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Hades – PS5

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Battle out of hell in Hades, recipient of more than 50 Game of the Year awards! In this rogue-like dungeon crawler from the creators of Bastion and Transistor, you’ll wield the powers and mythic weapons of Olympus to break free from the clutches of the god of the dead himself, while growing stronger and unraveling more of the story with each unique escape attempt. This physica…
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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Brilliant Roguelike with compelling story
  • So much to unlock
  • Variety in weapons and eventual upgrades
  • The relationship system with the other characters

Might Not Like

  • Can be a little grindy at times
  • It's a hard game, but does have a god mode
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Description

Battle out of hell in Hades, recipient of more than 50 Game of the Year awards!

In this rogue-like dungeon crawler from the creators of Bastion and Transistor, you'll wield the powers and mythic weapons of Olympus to break free from the clutches of the god of the dead himself, while growing stronger and unraveling more of the story with each unique escape attempt.

This physical edition features a couple of bonus extras:

A download code for the Hades Original Soundtrack, by composer Darren Korb, featuring two and a half hours of blood-pumping music created for the game.

A full-color 32-page character compendium booklet, with artwork by Jen Zee, featuring the game's colorful cast of gods, ghosts, and monsters.

Supergiant Games have made a name for themselves with unique games with rich worlds, gameplay and interesting stories. Their latest, Hades, might be their best yet. Set in the underworld you play Zagreus, son of Hades himself and obsessed with escaping his position in Hell. There is more to the story than that! One of the joys of Hades is discovery. This goes well beyond the point it has any right too.

Hells Bells

As the game starts off a relatively weak Zagreus suffering under the seeming disdain of his father. He’s not happy with his position in life and is intrigued by his olympian relatives. To test the security of hell Zagreus makes his way through a number of levels taking on Hades minions as he goes. To do so he has eventual access to 6 weapons but starts with a sword.

Attacks and basic, special and you are also equipped with a ‘cast’ that you throw and it sticks in enemies. There is also the possibility of gaining a ‘call’ a super special move that can be launched at two levels – if you let it charge up enough. Rounding out your move set is a dash move that can dodge enemy attacks. There is no block as such, but you can unlock a shield as a weapon that can block damage. The game sees you progress through a number of rooms until coming to a boss for that level and moving up closer to the surface.

Of course, being a roguelike you are going to die. A lot. And you will use your death to improve your chances for the next run. Very early on you will unlock a mirror in your bedroom (part of the hub world) that you can use to unlock permanent abilities. From stat boosts to more casts they are all very helpful at extending your runs. There are multiple currencies in the game including darkness, coins and gems. Generally, they are used in one place but as the game goes on you will find more and more uses for them.

Boon or Bust

On top of the mirror abilities, there are a number of ways to boost your powers during a run. The most significant of these being boons offered by the gods of Olympus. These boons have both a rarity and level with higher rarities being way more powerful and higher levels improving stats within that rarity. These are themed well around the god that offers them, Zeus, for example, offers a number of lightning-based powers. You’ll have a choice of three each time you meet a god, and they will add their effects to one of your moves, or give you a different stat boost.

Zeus can add lightning attacks to your attacks, turn you cast into a bolt that zips between your enemies or hit enemies that attack you with revenge damage. Revenge damage is quite possibly my favourite type of damage! Should the opportunity arise, I always try to punish enemies for daring to lay a hand on me. The goddess Athena is a particular favourite adding deflect effects to your various attacks, returning the enemies projectiles back at them.

It will take you a while to find all these gods, and even longer to gain their legendary boons. There are even ‘duo’ boons where two gods combine their powers. The entrance to each room shows what type of reward it will offer, a symbol for the god, a currency, a shop, a health increase or a pom (which allows you to level up one of your boons). My favourite though is the hammer, which appears a maximum of two times in a run. This allows you to improve your attacks by making them hit harder and further or changing the nature of how they attack.

Go Fish

Discovery and unlocking is core to the fun of Hades. You always feel like you are working towards something. I’m well on my way to 150 runs and I’m still unlocking new things. Part of this is due to the cool way you unlock more story. One of the pickups/currencies is nectar and it’s boosted version – ambrosia. As you talk to characters, including the gods who offer you boons, you will develop a relationship with them. Sometimes you will have the chance to offer them nectar which makes them like you more and occasional offer you a gift in return.

These can be keepsakes – another power-up for your latest run, or other fun stuff. Oh and in terms of keepsakes prioritise Skellys you’ll use it a lot in the early days. I’ve been seriously impressed by how much Hades draws me back in for ‘one more run’. I love Dead Cells but it hasn’t had anywhere near the pull of Hades.

When you finally do escape for the first time, you’ll realise that you have barely scratched the surface of all Hades has to offer. You’ll be diving back in to further improve just about everything. I’m now into a phase called ‘pacts of punishment’. To win better awards, you must stack the odds against you by increasing the difficulty in a number of ways. Each time you add a new item of difficulty your raise your heat meter. The game tracks your best heat run with each weapon so you can see which you are best with. The choices are wide-ranging too – more enemies or have them do more damage? Give bosses and armoured enemies unique perks or have a time limit?

Hades Yeah!

Hades is not only a fantastic game, it might just be the best game I played in 2020. It’s certainly become one of my most played games ever outside of sporting games. Whenever I think I’m done with it, I’m drawn back to max out a relationship or unlock something else that’s been hinted at. Even within this review, I haven’t been able to mention everything!

On top of that, I’m still encountering new and interesting dialogue and storylines. On the downside, some people may be put off by the initial difficulty. There is a ‘god’ mode that increases your defence by 5% each time you die (up to a max of 80%) and I’d recommend turning it on unless you are a full hardcore gamer. For me, it made the game more enjoyable and my progression a little faster. The combat is satisfying but some of the weapons feel just better than others. The game randomly rewards one weapon with bonuses to currencies each run to mix things up. If you hate one weapon, it won’t be that enticing.

Poms rapidly become a little redundant as often they are the worst choice and just like weapons some gods just feel better. You might not encounter them for a couple of runs though. The only other thing I wish for is a casual mode where you can choose your boons freely. Not for high scores or anything like that but just to see what it feels like to play with a full revenge build. Although to be fair there might be one because I still haven’t unlocked everything… in fact, I think I’ll just have a quick run now!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Brilliant Roguelike with compelling story
  • So much to unlock
  • Variety in weapons and eventual upgrades
  • The relationship system with the other characters

Might not like

  • Can be a little grindy at times
  • It's a hard game, but does have a god mode