Although over the years Supergiant Games we got used all too well to indies of undisputed quality like Bastion e Transistor, with Hades this time the small Californian studio wanted to try their hand at a genre in which the independent market is often saturated, the roguelike. As if that were not enough, this type of game boasts some real giants inside it like Dead Cells, Crypt of the Necrodancer e Spelunky, which over time have greatly raised the bar on how a roguelike with bows must be packaged, drawing a real border line between the myriad of titles that are lost in the mass and the few gems that succeed in it. to stand out.
In this enterprise worthy of a hero of Olympus therefore stands Hades, which fully reflecting the soul of Supergiant, expertly mixes a unique and magnetic storytelling and style, with a gameplay hardcore but at the same time extremely fun, capable of capturing more and more the player run after run, in a whirlwind of almost addiction.
A plot to be discovered
The intertwining of Hades, although it may seem a bit simplistic and very direct at the beginning, a real well-written and thought-out plot is revealed during the runs, with all the facets of the case. Our protagonist is Zagreus, prince of the Underworld and son of Hades in person, who, tired of living in the kingdom of the dead, decides to flee from his father's house and cross the afterlife to reach his relatives on Mount Olympus. Thus said the story seems to be really a simple pretext to justify the dungeon that Zagreus goes to face during his rise from the ade, however dialogue after dialogue, we will realize how the story it's not that simple as it appears at first glance. In fact, the prince does not know the whole truth, as does the player himself, and every step we take together with Zagreus towards the surface will reveal ever new and unexpected details about the life and past of the latter, gradually completing a puzzle more and more complex and articulated.
Every single character after every single escape attempt will always have different and unique dialogues, and the attitude of the ade's residents towards the prince will change continuously as the story progresses, making the player perceive one thickness of the latter hardly reached even in the most famous Triple A. The attention to detail is maniacal, and if you add to this the fact that all the lines of dialogue are dubbed (in English), one is almost amazed at how Hades manages so convincingly to make immerse completely the player in the midst of these characters from Greek mythology, each outlined by a strong and extremely multifaceted personality.
A never banal gameplay
If the plot and the writing of the characters therefore reach an excellent level, the same can be said of gameplay by Hades, which acts as a solid glue to the whole project. As with the plot, at first glance, the gameplay structure also presents very basic elements. At the beginning of the run you choose one between six weapons with which it is possible to carry out a basic and a special attack, while the rest of the commands are limited to a dash of Zagreus and a ranged attack. Each weapon however, as well as radically change the way the prince approaches combat - for example the Coronacht arch requires you to keep some distance, it Aegis shield instead it allows for a breakthrough attack, and so on - it has ben available three different configurations, which transform the instrument both visually and in terms of gameplay, adding mutability and depth to the clashes.
However, the variability has just begun, as in full roguelike style, at the completion of each room the game puts us in front of some crossroads to choose, which will lead to obtaining the favor of this or that god of Olympus, which in addition to providing bonuses to the statistics, also add secondary effects to the attacks in question. For example i dons of the goddess Athena add buffering effects to moves, allowing you to parry bullets instead of dodging them, Afrodite on the other hand it can charm enemies, weakening the damage they inflict, Dionysus deal damage over time via Hangover, Zeus electrify the attacks, and so on. Proceeding through the rooms, a real one is created build, mixing and experimenting with always different and virtually infinite combinations, which push even more to start new runs to find perhaps that never-before-seen combo capable of radically reversing the way in which a particular weapon is used.
Last but not least, without wanting to spoil anything about why, just know that once you get to the bottom of the first escape the so-called Pact of Penalty, which leveraging the spirit of the most hardcore and hardened players, will add additional restrictions to subsequent runs, obviously in exchange for more delicious rewards depending on the number of penalties chosen before departure.
Style and personality
Although it is an isometric action with drawn graphics, and therefore we are not faced with the technical sector of the most modern blockbuster, the artistic direction of Jen Zee and the engaging music by Darren Korb manage to make Hades a joy for the eyes and ears too, as well as for the pad. The scenarios are colorful and detailed, with an atmosphere that varies radically from the hot volcanoes of theAsphodel to the peace of mind offered by Champs Elysees, obviously passing through the icy prison that is the Tartar. All the backgrounds are completely handmade, making the care and love that Supergiant has put into this project even more amazing. The animations, as well as enemy attacks, are always clear and neat regarding hitbox and reach, allowing you to move with surgical precision even in the most chaotic and coincidental situations, leaving Zagreus's fate completely to the player's ability.
Beyond all the features and facets that make up this small gem which is HadesFinally, I would like to add an even more personal note at the end of this review. This title has in fact reminded me of one of the most important columns of this medium, which is often also neglected in what are the impressions of the press or online discussions and not on the products of this market. It was really a long time in fact that I haven't I enjoyed it so genuinely playing a video game for the sake of it.
The pure fun that it causes to overcome the various challenges proposed in Hades - never banal, never predictable and never frustrating - it almost manages to add to the player, and it is for this reason that I feel I can really strongly advise all owners of PC or Nintendo Switch to give a chance to this project, which was born as a small indie, but which (and the metaphor is all there) is undoubtedly destined to enter theOlympus absolute of the genre, becoming a milestone and a cult absolute to look forward to in the future with admiration and respect.