Underneath my yellow skin

I can’t quit you, Hades

#heyboohey
I never want to leave you, Than.

I’ve been trying to quit Hades by Supergiant Games for weeks now. Every time I think I’m out, I get sucked back in. “I’ll just try one more run,” I say. Then it’s one or two more runs every day (each run takes at least half an hour and up to forty-five minutes).

My issues with the game are still there. It’s very twitch-based and I feel as if my success is based on what boosts I get rather than my skills. Also, the insane ramp-up of the last boss and the fact that he

 

*Spoilers*

Has a fucking second phase. I can’t tell you how enraged I was when I thought I beat him for the first time and then had to go through a second phase with only one rez left. Honestly, I think if I hadn’t managed to eke out the win, I would have quit then and there. I still don’t know how I did it because it was very build-specific. I know I had a regen ability after dying and reviving plus a shit-ton of defensive perks, but that’s it.

*Unspoilered*

The problem with the game is that I can make it through the first three floors with relative ease depending upon build. The last time I died for good on the third floor (which was yesterday) was because I had an awful build and was using the shield which I don’t understand. Oh, and I hate the railgun and refuse to use it. I don’t think I’ve beaten the third floor with it yet. I can usually get to the third floor boss without losing a life and I consider it shameful to lose two to the third floor boss. One is acceptable, barely, and no lives loss is optimal, obviously.

You see, I don’t feel comfortable facing the fourth floor boss with anything less than four revives (I pick up an extra before the fourth floor) and even then, I feel like my odds of beating him are 50/50 at best. Everything has to line up exactly right in order for me to win and I have to be at my very best for the whole fight. It’s very dispiriting to be on cruise control for the whole game only to have the final boss wipe the floor with you.

A few days ago, I went in to face him with only two rezzes while using the…I want to say spear. Might have been the bow. Some kind of ranged weapon. I knew I was going to lose so I was pretty loose going into the fight. And for some reason, I wasn’t losing. I mean, I wasn’t winning, but I didn’t get killed immediately. And I made it to the second phase, which floored the hell out of me. I tensed up because of the possibility that I might win. I mean, I knew I wouldn’t make it through the second phase with no rez, but I did it before!

Never hope. It’s the killer of all the looseness I had previously accrued. I actually did fairly well and got the boss down to roughly a fifth health. I dared to allow myself to believe–and then dead with about a tenth of his health left. I was not mad at it because I had never expected to win. The fact that I came so close roped me back into the game.

It gave me that dastardly hope again. If I had just had one more rez, I would have won that fight. What was my build? Dunno. Tons of attack boons, I think. I really try to go hard in one direction because spreading the boons across several categories is never a good idea. Never.

So yesterday I was doing a spear run on zero heat (NG, if you will) and beefing up my defense with my boons. I have a particular fondness for Demeter’s boons because they have a chill effect that slows down the enemies. She also offers a health regen boon if you die and revive, and other health boons. Thanks, *spoilers*, Gramma! *unspoilered* 

Some of my frustrations still continue. I can deal with the mobs better, but I still think they’re over the top. A few of the mechanics of the game on the non-combat side are annoying as fuck. There’s a thing where you give Nectar to different NPCs in order to strengthen your bond with them. They give you a keepsake the first time. Fine. Dandy. All good. But, you can keep giving them Nectar and…profit? A heart fills in your Codex for that NPC every time you give them a Nectar. At a certain point, the heart has a lock and you can’t give the NPC any more Nectar. I looked it up and you have to fulfill some secret requirement or mission for the NPC in order to unlock that heart. Cool, cool, but you don’t know what it is ahead of time. There’s no indication. Which is deflating. I was able to unlock Cerberus’s heart by petting him twenty times (so the Wikis tell me) and I’ve maxed out my bond with him by giving him Ambrosia. What it gives me? I couldn’t tell you because I don’t notice any difference. Still. Cerberus is the best doggo ever and I still pet him every time I’m back in the House of Hades.

One of the strengths of the game is the soap opera that occurs between each run. This review by Matt Miller at Game Informer highlights how samesy each run can get. The soap opera is a way to have something between the runs to help break up the monotony. By the way, in rereading this article, I read about the ‘god mode’ of which I did not know (because nothing is explained in game, really). In a nutshell, you get more defense each time you die with a cap of 80% damage reduction.

That’s incredible. Will my pride allow me to use it? I dunno. I may start a new file with it on, but I don’t know if I want to put that energy into it. Then again, with that on, I could zip through it at a fraction of the time I’ve spent on the game already. Argh. I almost wish I didn’t know this.

Anyway, back to the soap opera. I have an interest in Thanatos and Megaera. I’ve learned that I’m really close to both. Well, I was close to Megaera but–just considered this whole part filled with spoilers–but then I decided to leave Hades and she left my bedchambers. Now, we’re locked in an eternal fight, but I’m still trying to win her back. In the meantime, Than (Thanatos) shows up from time to time, and we fight side by side in a competition. If I win, he gives me more life. If he wins, well, then we just have a chat before he leaves.

I’d been giving him all the Nectar I could before hitting his locked heart. I got to it ages ago and had no idea what I needed to unlock it. Our story deepened, and we talked about what we meant to each other. We were both honest in not knowing what was happening between us. He mentioned Megaera. Things got awkward. He showed up for another friendly competition during one run and there was an arrow zooming animation that indicated I had unlocked his heart. Wait, what? I wanted to go back to the House of Hades so I could talk to him immediately, but I waited until the end of the run. I gave him an Ambrosia and in return, he gave me Mort. Mort??? What? Mort is a…mouse? I think? And one of Thanatos’s boon companion. Who is now my companion. He does a circle of death for 3500 damage once an encounter, but there is trinket I can buy from the Well of Charon that gives me one extra. It’s the same circle of death I’ve seen Thanatos use in our competition. It’s very powerful. Ed Note: After trying to use it Mort in the final boss fight and not being able to, I Googled. Each companion is locked out of certain fights and the two I now have (the other is Battie, from Megaera. My two boos) aren’t usable in the final fight. So what’s the fucking point? 

I do know from the Wikis that other NPCS will give me companions, but I don’t know how to get them to that stage. All the Wikis just say to do the NPC’s mission, which as I might have mentioned, aren’t talked about at any time. I’m pretty sure I have to do more talking to my favorite NPCs, but that’s just a guess on my part.

I want to be done with this game, but I just can’t quit it. Now knowing about God Mode, I have to decide if I want to ‘cheat’ or not. It’s not technically cheating, but my Dark Souls heart constricts at the idea of deliberately making it easier. Then again, when I used to play Dead Cells, I had buffs that decreased damage up to 75%. Until the final boss, apparently.

As I have said about this game every time I’ve written about it, it’s a fantastic game–I just wish it were more for me.

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