Hades is a rare exception of a video game studio mastering a genre. Usually, these roguelike games are shrouded in complicated lore, confusing storylines and gameplay mechanics that don’t gel seamlessly together. This is where Hades comes in. Right from the start, you know what it is about and as the game progresses, the brilliantly designed mechanics are fed to you spoon by spoon until you just can’t get enough anymore.
Somehow, Hades went from the game that I thought “could not be as good as everyone says” to a complete addiction. I lost sleep, I didn’t eat, had eye strain and when I finally managed to break away from the game and go to bed, I dreamed about it. It is extremely addictive and that can only be contributed to the game’s fantastic gameplay loop that kept me saying “one more run” over and over again.
If you don’t know yet, Hades is based on Greek mythology. You play as Zagreus, son of Hades. Zagreus decides that he is done with the underworld and plans to escape the realm. Ultimately, he has other intentions here but I don’t want to spoil the story for you because how it unravels is half the fun. One day he jumps through a window and now has to fight his way through the underworld that is filled with monsters, traps and other deadly contraptions.
Thankfully, the Gods of Olympus, among other beings strange and wicked, want to aid his adventure and offer up gifts to Zagreus. These buff his abilities, grant him skills to use and even special powers. Zagreus also unlocks a range of weapons that all these godly gifts tie into. Be it a bow that shoots arrows but can be buffed with electricity thanks to the gift of Zeus or a gun that applies a drunk state on enemies thanks to the wine god Dionysos.
Now a typical run in Hades starts off with a weapon choice and everything that follows feeds into that decision. Zagreus can dash, attack, special attack and cast an attack. Those abilities can all be buffed and enhanced using these gifts and the more gifts you get, the better you can build your character for that specific run.
While this is tough at first, the game only gets better the more you play it. New gods are discovered that grant new gifts, new weapons change up the gameplay completely, and after giving a god a gift, they even unlock equippable items that further enhance the gameplay. Hades just gets better and better after each run and the more I died, the more I got to chat to the people around the game and discover information about the world.
Often, I wanted to die because I had earned enough darkness to unlock a new buff or found a potion that would unlock a character’s item. Sometimes getting all the way to the last realm with no revives, a poor build and no money felt like a waste of time. However, I had to remember that everything I did in Hades made a difference. Even if this was finding one God gift and unlocking lore or a handful of currency towards my next mirror buff.
As I mentioned before, Hades is a full, well-rounded roguelike experience. This means it excels in its storytelling and character design while also being damn fun to play. Not only did I want to speak to everyone and unlock all the dialogue options and gifts that come from it, but I wanted to try every weapon and every skill. I completed the game after my 25th run and every single loop was different. Supergiant Games made sure that it would be hard to replicate the same build the next time you die and while this may sound annoying, it forced me to experiment with literally every mechanic in the game.
This is also why Hades is so addictive. Going into each run offers up the opportunity to have an entirely new experience even if you are using the same weapon as before. The gifts will drop in different places, offer different skills and the entire dungeon will twist and turn so it never feels familiar. When I died I could not wait to jump back out the window to see what new items and weapon attacks awaited me down below.
It also helps that Hades is fun to play. Combat is fast-paced and brutal. The different weapon types combined with Hades attacks and dash make the experience unrivalled. As I progressed through each run, it got better and better as I layered the items, power-ups and attacks on top of each other. In some runs, my dashes left behind spinning blades while in others I shot forward a chill cloud that slowed enemies. In another run, my attack hit four times and chained lightning while in another my special knocked back enemies. There is so much freedom to make your build.
Enemies and bosses also put up a tough challenge that combat needs to be fast and focused. Some enemies have shields, some annoyingly shoot you with a beam from the other side of the room and some even poison you. As I discovered these enemies, I also learnt how to tackle them so this again changed things up. In typical roguelike fashion, when you die, you learn. The same is said for Hades.
When it comes to exploration, Hade’s dungeon crawler layout works wonders. Rooms are filled with traps and enemies and once cleared I often had to decide what item I wanted to earn in the next room. These aren’t always easy decisions as sometimes the extra health buff is more important than the weapon upgrade. Or is it? Oh well, I will probably die and do it all over again anyway.
Finally, after close to thirty runs I killed the final boss and the build I had was fantastic but also thanks to sheer luck. I focused on the hangover debuff while applying weakness and then found an attack that dealt extra damage to enemies inflicted with a hangover while the hangover damaged them due to weakness.
It was fantastic. I finished the run with three revives too. However, after that, things seriously change in Hades as the game’s true “risk and reward” mechanics come into play. I could now grant the game’ buffs against me in an attempt to earn more rewards. This is where Hade’s end-game shines and the experience is simply perfection.
What I loved about Hades is that there is always something to do. Be it a run with new items or customizing the House of the Dead’s decoration. I often just went into the game to grind for some Darkness and gifts to advance my relationship with Death. I totally think is Zagreus’ ex-boyfriend but we will leave that debate for another day. Nothing felt like a waste of time and every mechanic is layered with more content and exploration.
Hades PS5 Review
Roguelikes thrive on that “one more run” gameplay and Hades hits the nail on the head over and over again. It is everything you love from the genre but with more attention to detail than ever before. The gameplay is exciting, the systems are deep, and the push for “one more run” makes this game unbelievably addictive. It could be the best roguelike I have ever played.
This Hades PS5 review is based on a code sent to us by 2K Games
Available On: PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC, Switch | Reviewed On: PS5 | Reblease Date: 13 August 2021 | Price: R495