Indie veteran Supergiant Games recently release its brand-new isometric, action RPG rogue-like, Hades into the world of early access and the results have been nothing short of titanic – like the mythological giants, not the boat with a severe weakness to ice. Within this article, I will be sharing my first impression of Hades and, let me tell you, it is quite the ride.
In Hades, you play as Zagreus, a young man trapped in the bowels of purgatory. Fed up with the ideas of fate and eternal residence in the depths, you must defy the will of the god-king of the Underworld, Hades, to fight your way to freedom far above the halls of Tartarus. There is just one small problem: that Chthonic lord of the Underworld is also your dear, old dad.
This is where the tone of the game takes an interesting turn. While trying to escape, the Olympian gods and goddesses (along with some of the residents of Hades’ own palace) wish to lend Zagreus boons of strength for his journey. Hades wants nothing to do with their meddling, warning his son about the capricious nature of his family. Yet, the foolhardy boy will stop at nothing to escape the Underworld… to his own peril – time and time again.
Hades sees all of this Grecian drama unfold in a beautifully stylized animation style that feels akin to the Persona franchise with a splash of Torchlight for good measure. These contrasting influences create something that feels very fitting to the story while creating something new. But Hades goes far beyond the art.
With a focus on quick combat, the gameplay of Hades is challenging, but satisfying. You will have the opportunity to unlock three different weapons of mythologic proportion for very different play styles. Each of these weapons has a charged or special ability to them which can give you the edge in combat. You will also find equipment which will increase the strength of boons, offer damage resistance, and more.
Aside from your weapon skills and equipment, you can dash around the map and you have a ranged attack called Infernal Soul that works in a really unique way. You start the game with one charge of the spell, allowing you to fling a crystal across the map. If you hit a monster with it, it will stay with the monster until you kill it, but then you will need to collect it. Boons from the gods can change the behavior of this ability, but you will always have limited uses of it and will need to retrieve the stones once you finish your foes.
While in plumbing the depths of Tartarus, you will encounter departed souls and monstrosities which seek to halt your escape as well as a number of familiar faces who may grant you favors… if the price is right. Pay off the ferryman and he may sell you his wares from traveling the River Styx.
As previously mentioned, Hades is a rogue-like, so you will want to get used to the idea of death. After each death, however, you are given an opportunity to interact with the members of Hades’ house, developing your relationships with them, and potentially gain powerful rewards. Relationships are strengthen through interactions and gifts of Ambrosia with each character having a social meter, including Hades himself. While the Lord of the Underworld may not regard you with much warmth, Cerberus does!
Your time in the palace is not solely about the story, you will also be able to use the Mirror of Night, a gift from Nyx, Night Incarnate. This mirror allows Zagreus to use shadowy orbs of Darkness found in the depths to become stronger, unlocking more options as you collect keys. These options range from increase to your heath meter to extra dash to the ability to cheat death a limited time per run.
At present, Hades is only available on PC through Early Access in the Epic Store for $19.99 USD. It does offer controller support if you happen to have an Xbox controller, but it does not presently support the use of a Playstation or Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. For the time being, the keyboard and mouse set-up is not bad, but other members of our team have shared that their experience with the controller have been solid.