I got the not-plat plat a few nights ago in Hades by Supergiant Games and it was timed brilliantly. Dionysus was the last Keepsake I needed to level up–or was it Poseidon. It was one of the two, probably Poseidon. I got it on the last combat room before the final boss and what a fitting end to the not-plat run. There are a few in-game achievements (Fated List of Minor Prophecies) that I would like to finish, but as they are very random, my interest will probably peter out before then. Anyway! As an expert in the game (wild, maniacally laughing), I have some tips for newbs who want to get into it, but are worried about the steep learning curve. I was going to tack them on at the end of the last post, but I ran out of steam. Plus, the post got out of control near the end so I decided to make the tips a post of its own. By the way, I found a really cute animated trailer for the game that I hadn’t seen before. I’ll post it below. I want Hades plushies!
Ed Note: I did a few more runs to clean up the Fated List and there is a bombshell that happens in the House of Hades. *spoiler* (Though the whole post could be considered spoilers?)
NYX FIRES DUSA!!!! I mean, what????? I’m pretty sure it was procked by finishing the Fated List. I mean, I knew there was tension there, but what??????? That can’t be the end of Dusa, can it? I had a hunch it wasn’t and I had a hunch I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t want to bumble around to figure it out. I Googled it and found out that you have to do more runs in order to get Nyx to rehire her. Sigh. I mean, I have to do it now, but what????? The problem is that Dusa is too hardworking and Nyx had admonished her more than once to CTFO. Dusa couldn’t because it’s not in her nature and she was working all the time. Nyx wanted efficient, not slavish obedience.
I may just give it a rest and come back to it, but I cannot let it lie. Damn it!
Think of it, though. I could have missed that whole bit if I hadn’t done that little bit of cleaning up.
OK. Top ten tips for n00bs. Or rather, as many as I can crank out before they become ‘choose a weapon’ or something basic like that. I want to say that I play in a very particular way so these tips are going to be based on my playstyle. I’m not claiming that they’re universal (though, they’re universal), but tips that helped/would have helped me in the beginning.
1. Use your cast. I’ve watched streamers of the game who merrily admit that they don’t use the cast and/or don’t see the point in using the cast. I’ve seen them play Souls games before and they pooh-pooh magic on the regs. Which, fine, whatever, but FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THE GODS USE YOUR FUCKING CAST. It’s free damage. One of them was complaining about how little damage it does, but it’s still free. In addition, you can buff it in so many ways that amps up the damage. I have literally melted (or froze) bosses with my cast before because of buffed-out boons. I cannot stress enough that it’s free damage! You start with one and can get up to three or one that quickly regens (in-game mechanic). You fire it off with B (Xbox One controller) and it comes back to you eventually. It takes no time, you do it without threat of being hurt, and you get a benefit from it. What more could you want? Again, I realize it’s the caster in me talking, but it hurts my soul to see people play the game and not use the cast. You don’t want to hurt me, do you?
2. Use the Mirror of Night in your bedchambers to buff your skills. At the beginning of the game, Nyx gives you a mirror that can upgrade your skills. It takes Chthonic Keys to unlock the talents (the first three or four are already unlocked in the beginning) and Darkness to level up the skills. Darkness looks like a purple teardrop/gemstone, which, is cute. I focused on getting the three Death Defiances, which, as you can probably surmise, allows you to defy death and the max health upgrade. Tough Skin, I think it’s called. Don’t be shy in using up that Darkness in the beginning by upgrading your skills whenever you return to the House of Hades.
3. Know thy playstyle. There are six weapons in the game and each is distinctly different. They are called the Infernal Arms and the lore behind them is fascinating. We’re not here for the lore, though. We’re here for tips! You start with Stygius, the Stygian Blade. Then, you use Chthonic Keys to unlock Varatha, the Eternal Spear (4)(your father’s spear back in the day, used to take down the Titans); Aegis, the Shield of Chaos (3); Coronacht, Heart-Seeking Bow (1); Malphon, Twin Fists of Malphon (8), and; Exagryph, Adamant Rail (8). After Stygius, the next three can be unlocked in any order. Then Malphon, and, finally, Exagryph.
