Hades: what makes it a special game

Hades: what makes it a special game


Supergiant Games' latest work, Hades, has racked up awards left and right over the past few months. Here you can read our review for Nintendo Switch: it is a roguelite that has struck us since early access, and that has reconfirmed its extraordinary qualities also on the hybrid console of the big N, for which it will be released in a packaged version on March 19th. . After playing it for over 100 hours, and realizing that there would still be a lot to do before finally archiving it, we stopped to reflect on the features that made it so special in the eyes of thousands of players. In short, if you haven't played Hades yet, the next few lines could convince you to give him the opportunity he absolutely deserves.

The Art Direction

Despite being set in the hellish depths of Greek mythology, Hades is a triumph of bright colors, quirky characters and sharp jokes. The Supergiant Games guys have carefully designed each scenario, protagonist or enemy so that it does not appear too gloomy, but rather cartoonish, and at the same time perfectly integrated into the atmospheres evoked by the plot, the context and the dialogues. The result is there for all to see. Hades is really nice to see at first glance: the isometric view collects a lot of details in a single glance, the 3D cel-shaded models are meticulously animated, the effects of attacks and skills are spectacular but sober and the gameplay reads that it is a marvel thanks to the clean and elegant interface. But Hades is also nice to listen to: Darren Korb's music constantly accompanies the action with an energizing rhythm, and there is also room for some good songs. The real protagonists of the technical sector, however, we must say that they are the dialogues that touch the ASMR: the voice actors have made a real magic with the voices of the various characters, which characterize them as much as the background and the subplots that bind them.

The story

Hades: Zagreus is the protagonist. It is difficult to separate the winning characteristics of Hades, as they intertwine and interpenetrate into a whole, but if we are to find one that really impressed us it could only be the plot. Yes, Hades is a roguelite with a plot. The genre has often used it as a pretext to justify the gameplay, but in Hades the story is what motivates the player to play one game after another. Those of Supergiant Games have sipped it, sowing dialogues, notes in the Codex, secondary missions and subplots that are revealed in random order as the player overcomes new challenges, tries new combinations of weapons and powers, reaches new goals. Virtually every gameplay content in Hades has a subplot behind it that intersects with the others, but the best part is that the story being told, while revolving around Hellenic gods, demigods and myths, remains of a heart-warming humanity and normality. .

Hades: the statuary goddess Athena. Hades, ultimately, is the story of a son trying to put his family back together. He is not the first nor the last man on Earth to see an entire family split and torn by misunderstandings and quarrels, and the fact that half of his family tree of him lives on Mount Olympus doesn't really make much difference. The motivations that push the characters to find a resolution are told with a skill and a simplicity that we have rarely found in a market where it is competing to see who invents the most bizarre twist. And then there are all the supporting actors, with their storylines that often sink their hands into Greek mythology. In his attempts to escape from the Underworld, the protagonist Zagreus will have the opportunity to reunite lost couples, redeem the honor of some prisoners and even find love on his own. And maybe more than one, if you play enough. Supergiant Games takes some heroes of the Hellenic myth, such as Achilles or Orpheus, and represents them under different lights than usual, but always respectfully and with a touch of irony that never hurts.

The gameplay

Hades: a fight in Tartarus. Hades is a roguelite, and it doesn't rain on that, but it's the captivating and fragmented story that motivates the player, pushing him into the "I'll play another game" loop that can stretch for hours and hours without even realizing it. . A complete game of Hades, including the last boss defeated, once mastered the game can last even less than 20 minutes, while at the beginning it takes as many just to escape from the first of the four floors that make up the map in its entirety. The procedural structure - the order of the rooms is significantly different in each game - and the randomness that distinguishes the discovery of the Olympic gifts, that is, the upgrades that will change our style of play, makes each escape seem different from the previous one. The parameters that affect the gameplay are many, starting with the powers of the Mirror of the Night and the choice of the weapon: there are six, and for each there are four different "semblants", for an effective total of twenty-four different weapons.

Hades: the ferry in the Asphodel Fields. The gifts of the gods are many and change the way of fighting, inducing the player to make a virtue of necessity with the cards in his hand: with a little strategy, and a pinch of imagination, it is possible to put together unsuspected combinations that often they deviate from the strategies we have mentally imposed on ourselves, leading us to discover completely different fighting styles. You can start a game with the sword, intending to enhance its damage with the gifts of Artemis, and finish it off by firing darts that throw enemies against the walls thanks to the gifts of Poseidon. Virtually every combination of weapons and gifts is subject to the scrutiny of gods and inhabitants of the Underworld, who in some cases will not fail to comment on our choices, also offering us useful clues not only on the narrative, but also on the gameplay. In short, every game is a discovery and the dynamism of the combat system, which boasts many different enemies, traps and bosses, helps to make a title that, by its nature, should be less repetitive.


Hades: the Elysian Fields. And perhaps here lies the greatest strength of Hades: it is a roguelite that almost never tires. Each game is significant; whether it lasts three minutes or thirty, you always bring home something that can be pure and simple experience or maybe Darkness, one of the many currencies needed to unlock, well, everything. To discover the whole story you have to finish the game at least ten times, and to maximize any relationship between Zagreus and the various gods or supporting actors you have to play even more, dissect every weapon, fulfill every prophecy - practically the secondary missions - and become better and better at pass the trials in the Pact of Penalty. Hades is a challenging game, but above all else it's a game for everyone. You can play at a lower difficulty level than the default and further calibrate it with each game, choosing advantages and disadvantages.

Hades: the clash with Theseus and the Minotaur. The ease with which it is possible to take the game in hand and dedicate even just a little time at a time makes it particularly ideal for portable use on the Nintendo Switch, but if you prefer to play it on the TV you can always put the console in the Dock or use the cross-save system to play a little on PC and a little on the hybrid console ... as long as you have both versions of Hades, of course. Once the story is complete, and really seen all that the narrative has to offer, there is still a load of content to unlock: furniture for Hades's office, background music to buy for Orpheus, frames to decorate the interface during the fights and more. It is in this way that they easily exceed the hundred hours and even exceed them, but we cannot be hypocrites: at a certain point, Hades will get bored. Going back every now and then will always be fun, but without a story it won't be the same to stimulate us. But if by then you have given it even just the time it takes to see the real credits, you will have played one of the best roguelites on the square that is simply ridiculously cheap. And that makes it even more special.

Hades: the physical version coming out for Nintendo Switch

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