Hades has seen one hell of a journey (no pun intended) since launching in December 2018. Arriving via Steam's Early Access, Supergiant Games' indie action-RPG was a signature departure from their previous works - Bastion, Transistor and Pyre - and few could've anticipated a roguelike was next. Previously on Switch and PC, that launches today for PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S (Game Pass too). If you've not experienced Hades yet, now's the perfect chance.
Centred around Greek Mythology, you play as Zagreus, Prince of the Underworld and serial escapee, trying to leave the domain of his domineering father, Lord Hades. Tired of life down below, he seeks to reach the surface and reach Mount Olympus, fighting his way through four separate biomes: Tartarus, Asphodel, Elysium, and the Temple of Styx.
Escape From The Underworld
Of course, that's no easy task, but fear not. Each run is aided by Zagreus' relatives on Olympus. Between the more withdrawn Artemis, warmongering Ares, uncle Poseidon, our chilled out alcoholic cousin Dionysus and more, each grant boons that build upon Zagreus' abilities. Offering new attacks, buffs and other benefits, we're supported by several Cthonic Gods too like Charon, Chaos and Thanatos, not to mention the Underworld's more notorious inhabitants Sisyphus, Eurydice, or Patroclus.
Imagine Zagreus as a vessel for these abilities and you've got the right idea, Hades offers significant gameplay customisation. Out of nine Olympian gods, you can draw upon four in a single run (plus Hermes), even combining their abilities for Duo Boons. The Mirror of Night lets you improve your innate abilities that carry over between runs, while all six weapons - ranging between swords, spears, bows and even a gun - have four individual variants too.
Similar, Yet Ever Changing
Spoilers ahead in this paragraph, but that doesn't even factor in the Pact of Punishment, which unlocks upon successfully escaping once. For players seeking a challenge, that implements new measures like 'Forced Overtime' increasing enemy attack speed, 'Extreme Measures' for more powerful boss fights, or even the 'Tight Deadline' condition, which encourage quicker completion speeds. As such, no two runs are ever identical.
To call Hades' a highly versatile game would be an understatement. Offering one of the most satisfying gameplay loops I've ever witnessed, I spent +100 hours on the PC version last year, clearing the end-game and repeatedly trying to best my fastest time (12 mins 57 seconds). I bought it again on Switch when the physical release dropped, it became my 2020 Game of the Year alongside Persona 5 Royal.
Tales From The Abyss
It's not just the gameplay which had me hooked, either. Hades presents one of the most refreshing takes on Greek Mythology I've seen in a long time. Offering an emotional story, some brilliantly-developed characters and a genuinely satisfying conclusion, I was hooked immediately. By making our protagonist an immortal god, starting again after "dying" feels much more feasible, acting as a means to advance this story.
I could sing the praises for ages but you'd be better seeing it for yourself, I wouldn't want to spoil the finer details. Hades isn't just Supergiant's best effort yet, it's one of the best action-RPGs I've ever played, the roguelike to make you a fan of roguelikes. Now its on Game Pass too, Hades is more accessible than ever and everyone should experience it. Honestly, I'm tempted to start a fresh save on my Series X.