Each weapon has its strengths and its weaknesses. I tend to use whatever weapon gave me extra darkness (had a purplish glow around it) but in the beginning, I stayed away from the railgun. I still don’t love it, tbh. I will say that I think the spear is a good newbie weapon because it has both range and melee options. I fell off it later because it didn’t seem as powerful as some of the other weapons. I heard similar thoughts from the streamers I watched. But, with its hidden aspect, you become a Glass Canon that can be quite exhilarating. My best weapons are Stygius and Malphon, apparently, by the number of runs I’ve cleared with each. Varatha has crept back up in my esteem in part because it helped me clear Heat 16.
Which brings me to the second point of this point. Choose your boons with care, knowing your playstyle. Me, I like to do my damage from afar and get my licks in where I can. I’m slow and my dodge ability is not great, so I will bump up my health so I can tank the hits. I like to have 250 HP by the time I hit the final boss (I start with 100) so I take the Centaur Heart (ups your max health by 25) whenever I can. In addition, I buy boons as often as I can early on at the shops. One of the streamers I watch saves her money for the end, which is fascinating to me. At least she doesn’t go into Charon’s shop. She will buy from the Well of Charon and usually snap up the health items. I thought about it and she was right. Spend a few coins to up your health a bit.
Anyway! Let’s move on so I can talk about the actual boons.
4. Pick the best boons. Now, this is where I go completely into my own opinions, which I’m sure will go against everything ‘the community’ says. One. Athena’s boons. Don’t give a fucking shit that it’s a crutch or whatever. It gets the job done. I doubt I would have been able to beat the final boss for the first time without her boons. What are her boons? DEFLECTION, BAY-BEEEE! She has other boons, but deflection is amazing. Her Call Aid is however many seconds of deflection which means I can run in and smash things without a care in the world. Dionysus offers a boon that replenishes all your health whenever you drink from a fountain and gives you attack bonuses. Ares boons are good and Zeus’s are fun. There are good boons from each god, but these are my faves.
5. Do not sleep on Hermes’ boons. I pooh-poohed them when I first saw them because they just add speed to shit. Not exciting, right? Well, for someone like me who sucks at reacting. Adding 1-4 extra dashes is incredible as is adding attack speed to Attack/Special/Cast. In addition, the boon that makes you sturdy (take less damage) after certain movements is great, too. Now, I’m careful to have at least one Hermes boon per run.
6. Visit everyone in the House of Hades between runs. This is not necessarily important for combat reasons, but my experience with Hades was enriched so much by talking to all the NPCs. I loved learning more about the various characters and how I related to them. I loved finding out the quirks of each of them and I was actually moved by some of the storylines.
There are 300,000 words in Hades. 300,000! Oh, by the way, I did a few runs is which I deliberately allowed the enemies to kill me in order to advance the Nyx/Dusa story. After four or so runs, Dusa was back and Nyx admitted I was right! I got more dialogue after the next few runs, not just from them, but from other characters around the House of Hades. Talk to everyone. Deepen your bonds. Not only will you get good shit from them, you’ll come to love them as I do. I have to admit, Dusa got on my nerves when I first met her because she mimicked the anxious chatter in my brain, but by the end, I really loved her. She was so genuinely sweet and kind, wanting the best for everyone.
You could go through the game not talking to any of the NPCs, but why would you? In fact, there’s a good in-game reason to talk to them. Follow me to the next point.
7. Talk to the NPCs for game reasons. You really should talk to the NPCs just because it adds context and lore, but if that’s not enough to convince you, then consider this. They give you stuff. For example, they give you Keepsakes when you give them Nectar (which can be a reward from a combat room). Because Cerberus is the best boy ever, he’s the one I got the my first Keepsake from. I pet him every time I go back to the House of Hades and when I got my first Nectar, of course I was going to give it to him. His Keepsake is Old Spiked Collar and it gives you a boost in health.
