What else can you possibly say about Hades?
Since its launch into early access, few games in recent times have garnered such unconditional love from players, and such reverence from those in the games industry. Developer Supergiant is now at the stage where it uses Game of the Year awards to prop up shoogly desks, such was the avalanche of acclaim Hades received in 2020.
At the end of last year, I was asked by Andy Robinson of VGC to write about Supergiant, whom VGC were awarding their “Studio of the Year”. In that piece I said:
“Even if Hades wasn’t a fantastic game, Supergiant would still be the developer of the year. If anything, the fact that for many people it’s their game of the year should be proof that you can produce excellence without sacrificing the health of your staff.” – Me, VGC.
I think that’s a large part as to why people were so effusive towards the game. Whereas a game like The Last of Us Part 2 was also showered with awards, the circumstances over the creation of that game and the allegations of difficult working conditions left a stain on what should have been a flawless awards cycle for the title. On the other hand, thanks to the fantastic Noclip documentary created by friend of the site Danny O’Dwyer, the public got an insight into the creation of the game from its announcement, all the way up until IGN gave it Game of the Year.
For those who’re somehow unaware, Hades is a roguelike game in which you play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, who in a fit of rebellion so potent you’d assume he frequents The Cathouse, decides to leave Hell and make his way up to Olympus, where things are much cooler and he won’t even have a bedtime or nothing.
As Hades follows my own fathers’ parenting style of attrition and learning through failure, making it out of the depths of Hell is a tricky task. However, you’re not alone, as after every few rooms you’ll be gifted a new power by one of your deified aunties and uncles, like they’ve just sneaked you a fiver and told you to not tell yer da.
Whereas other roguelike games enjoy killing you purely for the sake of driving the sales of new controllers through the roof after you smash yours to bits, Hades takes each death as an opportunity to dish out some new plot. Likely in anticipation of just how often you’d be getting your teeth kicked in, there is a lot of story to uncover. I can’t imagine what the experience of playing this game would be like for the lunatic that manages to finish it in one run. That would be like instead of reading a book you’re interested in, having someone describe the Amazon listing to you, in a different language.
The combat is melee focussed, with each run beginning with you choosing from a selection of weapons. Another thing this game does incredibly well is that every single weapon is viable. Due to the number of perks and powers you’ll receive along your travels, it’s practically impossible to find yourself in a situation where you aren’t a viable threat. I’ve finished the game with all but one weapon, and believe me, getting a win with the bow is my only goal left in life. Each time round I’ve felt like I’ve discovered the overpowered combination when in fact, the game is just superbly balanced.
The art style is almost insultingly good. It feels like you’re being stunted on every time you enter a new room or meet a new God. Hades is one of the few games that I’d buy an art book for, and not let it just accumulate more dust than a Wii U. The music is incredible, and regularly provides my soundtrack for trudging round the supermarket, because if I need to do the weekly shop, I might as well burst my eardrums with imposing guitars and relentless drums.
This latest release of Hades sees it finally land on the PlayStation and Xbox after far too long. As someone who bought the game the day it entered Early Access on Epic Games Store, as I would trust Supergiant with my life, and then again on Nintendo Switch, because, again, I would trust Supergiant with my life, completing the set and picking up the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions was a no brainer. The latter of the two, at the time of writing, is included in Xbox Game Pass. Both versions run at 4K, with a frame rate so solid you could build a house on it. If you’re playing on PS5, the DualSense controller will do a wee rumble when you go to pet the three headed dog, finally answering the question “Why buy a PS5?”.
Hades is a spectacular game that has finally received the definitive console versions it deserves. I have nothing but unending love for Hades and for Supergiant as a studio. I feel like my appreciation grows for Hades every time I play, or even think about it. It’s a masterclass in design, art, music, horniness, everything. If you’ve never tried it, I implore you to download it, and give it a try. They very rarely make them quite like this.