Hades | The review of the Xbox Series X | S

Hades | The review of the Xbox Series X | S

The dozens and dozens of awards earned by Hades, in the course of 2020, have already amply demonstrated how the latest production of Supergiant Games is a title that anyone should try at least once in their "videogame life". An Indie title that, like a new Leonidas, manages to scratch the aura of untouchability of a mammoth production such as The Last Of Us Part 2, jostling with the latter for the title of "game of the year" in every award ceremony of which we have memory.

The reasons for this success are to be found in Supergiant Games' ability to further refine the play structure proposed with Pyre, Transistor and Bastion. Although Hades is a roguelite, firmly anchored to the canons of the genre, its focus on narration and the perfect balance between its components make it a title suitable not only for lovers of the genre but also for those who appreciate action games, hack and slash and those productions with a strong focus on the narrative sector.

The cousin of the gods

Zagreus is the son of Hades, lord of the underworld and husband of Nyx. He spent his life within the walls of his father's abode, spending time in the company of the servants of Hades, the trusted Cerberus and a host of celebrities from the Greek Pantheon who, willy-nilly, found themselves serving the lord. of the underworld. But one night, the young Zagreus, browsing through his father's paperwork, discovers that Nyx is not his real mother and that his life, up to that moment, has been based on a deception.

Motivated to find his real mother, Zagreus tries to escape from the underworld to reach the surface. A journey as linear as it is difficult, as the four areas that divide the kingdom of Hades are populated by the latter's troops, ready to kick the young daredevil back home, forcing him to start his journey from the beginning. The young Zagreus, however, is not alone, the capricious gods of Olympus do their utmost to help him in his titanic undertaking, for reasons that we do not want to anticipate, promising to welcome him by their side once he has finally returned to the surface.

The narrative sector of Hades presents a very simple incipit and designed to launch the player in the heart of the action from the very first moments of the game. The plot, in fact, develops over the course of the various attempts that will be made by the player, introducing new lines of dialogue between the characters, flashbacks and new characters, whenever Zagreus finds himself, again, within the walls of the palace of Hades. The narrative, however, is not confined only to the large gaming hub but is a constant that surrounds every "run" of Hades.

The Olympians tell anecdotes about the protagonist's weapons, they exchange opinions one the other when they are encountered and constantly provide new food for thought to help understand the numerous subplots involving the various characters present in Hades. In the same way the enemies evolve and change according to the progress made by the player, just as the bosses change in the form, and in the attack patterns, following the progression of the game.

The real strength of the title of Supergiant Games lies precisely in this important factor: the very high focus on the narrative manages to make each run different from the previous one, until every element of the story is completely revealed. It will often happen that you can't wait to return to the palace of Hades to see how the relationships between the characters have changed and how the various characters set aside the "working" rivalries with Zagreus, showing a deep and well-implemented characterization of the latter. narrative plot.

To support the excellent narrative sector of Hades we find the highly inspired artistic direction of the now famous Jen Zee, who manages to characterize each character by making many details of the personality shine through, through only the aesthetic aspect. In the same way, the excellent soundtrack by Darren Korb, mixes Hellenic sounds and biting hard rock riffs in a lethal mix capable of galvanizing the player in every moment of the game. Finally, the English dubbing is performed in a superlative way, with an excellent translation of the texts into Italian to allow understanding of every aspect of Hades's story.

Fight, die, repeat!

Hades is a very immediate roguelite: you choose a weapon, launch yourself into the underworld, clean the rooms of any enemy present, collect a new power-up, or a new resource, and continue until you die , returning to the starting point. A formula as simple as it is subject to multiple risks such as repetition, frustration and the absence of a real sense of progression. Supergiant Games, however, has worked precisely on these three aspects, managing to create a perfectly balanced play structure.

First of all, progressing through the various rooms that make up the four areas of the underworld, constantly provides Zagreus with a random series of power-ups. and resources. Each time a new area is entered, the player will know which bonus he will find at the end but their distribution within the game will be completely random. This makes the combat system extremely varied and capable of transmitting an important sensation of novelty to each escape attempt. no matter which weapon you should hold, the gifts of the gods are able to upset the moveset, forcing the player to rethink their strategies in battle.