When you give a Nectar to an NPC, it fills a heart by their name in the Codex. After a certain amount of Nectars, you’ll reach a locked heart that you have to unlock by doing something different for each character. It’s never explicit, but it happens as you play the game. But! You have to talk to the characters a lot to get some of them to prock (and it’s called doing them a Favor). Anyway, after you unlock their heart, then you can give them Ambrosia. Once you do that, then you can max out their hearts and forge a strong bond with them. Which, sadly, does nothing but gives you a cute anime version of their face for your Codex. But! When you give certain characters their first Ambrosia, they give you a Companion in return that can help you out with a special attack associated with that NPC. For example, my personal favorite is Mort from Thanatos. When pressing LT, Than shows up and then does his circle of death thing for 3500 damage to anyone in the circle. It’s terrific, but it takes a while to prock, which can be frustrating at times.
Side note: It’s funny to read the reviews/guides for the game because I can tell that most of them did not 100% the game (which makes sense. They don’t have the time). For example, Polygon has a ‘complete’ list of Keepsakes that doesn’t include one. In fact, they specifically state that Hades does not give you a Keepsake, which is, incorrect! He does. It just happens waaaaaaaaaaay at the end of the game. I’m sympathetic because it takes a lot to get to specific circumstances, but maybe don’t state so confidently that Hades doesn’t give you a Keepsake? The game was in Early Access for nearly two years so perhaps the Hades Keepsake was added late to the game, but still.
Another example is mentioning that the Companions can’t be used against certain bosses (Meg’s against, the Furies, for example), which I saw in many reviews. Most mentioned that several of the Companions can’t be used against Hades since he technically employs most of the characters in the game. I found that out the hard way when I first got Mort. I saved him up (only had one use) to go against Hades. Imagine my frustration when I was not allowed to use him in that fight.
But! At some point, again, late in the game. I want to say post-credits, but I could be wrong. It’s all a blur at this point. I go to talk to my pops in the House of Hades or maybe as we’re fighting, and he says something about using all the tools at my disposal or some such. There are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled in order for this to happen, but then I could use any Companion against Hades. And I do, believe you me. And when I do (usually Thanatos), Hades will make some disparaging comment such as, “Thanatos has more important work to do.”
8. Check the Wikis if you’re confused about anything. In keeping with all the questions I had about the game, the Wikis are your best friend for shit like this. As a long time Souls fan, I am all about the Wikis. Don’t know what Nectar does? Look it up. Don’t know what the symbols above the door are? Wiki it! I will admit that I didn’t look much up in the beginning and just did whatever, but it can be frustrating to operate in that manner.
9. Prepare to die. A lot. Look. Maybe you’re a whiz at this game and will beat a run on your first try. If so, you do you and disregard everything I’ve written. If, however, you’re more like me, the combat can be an exercise in frustration. I can’t tell you how many times I was close to quitting. It took me several runs before I even saw the final boss, let alone beat him. That probable took me twenty to thirty runs. It was so grueling, I thought about quitting. Then, I almost beat the boss maybe seven or eight runs later, which spurred me to keep playing. Then, at some point relatively soon, I beat the final boss again. Then a few runs later, again. Now, I beat him more often than not and go in feeling I have a chance most of the time.
When I was doing my not-plat run, I went back to Heat Zero to make the runs (and combat) as fast and easy as possible. I was astonished at how easily I just cruised through it all. Granted, I was tricked out to the max with all the Mirror of Night traits that boosted me overall. It was as close to automatic as possible, which was such a difference when I first started the game.
I have to say now that I’ve completed the not-plat plat, I am really glad I stuck it out and didn’t resort to God Mode (you take less damage after each run in which you died, capped at 80% less damage) because I knew it wouldn’t be as satisfying for me to win that way. But, my point is, there’s that option if you need it, and you can turn it on and off at will.
Lastly, and this is not a tip, enjoy the ride. This is an incredible game. My co-leader for GOTY (along with Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games) thus far and one that is so rewarding when you finally get the hang of it. If you had told me when I first started playing this game that I would one day plat the game, I would have laughed in your face. Now, I’m just laughing in sheer joy.