A Hades review out of hell. What is the real magic of game design
We wrote this review back in winter, but then it disappeared somewhere in the kingdom of the dead for many months. On August 13th, one of the best games of 2020, the highly acclaimed indie action game Hades, is finally making its way to consoles, and just by that time our text has managed to get out of hell. It’s time to remember why many gamers and critics preferred the release from a studio F95zone of 16 people to many big titles, and the humble indie fought with the industry mastodons for the title of GOTY 2020. And finally, figure out why you should play Hades if you are still not.
Hades was announced and released to Early Access during The Game Awards in December 2018, and two years later competed for the same prestigious Game of the Year award. Turning a good concept into a game masterpiece was not easy for the developers, but their efforts paid off with interest: even if the award was predictably given in the end to The Last of Us Part 2 , the Hades developers can be proud of their game no less, because it is unambiguously adored by gamers. Nine Metacritic Pointsand 99% Positive Steam Reviews- Druckmannsuch unequivocal approval never dreamed of. Why did the indie project of the team of 16 people turn out to be cooler than multimillion-dollar blockbusters? This is what we have to figure out. But one thing is clear for sure: if The Last of Us or DOOM plunge you into Hell, then Hades gives you the opportunity to get out of it. And now it can finally be used by those who humbly awaited the release on PlayStation and Xbox .
Hades , based as you understand on the ancient Greek mythology, tells about Zagreus, the son of Hades. Consistently destroying enemies in different regions of the Kingdom of the Dead, he tries to break through to the surface. The journey from Tartarus to the world of the living takes on average 25 to 30 minutes. Provided that a speedrunner or a professional Hades player is not involved. Each race is half an hour of unrestrained, vibrant action that is constantly evolving. The player gets new abilities right up to the fight with the final boss in the person of Hades.
The style of gameplay is changed by gifts, of which there are over a hundred in the game. Each of the nine gods is in a hurry to give Zagreus a piece of his strength so that he finally gets to Olympus and tells how his father-hermit is doing there. Gifts drop out randomly, so sometimes the hero turns into a perfect killing machine, and sometimes – into a useless mess with no chance of reaching at least the third region, Elysium. With its changing nature, Hades forces the player to constantly analyze and adapt their fighting style. It is necessary to take into account the peculiarities of gifts, enemies, arena and weapons. But the gameplay is so easy to learn that after a few hours you no longer need to read the descriptions and look at the icons. Hades turns into a dynamic race that would be the envyJason Statham in the movie Adrenaline.
Hades invites Zagreus :
At some point, Hades invites Zagreus to sign the Punishment Pact. This is a very flexible setting for the difficulty of the adventure. You can make enemies stronger by increasing their number of lives or by adding armor and strength. Or open up uncharted territory and even new tricks for bosses. Making races harder is not necessary in order to boast of a successful run on social networks. Changing the settings allows you to receive important rewards for pumping. For example, weapons – there are six types of weapons in the game: sword, spear, shield, bow, gloves and something that can be described as a machine gun with a grenade launcher. Yes, there is such a thing. Moreover, each of them has Aspects that change abilities and characteristics. Abundance of Gifts, Abilities of Zagreus, Pact, Weapons – Hadesallows you to create dozens, if not hundreds of builds. The variety makes the game unique to everyone. In addition, it is a “lightweight roguelike” that does not punish for every unsuccessful playthrough. Dying in Hades is unpleasant, but not scary. Moreover, death is the driving force of the story.
Writer Greg Kasavin delivers the story without cutscenes and lengthy dialogues. On average, heroes exchange three, maybe four lines. This only heightens interest and pushes for another attempt to escape from the Kingdom of the Dead. An attempt that, whatever the outcome, will end in death. She sends Zagreus back to Hades’ reception hall, where the heroes are waiting for him, ready to conduct a short dialogue. It gradually becomes clear that Hades – this is not a story about how a son and dad fought and ruined everyone’s holiday. Despite the fact that the action takes place in Hell, this is a story about love, misunderstanding and forgiveness. Every hero Zagrei meets is deeply unhappy. Maybe except for Sisyphus, who resigned himself to his fate and even gave a name to the stone. But in his behavior, you can see some kind of life lesson about humility.
It is important that none of the characters of HuniePop 2 takes the hero aside and does not read him profound morality. Stories are presented in small pieces, which are gradually chewed by consciousness. The puzzle becomes a picture, and now Zagreus is already hinting to Vixen that it was somehow more comfortable with her things in the chambers, or he runs to tell Eurydice that Orpheus regrets the loss of his muse. But the developers do not force anyone to fall in love with the heroes and climb into their souls. Hades you can go through like a classic roguelike, get things done, watch the credits and calmly delete. But for players who felt sympathy for the characters, the developers have prepared a surprise. The credits are not the end of the story, and after them there are still dozens of hours of content. Perhaps even more than in the main campaign. Each race still rewards the player with new abilities and mechanics, and Zagrei’s friends find happiness. However, like himself.
It was the players who made Doza and Skelly not just comedians to distract attention, but significant heroes with their own history. With the help of the players, the developers tweaked the balance of weapons and gifts, thanks to which, after the release, no one has a favorite ultimate cannon and an invincible build with which they went through the whole game. Of course, there are very specific people behind the music, art, plot and programming. But if the players feel that they had a hand in the success of Hades , then the developers themselves are unlikely to want to argue with this.