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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

What I've Been Playing: Hades

Roguelike adventure game Hades takes you to hell and back again... and again and again and again.


This week, this entire week, I’ve been playing and LOVING the new roguelike adventure game ‘Hades’. I’m notoriously bad at videogames. I’ve always been a Nintendo fanboy, playing more laid back, wholesome games with very few challenges. The Legend of Zelda is usually as adventurous as I get into action/adventure genre. But when a game comes out that has so much hype, and that ticks so many boxes, (story/theme/artwork) like Hades did I knew I had to bite the bullet and play something entirely new to me. And boy am I glad I did.

Based on the gameplay I knew I was going to struggle. You play as Zagreus, son of Greek god Hades, as he attempts to escape the underworld. To get out you have to hack and slash your way from the bottom of hell to the surface of Olympus. At first, you’ll be so weak that you die very, very, very quickly. Many times. That’s the way a “roguelike” works, you amass upgrades that you keep every time you die in-game, so you get stronger, and further into the dungeons of hell. It’s actually a genre of videogames I only learned about recently and never thought I’d indulge in.

That has never been my thing with videogames, I love to chill and enjoy a game that’s not too hectic. But the moment I stepped out of the palace of the underworld and into the fray I fell in love with the pace, the action and the mayhem of Hades. Each step you take further into hell is super satisfying. You level up your weapons, speeds and abilities (gifts from the Olympian gods above called boons), every time you die, and return to the palace. There’s a sharp learning curve, but I have and am still climbing the ladder, fighting harder enemies and carrying deadlier weapons. Still, even when you’re fully powered up, the game presents quite a challenge. I’m yet to beat the final boss, but am determined to get there, having gained new videogame skills I never thought I’d reach.

But what really draws me to hades and keeps me playing is the story, the characters and the Greek mythology themes. Every character you come across both in the palace of the underworld and in hell are recognizable characters from Greek fables. King of these is Hades himself, your in-game father who disapproves of your attempts to escape and watches with distaste as you pull yourself out of the river Styx after a run. Hades views his son as a lazy, ungrateful cretin and sets his minions upon him to stop him from reaching the surface. These minions include the famous furies and the minotaur from Greek myth.

Zagreus has many famous friends on his side though, such as Cerberus the hell hound, Nyx; the personification of night, Achilles the Greek champion, and Thanatos the god of death. You also, in your escape attempts, are aided by the Greek gods themselves, Zeus, Poseidon, Ares and Aphrodite all give you special abilities and cheer you on as you progress.

The story of a son breaking out on his own, to find his mother and spite his father is engaging, and each time you share a conversation with someone within the house you learn a little more. Talk to Nyx and you learn about Zagreus origins, talking to Thanatos reveals the story of a fractured friendship/romance. Achilles, the most tragic character within the palace, will tell tales of his battles, and the loss of his love Patroclus. The story takes some liberties, and is in itself an original myth, but is also pretty faithful to the original myths I read about and loved as a kid.

The art style gives each character and god a beautiful, original design that you see displayed during every conversation and it’s so charming. Even the graphics within the underworld, while you’re fighting flaming skulls and ghouls, is pretty good for a game of this type. To use an industry term, the vibes are great in this game. It passes the vibe check.

If you are a player like me who doesn’t usually like a challenge but are looking to play something like you never have before, I can’t recommend Hades enough. It’s a thrilling, challenging, and creative in its genre. Just don’t be afraid to die a LOT.

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