A luscious, beautiful, and painstakingly created rogue-like leading the way in storytelling innovation.
Supergiant Games have delivered the veritable cherry on top of the cake with this one. With an impressive portfolio of games already under their belt, including 2011 indie darling ‘Bastion’, and the award-winning Pyre, the small team of indie developers have consistently shown their ambition and love for the craft in every title they produce.
Supergiant Games are known for offering rich, colourful experiences, with unique and recognisable artwork, and usually an award-winning song hidden here and there from in-house composer, Darren Korb. A focus on story and characterisation is always at the heart of their titles, regardless of the genre of game.
Hades is a rogue-like game, i.e. a dungeon crawler style game with a different layout and different items during every attempted ‘run’. While known for their endless replay value and often distinct and recognisable art style, ‘rogue-like’ is perhaps not the first genre you’d think of when thinking of games with a strong, codified narrative and enticing story.
Prepare to change your mind about that- Hades is a different beast.
You take the reigns as Prince Zagreus, son of Hades, God of the Dead, desperately trying to escape the many layers of the Underworld- a feat unheard of. With an arsenal of unique weapons, play as Zagreus as he fights through the hordes of Hades’ shades, while trying to unravel the various mysteries of his parentage, Olympian relatives, and family secrets. Encounter more interactable characters than Myspace’s current user count, each with their own vivid and engaging tale to tell- if you build up your relationship right!
Hades includes a variety of figures from Greek mythology, and some surprise additions from other fables and stories. Play with the power of a God in the ultimate power fantasy, as you gain strength and boons from a pantheon of Gods and Godesses with their own unique playstyles and abilities.
Come for the absolutely addictive rogue-like antics, stay for the totally unexpected depth of the writing- I cried more times than I can count at this one, and not always sad tears.
The gameplay is fast, tight, and slick; combat is responsive and endlessly entertaining, with such work put into animating moves- each weapon is more than unique and distinct, with a specific yet flexible play style. As you progress through each ‘room’ of the Underworld, you can be offered one of a variety of items, including God Boons (which alter your moves, offer quality of life improvements, and generally result in busted runs), HP, Weapon Upgrades, and an endless buffet of tasty treats that will make little sense to you readimg this until you actually play it.
At various times while playing it I stated aloud in a awed whisper, “This is the best game I’ve played for years. It might be better than Hollow Knight.” Never did I think those words would come out of my gob, yet Hades showed me a future where this was possible.
Oh and it’s comparatively cheap as chips, and completely outdoes 99% of Massive Studios TM offerings.
Supergiant Games have said they want to make games that spark players’ imagination, like when they were kids. Hades is a reminder of a time when games were full of content by default -with nothing cut for the inevitable DLC- made with all the creative passion and ferocity you could ask for.
I’d say they’ve more than aced that mission statement with Hades.
Featured Image Credit: Supergiant Games