HADES REVIEW FOR PC AND NINTENDO SWITCH. As is now essentially tradition, developer Supergiant Giants has spent three years making a new game that is polished and filled to the brim with exciting content. Bastion (2011), Transistor (2014), Pyre (2017), and now Hades (2020) enjoy critical acclaim and hardcore support from fans. During its early access period, we could see that Hades was going to be something special, but wow has the 1.0 blown me away. This is the Game Revolution review.
As with any Supergiant Games title, it’s the presentation that initially draws the player in. Hades looks visually stunning with a style that complements the Greek mythology it incorporates. The different levels of the underworld are clearly distinguished and populated with unique traps. Animations are smooth and combat visuals look awesome and dangerous.
Hades tells a compelling story that also pushes the player towards multiple completions. Though it took me 14 hours to reach the ending, I must now complete it again to learn more, which I plan to do after hitting “Publish” on this review!
The highlight, though, is the design of the gods that assist and hinder protagonist Zagreus as he attempts to escape hell, against the wishes of his father, Hades. Though they are stationary in appearance, each god oozes charisma with superb voice acting that covers hours and hours of dialogue. As a player, I look forward to meeting my favorite gods and developing a relationship for additional benefits. Before you know it, you’re immersed and loving it!
Battling out of Hell
Boons from the gods, as well many other items and buffs, will help Zagreus on his path through the underworld. Thankfully, Zagreus is already pretty powerful and fun to play as, with a host of different weapons that can really shake up the way he controls. As silly as it might sound, I found the shield and bow to be most satisfying in my 20+ hours of play, though I’m looking forward to using swords and spears as I put in countless more time.
Combat is smooth and satisfying, with even the Nintendo Switch satisfying the 60 FPS frame-rate for the most part. Zagreus largely depends on dashing about the screen to avoid deadly blasts and benefits from invincibility frames that are a delight to master. Once there’s an opening to attack, Zag has three move types at his disposal, along with a devastating “Call” function that is unlocked after a few runs.
It will be different this time
The randomized Boons largely dictate which moves you’ll be using. While one run might see the player spamming Special attacks for the entire session, another might push Zag down a path of switching between Attack and Cast. For the most part, there is enough flexibility in the Boon choices to keep players feeling lethal, but you can sometimes be forced to use a less exciting build. This provides its own unique challenge but can make that particular run less fun. (Of course, you can always just hit “Give up” and try again.)
Occurrences of a “bad build” are very rare, however, with Zag often enhanced beyond belief into an overpowered underworld-shattering specimen. Whether it’s from the lightning-charged buffs that Zeus provides or the “Drunk” status effects allowed by Dionysus, or any of the many gods in between, there’s always an exciting upgrade around the corner.
Roguelite in the darkness
In addition to Boons, Zag can find other items like coins, Centaur Hearts, Daedalus’ Hammers, and Pom of Powers to enjoy per-run buffs. These allow for more choices and enhancements to make each run more unique. What’s more, upon death Zag doesn’t totally reset. Permanent upgrades can be purchased using the Darkness currency, as well as Gemstones and an Ambrosia treat.
It’s these permanent upgrades that will be a key focus in the early game, as Zagreus is likely to fall at the first boss. The next time around, he’ll have a better grasp on combat, additional health, and a new weapon. It’s the progression over the time that remains addicting, without becoming repetitive. Even after 100 hours, players will still be uncovering new ways to play and equipment combinations.
Time to burn
The speed at which you can rise through the depths of hell also helps avoid the feeling of repetition. Though areas may become familiar, their layouts and enemy types are randomized. What took 20 minutes before may only take five with Zag’s new upgrades. Chasing Boons for your “ultimate build” powers an addiction that will have you replaying over and over again in the same session.
Though the PC version can run at higher resolutions and frame-rates, it’s the Nintendo Switch edition that I’ve spent the most time with. It’s easy to put in a 30-minute session during a break, knowing that you’re going to kill hundreds of enemies and fight a bunch of bosses in quick succession, with no busywork to hold you back. Though you can sink in hundreds of hours, Hades still respects the player’s time.
Hades Review | The Final Verdict
Provided you can handle the fast-paced combat that Hades throws at you, which can be a little stressful, this game is a must-play. Whether it’s on PC or Nintendo Switch, this title runs incredibly smoothly with god-tier responsiveness in controls. It’s Supergiant Games’ best title yet, which is saying something as I loved Bastion, and a serious Game of the Year 2020 contender.
Hades takes the hated cycle of retrying the same checkpoint over and over again, flips it on its head with rewarding progression, and makes the player genuinely look forward to starting anew. There really is nothing like it with this level of polish and execution. Gods, it’s impressive!
Hades was reviewed on PC (Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, RTX 2070) and Nintendo Switch with code provided by the publisher.