There are thousands of video games out there, but what’s worth playing? Today let’s talk about:
Hades: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Mac / PC
Hades was a game I was looking forward to; Hades is a rogue-like dungeon crawler with a ¾ top down view with procedurally generated rooms so you never get the same experience twice. Like Dead Cells where if you die, you go back to the start; I enjoyed Dead Cells but wanted something with a bit more plot and more engagement.
In Hades you play as Zagreus, prince of the underworld and son of Hades, God of the underworld. The Greek mythology is thick and heavy in Hades, so if that’s not your bag, at least stick around for the gameplay. Zagreus is a teenage demi-god and wants to escape hell, and hell in this game is a bureaucratic nightmare of paperwork and tedium that he one day might have to run.
But as a rebellious teen, he wants to walk all the way up to heaven where the other gods, his aunts and uncles, cheerfully await him as Hades is such an old fuss pot that it seems sort of silly that anyone would ever want the job.
The gameplay is fun, giving you a variety of attacks from ranged to melee to spells, and it’s not too much to keep track of as you slash, shoot, and dodge your way through various mythological depictions of the underworld. BUT where Hades knocks it out of the park is in the storytelling.
Unlike Dead Cells, you get to keep all the stuff you find along the way, making your victory all but certain. Old games in the 1980s could just get so relentlessly difficult that you either had to be inconceivably good or you would just give up. Here, if you just keep playing, eventually you will win so it doesn’t feel insurmountable. The best part about that is that as you die and respawn, you have conversations with people, learn about them, can bring them gifts that make you stronger, or add other permanent boosts to your character, motivating you to keep going.
I like that the game designers get that there are infinite games and why should I keep playing this after I die 10 times when I could play something else is sort of covertly addressed here. It’s not Dead Cells where you pretty much restart, you are leveling up AND restarting AS the story is progressing. Jeez, Hades, the boss of the game, is just sitting there doing paperwork while you walk past him saying “When will you learn that there is no escape” and your character isn’t a whiny brat; someone did escape, and they want to as well. It’s determination and grit on display, not, “you can’t tell me what to do old man” and it keeps the character charming rather than grating.
1: Getting Keys is helpful early to unlock things, but don’t feel like you need to ONLY get them. Having a variety of loot is helpful as a shop is eventually unlocked allowing you to trade things you need.
2: If you give Cerberus a gift, he’ll give you a collar that nearly doubles your hit points early in the game. Skelly the Skeleton in the training section also has an excellent trinket you can get with a gift. Oddly, giving the Olympians gifts seems less helpful as it makes their boons stronger, but since they are random, you might not meet them on your escape attempt.
3: Upgrade your healing so you’re more likely to stay alive. Make sure you max out your “resurrection power” too but also having “double dodge” is a must. Being able to get out of the way becomes crucial later in the game. When you have your dodge maxed out and you find a boon that will create damaging effects from dodging, you might not even need to attack!
Check out Captain Chris's article "Games Worth Playing: Secret of Mana".