Am I going to talk about Hades. Yes. Am I going to gush about how great the game is? Kinda. Am I going to talk about what a thirst-trap the game is? Yup! Am I going to talk about the lore? Hell, yeah! Am I going to keep asking rhetorical questions? Nope!
SuperGiant Games have absolutely hit it out of the park with this game. It’s fucking brilliant and it’s replaced Binding of Isaac as my go-to for a daily roguelike run. It has quite a ways to go before I put in anything close to the amount of time I put into BoI. I’m actually surprised by how little (relatively) time I’ve put into Hades given how much I feel like I’m playing it.
I’ve mentioned before that I never got into any of the prior SuperGiant Games. They’re all really great graphically and game-wise, but none of them clicked with me. I *really* wanted to like Transistor because I loved the mood, the graphics, and everything about the game–except the gameplay. I could not get into it and found the controls awkward and counterintuitive. When Hades came out of early release, I was hesitant to get it. I had heard all the accolades and how great it was. I watched NL play some of it and agreed it was a great game. I was tired of BoI and hadn’t found a roguelike to replace it. It was on sale and there had been across-the-board good reviews for it. I finally bought it and, holding my breath, I gave it a shot.
I sucked at it, but damn it felt good. The graphics are gorgeous; the writing is great; the music is tight, and; the gameplay just feels right. It’s smooth and snappy, and it has that ‘just one more run’ feel to it. But, and I cannot stress this enough, the learning curve is steep in the beginning. I’m watching Johnny Chiodini start a new save file for a charity stream and it’s bringing back memories as to how difficult it was in the beginning. I tried to clear up a few achievements that negated many of the upgrades and even with the goosed-up weapons, it was rough. I quit, in fact. Plus, I just tried a run with the sword after unlocking one of the aspects of the spear (Poseidon, in this case) and it’s so under-leveled. I’m trying to do a Heat Nine run and it’s not great with an aspect of a weapon that only has one level.
It’s funny, though. It probably took thirty runs or so before I was able to beat the final boss. I wasn’t able to duplicate it for at least fifteen more runs. I got within a hair’s breadth of it around that point which pushed me to continue. I won again soon after, then again. That made me stoked to keep going. Now, I win more often than I lose and I’ve had a…six win streak? I think? It might be five. Pretty sure it’s six. Anyway, I’ve gotten better. Or rather, Zagreus has. That’s the point.
Let’s talk thirst trap. I have to laugh when Aoife (Eurogamer) and Johnny slaver at all the hotties in the game, but I can’t blame them. Almost everyone in the game is hot from Hades on down to Megaera. In his stream, Johnny asked whom everyone ‘shipped. He was all about Megaera and joked it was like Mass Effect where you always take the same romantic options. I was like, “Why stick to one?”, but he hasn’t beaten the game yet, so he probably doesn’t realize you can romance everyone. Or rather, more than one person at a time. Using person in the loosest sense, of course. Currently, I’m bonking both Thanatos and Megaera and–MASSIVE SPOILER–I’ve declared my feelings for Dusa, the house maid. Who is a gorgon head. What a great pun.
At first, I didn’t like her because she’s a very nervous and chittery, and, honestly, she reminds me of my inner voice. The worst part of me, I mean. But, as time went on, she won me over by being so sweet and kindhearted. She’s the nicest person in the game, but she has a backstory that hints at something darker. She’s related to the famous gorgon, Medusa, but doesn’t like to talk about it. Why does she only have a head? She refuses to say. At first, Zag just asks her about her work and whatnot. When they become better friends, he starts asking more personal questions such as why she didn’t do the hiss. She demonstrated that she could do the hiss (and looked so adorable), but that she wanted to fit in. When he asked about her connection with other gorgons and why she didn’t have a body, she shut him down quick.
I liked that they were getting close. I thought they were just becoming friends, but then it started edging toward FEELING feelings, at least on Zag’s side, and he had to be honest with her about his feelings. She didn’t feel the same way and was so sweet about it, though flustered, An interesting thing is that at some point, she offers to give back all the Ambrosia I gave her because she felt bad taking them under false pretense (although she didn’t realize his feelings for her) and I took them back when I realized she really didn’t mind. I had been short on them and was worried about getting more because I want to max out my relationships with, well, everyone, so I was relieved to get them back. Now, I’m swimming in Ambrosia. I need more Titan Blood, which I get from beating the first floor boss and the fourth floor boss.
Anyway. Back to Dusa. Nyx does not like me talking to her for some unknown reason. In fact, at some point, she forbade Dusa from talking to me and dressed her down for being derelict in her duty. It’s weird because I’ve sassed Nyx about it and declared that she couldn’t tell me who I could be friends with. She tried to tell me that everyone has their place and that I was interfering with Dusa’s job. It didn’t make any sense because Nyx is so kind to everyone other than Dusa. When I tried to talk to Dusa about it, she blubbered about how Nyx wanted her to be kinder to herself, more confident, and recognize when she’s reached her limits. I have no idea what the real story is there and I’m hoping to find out.
The bottom line is, we’re for all eternity friends. And I really like her. Was never wanting to bonk her, but apparently, Zag had a different feeling about it.
I reached the epilogue, which was definitely underwhelming. I was hoping for family dysfunction to explode in everyone’s face. Instead, it was all kumbaya and we’re so happy for everyone! There is more story going on afterwards, but I think we’re reaching the land of diminishing returns. I don’t think there’s any other big reveal, though I could be wrong.
I have to say, I never thought I’d come this far in the game. I’ve forged a strong bond with all the NPCs except…Aphrodite. It’s funny how in a thirst trap game the one NPC whom I don’t want to bonk is the Goddess of Love. I never really cared for her, though, in the mythology I’ve read. She’s petulant and narcissistic, vain and insecure, and I want nothing to do with her. I haven’t advanced our relationship enough to even be able to offer her Ambrosia at this point. And I’ve maxed out everyone else! I begrudgingly gave her Nectar the last time I saw her just because I want to finish that off. I believe she’s the last person I need to forge a strong bond with, but I’m not completely sure.
That’s one of the small criticisms I have for the game–it makes you want to forge these bonds with different characters, but then it does nothing with it. You get nothing for forging a strong bond with a character except for an anime version of their face in the Codex by their name. Granted, the anime faces are unbearably adorable, but it’s still not really worth all the work you need to do to get to that point. That’s not completely fair. You get really good lore out of it and other intangibles, but nothing concrete.
I’m slowing down on my desire to pay the game, but I still get pulled in despite myself. Another sign of a good game.