REVIEW – Supergiant Games’ latest creation, Hades, has finally made its way to consoles after collecting so many awards that even The Last of Us 2 and Ghost’s of Tsushima were shaken. After a masterful debut on PC and Nintendo Switch, it was inevitable that Zagreus’ story would return to next-gen Xboxes and Playstations.
Hades debuted in both the Best Indie and Best Game of the Year categories at last year’s Games Awards, winning the first statuette, but also won awards in the main category at subsequent shows. The Californian team’s product has shown rock-solid foundations since its early access debut, a phase that lasted about a year, at the dawn of its success, consolidated by the moment of arrival of the final version.
Heavy parental legacy when the father is the god of the underworld
For those of you who have been hibernating for the past few months and don’t know what we’re talking about, or more realistically haven’t been able to try Hades on PC and Nintendo Switch while waiting for it to arrive on consoles, the time has finally come to inhale the scent of the sulphur of the underworld. Last September, the roguelike dungeon crawler from the creators of Bastion, Pyre and Transistor impressed us with its compelling gameplay, fast-paced story and impeccable graphics.
As Zagreus, the son of Hades, the god of the underworld, it’s our task to free ourselves from Tartarus to learn more about our roots and break the chains that lock us in darkness with the ghosts and unfortunate souls of the afterlife. Obviously, escaping from the depths of hell is not easy at all, and failures will punctuate our escape attempts against all sorts of creatures and four main bosses – we will need excellent reflexes and a lot of patience to win.
Greek myths are full of tragedy, drama and family dysfunction of all kinds, and Hades delivers on all of them. The player takes on Zagreus, Hades’ son, who wants to leave his father’s underworld realm and reach Olympus. Zagreus is aided by his foster mother Nyx and many other gods of the Greek pantheon. Hades, of course, opposes this and tries to prevent Zagreus from reaching Olympus. Rather than trying to step up the fatherly game and encourage his son to stay in the underworld, he is so opposed to his son not wanting to follow in his footsteps that he unleashes all the horrors of the underworld to prevent Zagreus’ progress, where Zagreus dies many, many times over even with all the blessings from the other gods. Why Zagreus wants to leave the underworld is not entirely clear, but as the game progresses, more details are revealed in flashbacks.
When dad’s bad, the family helps
Fortunately, our relatives are more loving than our dad and are certainly more inclined to help us in our endeavours, giving us gifts that enhance our offence, special attack, dodging, or throwing. By combining different skills, you can create some really exciting builds, one of the features that make the replayability of this title potentially infinite. But while the gameplay is fun, killing monsters with a sword, bow or shield isn’t the only aspect that makes Hades a must-play.
Progressing through the different rooms of the four worlds is also helpful in completing further quests within the game and deepening relationships with characters to uncover secrets that have been kept from us for years. There are plenty of secret places for players thirsting for completion, and unlocking rooms and unlocking various items will yield gems and diamonds to hit your grip.
Our experience on Xbox Series X is the same in terms of gameplay, but the optimisation of Hades for next-gen consoles has completely captivated us, to the point where we think we’re in for a brand new experience. Forget the initial problems with Nintendo’s machine, the two new flagship titles from Supergiant Games are truly flawless. On the new-generation Sony and Xbox consoles, Hades shines at 4K resolution and hits 60fps. At the same time, last-generation hardware holds the same fps performance, but on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles, the resolution is only 1080p.
We’re getting into the swing of things
Nowadays, many games are filled with tutorials that take forever to get into the gameplay and are written entirely as if they were written for people who have never played a video game before. Fortunately, Hades does not suffer from this problem. It knows itself for the kind of game it is: a simple action roguelike where the player rushes into battle with various attacks, dies, then comes back a little stronger and can try again. Zagreus operates with basic melee attacks and some special moves that vary depending on what weapon he’s equipped with. We wander through procedurally generated rooms of the underworld, fighting it and trying to stay alive, with different rewards at the end of each room.
The rooms are filled with monsters trying to prevent you from reaching Charon, and the regular practice is to kill all the enemies in a room to open the way to the next room. It’s a simple formula and doesn’t add much new, but the execution is excellent. Enemy spawn points and traps are set up in each room to challenge the player, but the situation doesn’t feel hopeless even in the most crowded spaces. Hades is a genuinely challenging game, but still, one where after each death, the player tries “one more go” over and over and over again.
Flawless Hades experience
The combat is smooth, the colours shine in this new look, and each room is a joy to play through without any performance setbacks. Aside from the excellent performance, the only flaw of the new generation is that you can’t transfer your PC or Switch saves to consoles, as cross-save is not allowed. This is expected because this feature is currently not yet standard (only possible for specific titles) in games. Not being able to continue the attempts to escape from the underworld that began last year and continue them on Xbox and PlayStation is something we expected, and at least gives us a chance to reappreciate the first moments of setting foot in Hades’ hellish abode.
To use a bit of a Greek analogy, this success puts the boys from California on the developers’ Olympus. With this coming to consoles, Hades releases are presumably over (with at most one more Stadia release to come), so now everyone can look forward to a possible sequel – but Supergiant Games has yet to comment for now on this.
Whether the team is working on a new game or a possible sequel, there’s no doubt that the wait will be sweeter thanks to Zagreus and his desire for revenge.
+ Great gameplay and varied character development
+ Top graphics and mirror-like 60 fps on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5
+ Gorgeous graphics and electrifying music
– Too hard for non-hardcore games
– At times self-repetitive
– Sometimes a little stagnant
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Developer: Supergiant Games
Style: roguelike action RPG
Release date: 19 August 2021