to the next big fight. There are amazing moments of triumph and success and even when I fail, I want to return to the fight as soon as possible, because that feeling of progression is still there even when my run is cut short.
The thing is Hades is just brilliant, and it’s a game I would recommend to everyone. This is a game not to be missed, and honestly, Supergiant deserves accolades for this title. While Bastion was amazing, this is almost certainly their best game yet, and that’s a very high bar.
If it’s not clear, then allow my arbitrary scale to make it so. Hades has earned a
This is as close to perfection as games can get, and honestly, this is incredible.
Check Hades out, you won’t be disappointed.
If you want to see more about Hades, or it compared directly to Dead Cells, check my video which is available at