As per tradition for the genre, even in Hades some of the resources available during the various escape attempts will remain in Zagreus' pockets once he is dead. The essence of darkness allows you to improve the characteristics of the protagonist, providing him with some passive bonuses and improving his statistics. Resources such as nectar and ambrosia are used to consolidate the friendship between Zagreus and the various characters, who will give him items that provide passive bonuses; gems and diamonds are the bargaining chip to commission the renovations inside the palace of Hades, while the blood of titan is used to unlock the different forms of the six weapons present in Hades.

All these elements present in Hades, act on two important aspects: the sense of progression offered to the player and the absence of repetitiveness. Especially in the first hours of the game, the amount of information and possibilities offered by the Supergiant Games title encourages the player to play not only to reach the coveted surface but also to find resources, test new weapons, improve Zagreus's statistics and understand which gifts of the gods are closest to your style of play.

You soon find yourself planning carefully for what to try next: whether to collect resources of a certain type to upgrade Zagreus, whether to unlock new ones aspects of their weapons, find ambrosia to obtain items from the gods, and so on. Reaching the surface will soon become only one of the objectives that the player will set before starting a run, opening the doors to a variety of situations capable of making the perpetual repetition of the four game areas a mere outline to reach far more complex goals. and layered.

The focus on the narrative we mentioned earlier is emphasized in the first completion of a run by Hades. Reaching the surface for the first time is not the end but only the beginning. Once the first escape is successfully completed, the game changes further, opening up to numerous subplots and offering the player a renewed number of options, and modifiers, designed to vary many aspects of each game. The aim is always the same: to mix variety and storytelling to compensate for the risk of repetition, offering the player a constant sense of progression while remaining bound in a random maze of rooms and settings that are always the same.

Don't get us wrong, too, Hades. , like all exponents of the roguelite genre, sooner or later it shows its side to repetitiveness. The substantial difference is that the production of Supergiant Games reveals its Achilles heel after an impressive number of hours of gameplay and revealing a certain redundancy, and a vague hint of boredom, only once all the secrets hidden within it are revealed. .

If in terms of longevity it is really complex to quantify how many hours Hades can keep busy (precisely by virtue of the numerous random aspects that characterize each game), when we analyze the level of difficulty of the production of Supergiant Games we understand fully why it is called, on several occasions, a "roguelite for all". The combat system is immediate, easy to learn and difficult to master. Perfect for guaranteeing immediate entertainment and stimulating the player to improve himself, run after run, or to get used to a certain type of weapon.

The possibility of gradually enhancing some aspects of Zagreus also allows less practical players of the genre, to undertake a path made up of constant attempts to improve one's character to reach, at least once, the coveted surface. The God and Pact of Penalty modes, finally, guarantee anyone both to finish the game without major difficulties, and to artificially increase its difficulty, introducing a series of penalties designed to make each game more and more complex and difficult to complete. br>

Hades on Xbox Series X

After the excellent, albeit not without flaws, version for Nintendo Switch released in 2020, we had a lot of expectations towards this conversion for Sony and Microsoft consoles. Unfortunately, although the technical realization is excellent, there are some small burrs here and there that do not make it the "best version available" in which we so much hoped. In terms of content, the versions of Hades for Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Playstation 5 do not differ from the edition released for Nintendo Switch in September 2020.

The most noticeable changes of this Hades conversion , in fact, are the presence of objectives and trophies and the inconceivable absence of shared bailouts, present instead in the counterparts for PC and Nintendo Switch. If you are one of those players who wanted to resume the adventure from a previous version of the title, unfortunately you will not be able to do so and you will be forced to start your adventure from the beginning.

Technically speaking the version for Xbox Series X behaves very well : 60 fps granitic, resolution in 4k, responsive controls and no case, even sporadic, of input lag or jamming of any kind. We noticed a small bug regarding the achievement of the objectives, most likely generated by the fact that the title is not yet officially available, but this is nothing transcendental, simply at each start of the game all the achievements obtained in the session were unlocked of the previous game.

We found another small flaw in some game screens, in this case the initial menu and some interludes at the beginning of the game, which strangely remained at a lower resolution than the rest of the production . A minor detail but that slightly clashes with the visual rendering of the rest of the work and that it would have been unfair not to point out at the end of this analysis.

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