Supergiant Games has a history of creating phenomenal isometric action / adventure games and Hades is possibly their greatest yet.
Considering it hasn't really been on my radar, Hades' surprise release on Switch immediately piqued my interest and now that I've been playing it obsessively, I understand why gamers are loving it as much as they are. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades and take it upon yourself to escape the Underworld. Unfortunately, doing so is a grueling undertaking and whenever you perish, you're revived back at the House of Hades which acts as the hub area. So, the gameplay loop involves heading out into the procedurally-generated isometric dungeon which consists of a handful of distinct areas only to probably bite the dust then spend some time back at home base where you spend earned currencies to acquire upgrades. Meanwhile, the story is slowly revealed throughout each run and back at the House of Hades via dialogue scenes and handy unlockable codex entries and the characters and plot are quite intriguing.
Traversing the dungeons is focused almost entirely on combat and you won't come across any puzzles which makes for a consistently exciting adventure that'll keep you on the edge of your seat. Thankfully, the combat is handled extremely well in that it allows for much customization, strategy, and flexibility. For example, you can attack by tapping or holding the attack button, cast spells, perform special moves, and use energy stored in a God gauge for some potentially devastating abilities. Meanwhile, you'll have to dash out of harm's way almost constantly. The primary configuration that dictates your play style is equipping a weapon which includes things like a sword, bow, spear, and shield. I preferred the bow with its long-range attacks but mixing them up allows you to unlock additional goodies from defeating bosses so I tended to change things up regularly. It all comes together to form one exciting gameplay formula.
As you progress through the dungeons, you'll regularly be rewarded with permanent currencies and temporary upgrades that will help you in the long-run and short term, respectively. Many of the temporary upgrades will change how you play drastically so each run feels like a unique experience and it's especially awesome when you come across combinations of upgrades that coalesce to turn you into an unstoppable monster-slaying machine. Once you blow your wealth of earned currencies and upgrade things at home, you'll likely make it further on the successive attempts which is rewarding stuff, especially considering the steep level of challenge involved.
In addition to its stellar gameplay, Hades features a fantastic soundtrack which complements its Greek mythology setting. Speaking of which, the visuals are incredibly sharp complete with detailed environments, well-animated models, and distinct character art. On top of all this, there's a talented voice cast that help flesh out each character's unique personality which range from sinister to silly.
Although I loved my time with Hades and will continue to enjoy it, there are a few downsides that are hard to overlook. First, I found that replaying from the beginning got a bit tiresome after 10 or so attempts. I understand that this is a roguelike but other roguelikes (like the lovely Going Under) have remedied repetition in clever ways and I wish this did, too. Slaying the same bosses again and again can get especially wearisome. Next, I found luck to be a harsh mistress sometimes. For example, the enemies may not match well with the environment such as one occasion where projectile-spewing monsters inhabited an arena with a lot of lava and traps around which made it nearly impossible to survive. On a similar note, the visuals can be downright chaotic at times with so many layers of projectiles, hazards, traps, and enemies that it's hard to process what's going on. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between.
Hades is in the upper echelon of roguelikes so if you enjoy action-packed combat, concise yet engaging stories, and unlocking rewarding goodies then you'll have a phenomenal amount of fun trying to escape the Underworld.
- + Brilliant action-packed combat that blends flexibility, strategy, and variety
- + Fantastic music, graphics, and story
- + Consistently rewarding upgrades
- - Replaying the same bosses gets a little tiresome, especially in the early goings
- - Luck can sometimes be rather harsh
- - Visuals become too chaotic at parts