Played on the PS5
Roughly 10 months ago, Supergiant Games unleashed hell with Hades, a roughlite masterclass that took the gaming world by storm. Hades was limited to just Steam and Nintendo Switch at the time, but it is now on its way to PlayStation and Xbox with “Game of the Year” slapped on the box art. As a super-fan of Supergiant Games with projects like Transistor and Bastion, I decided to wait for a potential console version of Hades because I wanted to earn that beautiful Platinum like I did with their previous games. Now that it’s here and after spending several dozen hours of gameplay with about 40 escape attempts, Hades is by far one of the pinnacle games in its genre. Supergiant’s wild attempt to blend core elements from different genres into Hades has proven to mix exceptionally well, to the point that it makes it nearly impossible to put down.
Welcome to Hell, Enjoy Your Stay!
Hades is centered around Greek mythology, where you’ll control….well, Hades’ coming of age son, Zagreus, in an attempt to escape Hell. With its colorful and excellently voice acted cast of characters, you’ll be slicing through hordes of incredibly animated enemies with 6 unique weapons having 4 variants and a slew of combinations to work with, while dying a lot in the process – only to realize that the world shifts with every attempt with each person and enemy remembering your failures. That is the premise of Hades, one that evokes interaction to further benefit the player with plot and gameplay elements.
Again, you will be dying, a lot, and with every return to home base with everything lost. Well, you do keep some things you find with each attempt to incrementally boost your characters overall power. Upon every death, whether its from a trap or a boss fight, the characters in Hades such as Achilles or the ever-so-timid Dusa, will remember how you died, how often you died and where you died; and occasionally get mocked by your own father – worst dad of the year award for sure.
I was surprised by the sheer dynamic of the conversations available, revealing a bunch of back story that would otherwise be missed by extremely skilled players – would you believe that? Interacting with your friends (and foes) has an option to gift as well, which would net you some powerful passives called Keepsakes. Each Keepsake has boons like extra life or higher rare drops. But, even with its large array of boons, I still find myself going for extra life, because….the game is brutal.
You’ll Die Only to Get Stronger
Hades offers 6 weapons to choose from, each would unlock the more you progress through the game. Each weapons carries 4 variants to play with – and depending on your builds, your gameplay experience would vary greatly from each player. Due to the nature of this game, risk is the focus factor to your success – and if you survive, huge rewards would come your way. However, the world shifts randomly, leaving the player relying on fate. It’s fitting given the thematic approach of Hades and, due to the wildly rewarding death loop, you almost welcome it because of the elements ahead.
When attempting a run, you’re thinking about focus building to survive not the first stage, but later ones as each enemy is entirely different. Core mechanics like critical hits, back stabs and over-shield plays a huge role, and with each cleared zone, you have a choice to upgrade your build in different ways. By default you have dash to dodge enemies and let me tell you, nothing is more satisfied than dodging a well timed attack and one-shotting a powerful foe with a build you worked hard to make. Another gameplay mechanic is Cast – Zagreus’ magic that weakens enemies when hit – and just like your attacks, Cast can be altered with the powers of your Aunts and Uncles such as Ares, Zeus, Athena and more. This sounds like it can make your runs easier, but it doesn’t and always prepare for that.
The Beauty of Dying
Supergiant Games handcrafted design is beyond beautiful. On the PS5, 4K resolution at 60fps has this game looking gorgeous when maneuvering through hordes of the dead – the architectural design, the foregrounds environmental placements and incredibly sharp textures really brings this game to life. Every single enemy is beautifully designed and animated with 2D/3D frame work. The effects on each ability is flashy and smooth, without a doubt Hades is pure eye-candy. My only gripe is the hexagonal bloom on abilities and other designs which can be distracting to me (as an illustrator, I notice these things and sometimes it takes me out of admiring their work.)
Hades is a rougelite that should be experienced by everyone – one that I look forward to attempt my escape for a very long time. After sneak peaking through the Trophies, I see that there’s an Epilogue I haven’t touched which baffles the mind. Supergiant Games has yet again hit a home run.
REVIEW SCORE: 10/10
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