Underneath my yellow skin

Hades: more game for your game

A week after I saw the credits roll in Hades, I’m still firing it up every day. Why? A little for the combat, somewhat because it’s soothing and comforting (it’s my new Binding of Isaac), but mostly for the lore. That sweet, sweet, Greek lore. Again, this is all going to be spoilers if you haven’t seen the credits and played beyond it. Fair warning before I jump into the meat of the post. All spoilers, all the time. Spoilers for DAYS.

You’d think with all the content I’d experienced so far that SuperGiant would be satisfied to rest on their laurels and say, “Good job, us!” with a satisfied nod. It took me roughly fifty hours to see end credits because I am bad at the game. Or I was. Now, I win more runs than not and my personal best was five wins in a row. I’m on Heat 7 with the sword, which–ok. I need to explain this. One of the genius touches of the game is how they do NG+ and beyond. Most games just start you at the beginning again and make the enemies harder. In a roguelike, there may not be any NG+ at all. In this game, each run is called a heat. The first is Heat 0 (which I call Heat Zero for clarity), which is your basic New Game. There are four floors with a boss at the end of the floor. When you beat the final boss, a mechanic called the Pact of Punishment is introduced and it has modifiers that increase the heat. You can increase as much as you want, but you’re only going to get the rewards for the appropriate heat. So, in this case, Heat 1, you need one pain point. My go-to is adding what is essentially a shield to each enemy which means they can take one free hit.

Also, you have to beat each heat (well, except Heat Zero) with each weapon in order to advance to the next heat with that weapon. There are different aspects of each weapon, including hidden ones. I have to say, I love the hidden aspects of the weapons because they’re named for famous people. Like the sword’s hidden aspect is Excalibur, wielder, Arthur. The spear is a really interesting one. Guan Yu. Gives you much more power, but a third of your health. So you’re very much a glass canon. Ugh. I just read how to unlock one of the hidden aspects I don’t have and it’s not going to be fun. At all.

This is one complaint I have about the game. The grind gets super grindy. At this point, I’m pretty much over the combat and am in it for the lore. I’ve united Orpheus and Eurydice, and I’ve done the same with Achilles and Patroclus. I’m having an interesting relationship with Dusa, the Gorgon head who is a helpful maid in the House of Hades. I’ve been giving her Nectar/Ambrosia (how to bond with people) and while she’s appreciative at first, she then tells me she can’t take it because it makes Nyx mad. What, huh? Why does Nyx not want me talk to Dusa? I haven’t figured that out yet, but at least she’s allowed to talk to me again.

The thing, though, is that so many of the things rely on randomness. I went down Sisyphus’s questline and was able to find his contract. I had the diamonds needed to null and void it, which, great! Then, I had to find him in order to tell him so he would give me his companion. Normally, I found him on every third or fourth run (he’s on the first floor), but I could not find him for ten or so runs. I looked it up to see if I missed a step, but I hadn’t. I just needed to find him, and I wasted many of my Fated Authorities (being able to alter a room) trying to find him. I was getting frustrated when I finally found his room–after visiting Chaos (we’ll get to them in a minute). There’s a better chance of finding it while visiting Chaos because they often offer three rooms from which to choose rather than one or two.

Let’s talk about Chaos a moment. No, wait. I’ll get to them in a bit. When I finally found Sisyphus, I was so happy to tell him and Bouldy (long story) that he was free! I went through so much sweat and tears to void his contract/pact and I was jubilant to tell him about it. I mean, he did ask me about it, right??? So what does he say when I tell him? “Thanks, Prince, but I’m staying put.” I mean, what? He did give me his companion, Shady, who is pretty cool, but not really worth it. The best companion by far is Than’s, which is Mort the Mouse. Well that and Antos the Ant, which is Achilles’ companion. Using the latter summons Achilles and Patroclus to do damage to two foes. Which makes them perfect for the third floor boss(es). But Mort summons Than who does 3500 damage. Hands down the best. Shady is very cute and unique in that he gives treasures as he drops, but he wasn’t worth the grind.

As I mentioned above, the grind is real. I’m trying to fulfill a prophecy that involves Orpheus and a lyre, and I should be at the point where I can close it out. I need him to talk about it with me, but he’s refusing to do it. I thought maybe I needed to max out our bond, which I did. Nothing. I’ve practiced the lyre every time before a run. Nothing. I know I’m on the last stage, but I can’t get it to push over. I’m at the point where if I don’t get what I want from the NPCs in a given run (or they’re not there), I get mad. I feel like it’s a waste and that’s when I’ve very aware of the gamefication in this game.

I know there’s an epilogue because I was looking through the achievements. I have most of them. I am NOT going to try to plat it. Or not-plat it. There are a few I know I can’t get so I won’t bother. There are others, well, one that would take forever to do and I don’t want to. Last night, I played Dark Souls III for the first time in months and I had a hard time with the buttons because of how much Hades I’ve been playing. I’ve also forgotten how fucking fragile you are at the beginning of that game and I died a few more times than I should have. Well, really, I shouldn’t have died at all since I didn’t fight a boss so that goes to show how much out of practice I was. It was nice to dip my toe in the DS pool again, but I’m still not ready to jump back in.

The strength of Hades is the writing, but it’s hampered by the fact that it’s dribbled out in drips and drabs. At this point, the combat is whatever. Yes, each run is different because they’re procedurally generated and because of all the different boons., but after a certain amount of time, they begin to blend in together. Oh, and because of the different weapons, too. I don’t care about any of that. I just want to find out why Nyx is so adamant about me not talking to Dusa, what will happen when the Olympic gods find out the true story, and if there’s any happily ever after. I just don’t know if I have the will to keep escaping Hades again and again to achieve that end. Check in next week to see if I’ve finally broken free.

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