I was already a huge fan of Supergiant, developer of Bastion, Transistor and Pyre. There was no question that I was interested in covering Hades when it became available in Early Access, and thanks to the generosity of the fine folks at Supergiant, I was granted the opportunity to do just that. I generally expect some kind of glitch or oddity when evaluating an EA title, but with roughly 35 hours of gameplay at the time of this review, I can honestly say that I haven’t experienced anything like that. I did notice that there were no cards or achievements yet, but I’m confident those are coming. In fact, “The Long Winter Update” was pushed out on January 21st of 2020, just under 3 weeks ago. It was significant, including a new character and content, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the addition of cards and achievements in a future update.
I prefer to call it an “Action Roguelite,” and those who follow my reviews know all too well how much I adore this genre, devoting hundreds of playtime hours to my most beloved titles, which now includes Hades. The player does need to begin a new run or “escape attempt” upon death, and not all boosts or perks are permanent, so there are indeed roguelike elements, but there is also progression through permanent collectibles and upgrades, and that’s why I lean much more to the roguelite side of the fence for this one.
There’s something very unique about the settings menu, so I’m going to begin my review there. It allows for the rebinding of all controls and even includes mapping for screenshots. This is a feature I’ve seen utilized most recently in Noita and would love to see implemented in more games. For me, and many content creators, it seems like a no-brainer, but it’s rarely included in native support. Kudus to Supergiant for paying attention to details like this and also for adding a feature I’ve never seen in a retail build before, God Mode. God Mode has been used to facilitate development and testing for as long as I can remember, at times remaining as a hidden feature requiring a specific command to enable, but I’ve never seen it utilized in this way, as a clearly visible settings option for gamers who are struggling or prefer to focus strictly on the story.
Crystal clear graphics and original artwork grabbed my attention right from the start. I was also impressed with the exciting cast of characters, which among others includes: Daedalus, Nyx, Ares, Dionysus, Hermes, Achilles, Poseidon, Zeus, Athena, Artemis, the furies, and Lord Hades himself. As a heavy reader and fan of all things mythological, I absolutely loved seeing these Olympians jump right off the screen with such meticulous detail. I run the game on 1920×1080 resolution with a solid 60FPS and have yet to experience a skip, stutter, or tear. It’s absolutely vibrant, just gorgeous.
Our goal as the son of Hades and prince of the underworld is to escape. Progression through the game’s primary areas (Tartarus, Asphodel and Elysium) is the only way to accomplish that. Players can expect dynamic gameplay and real-time combat with a unique upgrade and reward system as well as the ability to determine the direction their game will take, through boons, underworld renovations, weapon choices, character and weapon attributes, and even the path they choose to take through chambers.
Hades utilizes procedural generation to ensure variance between runs, and also a combination of permanent and temporary boosts or perks. For example, boons obtained during a run are lost at the end of that run, but enhancements obtained from a chaos well may only be valid for a certain number of chambers or encounters. On the other hand, weapons and upgrades obtained in Hades’ home are permanent, and currency items are not lost. These features, plus the addition of in-game challenges and difficulty tweaks (like the option to enable a timer) ensure replayability and that each gamer has a highly unique and customized experience.