Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jan 182021

It’s finally time to talk about Hades, which I brought up previously as one of my favorite games I played last year.

I intended to ignore it since the roguelike gameplay loop doesn’t appeal to me a lot, but I saw enough people describing it as a roguelike for people who don’t enjoy roguelikes that I decided to give it a try.

And I loved it.

Roguelikes always struck me as the sort of games where you’d need to keep starting over. You’d make some progress, die, and then start over from the beginning, maybe with some new upgrades or something to make it a little easier, and then try to get further the next time.

At its core, that’s what you’ll be doing in Hades too, but because of the way the story is structured, it never felt to me like I was starting over.

You play Zagreus, the son of Hades who is trying to escape the Underworld for reasons that are explained as the story goes on. Hades has forbidden him from leaving, so he needs to fight his way through the realms of the Underworld to get out. This premise and setting means that all of your attempts and deaths fit into the story.

Die partway through one of the realms? You’re sent back to the House of Hades, where characters comment on your death or developments related to their personal character arcs or the main story, completely acknowledging that you made an attempt to leave.

Early on, I worried that if I died too many times, I’d run out of dialogue. That never happened. There is so much dialogue in Hades. Some of it relates to the main story, some to side quests or individual character stories, some specific to your most recent run – there was always new dialogue from the major characters.

(You also can pet Cerberus while you’re there, a small yet wonderful detail.)

Just having dialogue and story content isn’t enough, of course, so I’m happy to say that the main plot of Hades is pretty interesting and I really grew to love the characters as well. There’s also a lot of funny dialogue and little details that kept me coming back for the story progression.

Meanwhile, the gameplay has you pick a weapon (each with its own playstyle) and head out to fight hordes of enemies. Along the way, you’ll get boons from the major gods of Olympus to give you special powers for that run, as well as resources that let you unlock permanent upgrades once you get back to the House of Hades. That provides a sense of gameplay progression as well, since you’re always getting stronger.

You’ll eventually run out of things to upgrade, but it still gives you reasons to keep playing beyond the story and characters. Different weapons, different weapon aspects, self-imposed challenges to earn more rewards, etc. all provide a variety of things to do.

After playing for 100 hours, I consider my Hades playthrough to be “finished” now. I completed the main story, the epilogue story, and a majority of character stories. But there are still plenty of things I haven’t done and dialogue I haven’t seen, so returning isn’t out of the question even after all those hours.

Hades is an addictive game, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes action games or Greek mythology stories, even if you’re not a big roguelike fan. I doubt I’ll dive into the roguelike genre after this, but now I know that with the right story structure, I can not only find one enjoyable, but consider it to be one of my favorite games of the year.

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  2 Responses to “I’m No Roguelike Fan, But I Loved Hades”

  1. Big fan of Supergiant games, they really got a winner with this one. I am getting close to finished myself. It is a great experience, though I admit to times when I got burned out and needed a break from doing too many runs in a row (especially early on where I lost often, and in late-game where I am trying to finish certain quests that require a degree of randomness). Still a fantastic game, that I am very glad to be playing.

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