Hades is a roguelike video game developed and published by Supergiant Games. It was released for PC and Nintendo Switch in September 2020. The game has a hack-and-slash combat system with the ability to unlock new weapons, character summons, and diety-based attacks. 

The game follows Zagreus, son of Hades, in his attempts to escape The Underworld to find his mother, Persephone. The Olympian Gods catch wind of this and offer their aid to the young master, thinking he wants to join them on Mount Olympus. With the help of the gods and other mythological beings, Zagreus makes it his mission to find the mother his father keeps quiet about. 

The game was a massive success both commercially and critically. Hades is celebrated for its gameplay, art, music, characters, and narrative. It won multiple Game of the Year awards in 2020. It also won a Hugo Award, an award exclusively reserved for science fiction or fantasy works. However, many people still ask: What’s so great about Hades

Simple but Diverse Gameplay

Hades is a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler that gives players a wide variety of options for skills, weapons, and maps. As players progress through the game, they gain the option to select between six different weapons, each with four different forms. This, paired with gifts given by the other characters in-game, offers players the option to tailor their experiences right off the bat.

Every run through The Underworld is randomized. While the controls remain the same, each run is different because of the boons or events the player comes across. For example, for a run, the player may not run into certain NPCs. There is a perfect balance between simple gameplay, personalization, and randomization that allows Hades players to have a different experience each time they cross The Underworld. 

Death is a Reward

Nier: Automata is a game that forces a replay value to get more of the story. The first playthrough takes around ten to thirteen hours. This forces players to start over at least two to three more times to piece together a story. This can take more than 60 hours, not including lost time due to death. It can be tiring and downright annoying.

However, Hades? One hour for an entire run, max. What happens if Zagreus dies 5 minutes in? The player still gets a piece of the story. Dying is a fitting part of the game design. Oddly enough, it doesn’t feel like a failure when it happens. Is it frustrating when the player is killed? Yes, but it is not a loss. 

With each death, Zagreus develops relationships with the characters or learns more lore about the Underworld. There are also the options to decorate The Underworld chambers, upgrade abilities and weapons, and pet Cereberus. 

Death, in Hades, is a reward in many aspects. Escaping also comes with its rewards. 

If Zagreus manages to exit The Underworld, players receive dialogues and events that relate to Persephone. However, due to the nature of the game, death comes for Zagreus rather quickly. This puts players back at the beginning, but this time, with a thirst to know more. 

God Mode

God Mode is an option for those who have an interest in the story or have beat the game enough and just want to unlock stuff. God Mode is an option that allows players to grow to resist enemy attacks. This, too, grows with each death. With every death, the god mode increases by 5%, granting players more and more resistance each time they die. This allows players to not worry too much about dying easily and focus more on escaping. 

Greek Mythology

Zagreus himself is not a well-known part of Greek Mythology. He comes from a branch of Ancient Greek religion that focuses on the tales of Orpheus after his descent into the Underworld, known as Orphism. Zagreus’s murky origins are confusing due to either being the son of Persephone and Zeus or the son of Persephone and Hades. In some myths, his fathers are Zeus and Hades, as some myths say Hades is an aspect of Zeus. He is known as the first Dionysus or the Orphic Dionysus because of the conflicting myths.

Zagreus’s murky origins aside, the game touches on the relationships between the main gods of the Greek pantheon. It also touches on the relationships between Zagreus with other entities such as Nyx, Primordial Chaos, Thanatos, Megara, Medusa, and Achilles. As well as the relationships and opinions each entity has of each other. These snippets of information mention events that occurred within the tales avid readers of Greek mythology are aware of, like Sisyphus and the boulder, Artemis and her relationship with the nymphs, and Poseidon’s relationship with Theseus. 

LGBT Representation 

Mythology enthusiasts are familiar with Zeus’s sexual antics and Aphrodite’s lovers. Hades does not shy away from this and follows the tales true to form. Like many of the gods, Zagreus is bisexual. He is also polyamorous and can be in a relationship with Thanatos and the fury Megaera if the player chooses. Chaos, the embodiment of the primordial void from which Nyx and the Titans came, is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. Finally, the game explores the loving relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Their tale picks up long after the events of the Illiad. This has led players to celebrate the game for not shying away from these aspects of Greek mythology.

Overall, Hades is a game for fans of hack-and-slash dungeon crawlers, customization, innovative gameplay and storytelling, and fans of Greek mythology.

To learn more about mythology, check out our posts about deities or Smite!