A man emerges from a pool of blood in the realm of the dead. Your first question is probably where such an individual came from, but no one else pays special attention to him. The doorman goes over the reasons for his death with a little mockery, exchanges a couple of taunts with the regent divinity that everyone fears and caresses one of the three heads of the hellhound that everyone knows you should not approach.
It is not your business, you continue with your business of eternal death. But three quarters of an hour later you see him come out of the pool of blood again. He repeats his path and this time brings a bottle with ambrosia for the surly woman who spends the day whispering in the canteen. And another hour later he has returned with nectar for the musician and plans for a meeting. And again in another hour.
And when you’ve gotten used to it and expect it to appear in the pool of blood … Nothing. Neither he nor the god of the dead are here. There is a certain tension in the abode. Something is happening and all those visits have contributed to it. ‘Hades’ knows how to create the nerves that accompany this situation and that you lose your breath for a moment waiting to see if it will be the good one or Zagreo will be bathed in blood again.
It would be strange if you haven’t heard of ‘Hades’ in recent years. The title has been selected by many media and awards such as GOTY; not 2019 or 2020, but both years. Its development breaks with what we are used to in the industry. Supergiant Games made sales available from the first minute with the early access option, and they were always direct with their plans and objectives.
This transparency made the game sound strong long before it was officially terminated with version 1.0. The PC version was a complete product on its own, but the arrival on the Nintendo Switch elevated it to beyond excellence. This is how we end up having a masterpiece to remember forever and ever, to revisit for years to come, and to celebrate in our future nostalgia.
There was only one thing left: to be available on the main platforms. If 2019 was the time for PC and 2020 for Nintendo Switch, 2021 had to be for everyone else. It’s hard to believe that the fantastic ‘Hades’ wasn’t available on Microsoft and Sony video consoles until now. But now that it has arrived on Xbox One, Series X, PS4 and PS5 we have with us the definitive version of what a work of art is.
If you are looking for an analysis of why ‘Hades’ works perfectly technically, you have the analysis of my colleague Oscar Martínez. It defines very well the strengths of the game and the journey that Supergiant Games has taken to reach this point. I cannot imagine this article without recommending your reflections.
Of course there is an important but about my partner’s analysis. It brings out everything positive about the title: its fantastic way of posing death as part of the process, its diversity in benefits from the gods, its charismatic characters. By Caesar What Is Caesar’s, Supergiant Games has made a revolutionary game that is going to inspire tons of roguelikes in the years to come. As a player or developer you have an obligation to play ‘Hades’.
His problems arise when Zagreo does not emerge from the bloodbath. The escape process is always the same: a specific number of rooms, the shift boss, and the next level. We mark the randomness with our weapons and strategies, because Tartarus is not going to do it for us.
In the many games that the title requires to know its true ending, you will end up knowing each room down to the smallest detail. You can easily imagine which enemies are going to bother you in the next room. And the boss of each level doesn’t change unless you deliberately increase its difficulty level beforehand. There is no room for surprise: only to repeat the same melody over, and over, and over again with the idea of getting a different result.
‘Hades’ is polished and finished, but as a player I need something more from him. Its narrative look is brilliant and absolutely perfect, I wouldn’t change a single line. The combat system works perfectly for each of the weapons. But the title needs a bit more of his escape attempts. More visually different types of rooms with varied challenges, more basic enemies, and please, some variety in the final bosses. I wish I didn’t have to bother with Theseus every time I play a game.
Gods, how I hate Theseus.
Better in new generation
‘Hades’ is still a magnificent work of art even with the issues highlighted. Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 make sure to give the best possible version of this story to gamers. It’s not just the superior graphics resolution and fantastic fluidity that work in this version’s favor over the Nintendo Switch – it’s its controls.
We all know that the HD vibration of the Joy Con is a delight, but the comparison is difficult with Sony’s DualSense. Supergiant Games has put in an incredible effort so that the vibration of the controller in the new generation tells us imperceptible details on other platforms. The triggers relax when we pet Cerberus, while they go rigid when we try to steal one of our father’s coveted treasures.
No distracting loading times and a gap-free frame rate make the new generation the perfect place to enjoy ‘Hades’. That is if we sacrifice the portability that Nintendo Switch gives us, of course, in what continues to win as a superior version as it is a title that allows you to enjoy both quick and short games. With the autosave system in mind and the ability to stop progress at any time, it is difficult to choose which version to enjoy.
It is a pity therefore that the Sony and Microsoft versions do not have the possibility to play cross save. PC and Nintendo Switch allow progress on both platforms to be brought together, and if the new generation version had allowed it, they would also undoubtedly be one more reason to acquire the game several times. Even so, it is still advisable to play it in any of the available versions. It is a work that leaves a mark.
I know of people who have not connected with ‘Hades’ like others. Personally, I see all its strengths and understand that Supergiant Games has marked a before and after with a work of art that cannot be matched in many years. If you’re not a fan of roguelikes, ‘Hades’ has absolutely every reason in the world for you to change your mind by making death not an obstacle but a step in progress.
It’s not perfect, but its weaknesses are just trifles when we compare it to the rest of the title. Now that Microsoft and Sony players can enjoy the game, we can prepare ourselves so that the community around the title is rekindled more. And to win more GOTY awards again in 2021. Because, the truth is, he still deserves them all.