Sunday, November 21, 2021

Hades (Lots of systems, 2020)


The King of the Roguelikes, and the ultimate evolution of / successor to games like Smash TV. I played this on both the Playstation 5 and the Nintendo Switch OLED and it was pretty much the same deal on both.

Brought to you by Raid: Shadow Legends and the Lawn Mower 3.0!

In this game you play as Zagreus, the son of Hades. In a situation anyone with a bad job is familiar with, he's trapped in an endless repetitive cycle of trying unsuccessfully to escape from the underworld, reliving the same day over and over again. In other words, this is a game designed to be played a zillion times over, since your character traits carry over each time you do and you gradually unlock more stuff.

Here's Hades, the final boss of the game, your dad, and the main antagonist. The entire game is basically centered around getting strong enough to take this guy down.

Here's the bar, where all kinds of ruffians and weird ghost-souls hang out.

People who like or have studied Greek mythology will get a huge kick out of this game because EVERYBODY is here.

Zagreus' room is a mess, which Hades gives him grief about. Here's the Black Mirror (Season 6 plz) where you spend currency on fabulous new abilities.

The most important one to get by far is Death Defiance, followed by Thick Skin. However eventually you can get all of them by just continuing to play.

The visuals are pretty nice in this game, sort of a borderline retro style in crisp HD.

The artifact collection, obviously I'm missing a ton of stuff. The Lucky Tooth is what I found to be the most useful early on, as it gives you an extra level of Death Defiance.

Most of the game transpires in Tartarus, the labyrinth leading out of the underworld. There are four main levels: Base Tartarus, the fire zone Asphodel, Elysium, and Hades' chambers.

Every time you clear a room of enemies, you get rewarded with either currency or a new powerup to choose from. Most powerups get reset after you die / reset the labyrinth, so each time through can be a completely different experience. Gradually you can accumulate the powerups that don't disappear, like enhancements from the mirror, new weapons, and new equippable artifacts.

The gameplay itself is great, and it plays vaguely like a top-down Mega Man X series game. Lots of dashing and striking here. The initial weapon is a sword, but you get a bunch of other weapons as it progresses, like a long-distance spear and a rapid-fire gun.

All of the temporary powerups are from different Greek mythological figures, like Aphrodite. PUT ON SOME CLOTHES, WOMAN.

Sometimes you have good luck and get a potent set of powerups, sometimes your luck isn't so good. I generally stick to powering up the dash and the regular attack.

Most of the enemies aren't much to write home about and they're more fodder than anything else. However, special note needs to be made of Grabbyhands McGee, seen here groping and grasping.

Occasionally you're forced into a showdown with Thanatos, who tests you by competing with you to see who can slay the most enemies in one minute. You never actually fight him, which is a shame because his design is incredibly bad-ass. Maybe in a DLC?

Here's the pants-less wonder, Artemis.

Get killed in the labyrinth and it resets you, where Hypnos the peanut gallery always has some snide quip.

Zagreus and Hades bicker endlessly in-between Zagreus' deaths.

He has a point, his desk IS more organized.

Here's Cerberus, who is freakish and horrifying. The game plays it off as if he is adorbs and sweet, which is hilarious. Basically he isn't as bad as everyone thinks.

Most of the game comes down to room-clearing. After a while you notice that there are ghost-spectators all over the place, looking on creepily, not unlike the studio audiences of the Smash TV type games.

More like an eternity of playing these four levels over and over again! This game is fantastic, don't get me wrong, but I can't imagine playing this 80 times like Jirard the Completionist did. The four levels get very redundant after a while. Would have been cool if they'd broken it up into, say, eight levels, while retaining the same overall game length. Just to break up the visual themes more.

Here's Ares, who hasn't been murdered by Kratos yet.

Here's the first boss, MEG. More like......Mehhhhg.

Since everyone in this game is immortal, bumping into the same people over and over again during all of your reincarnations makes sense.

Here's my favorite attack, the Bull Rush (shield dash). You charge it up, aim it with this arrow, and body-crash forward. While charging, you're also blocking, making this great defensively.

The first boss seems like a huge hill to climb the first few times you fight her, but she is the easiest boss in the game by a good margin and you can blast right past this fight later.

Between levels, the game is nice enough to give you a shop and some restored health. But can it protect you from the people who think this game is witchcraft and don't understand why we stopped burning heretics? Trial by mob opinion went out a long time ago...thank God.

Speaking of heretic-burning, you can use coins to buy temporary powerups from Charon. More on the Boatman of the Styx later.

Here's another pants-less wonder, Hermes. Best known for his ability to sprint, which had him winning numerous Mt. Olympus running competitions (until they finally allowed people from Kenya to compete, and Hermes placed 39th)

Next up is stage 2, the Lava Reef Zone. Some new enemies here and various lava to watch out for. This is also where El Salvador powers their fully-sustainable Bitcoin mining.

Here's Nyx, who always has something interesting to say.

The weapon collection of Zagreus. Once you've got them all unlocked with currency, they're all interesting in their own way. You've got a sword, spear, shield, bow, fists, and an AR-15. The only one I wasn't too crazy about is the bow because it's slow to fire. Everything it does, the gun does better. I used the spear a lot early on, then generally bounced between the shield and gun.

Zeus has some of the best possible powerups you can get in the stages. All of his attacks are lightning-based.

Lightning Strike gives you electric procs that bounce off of enemies and hit other enemies. Combine this with the gun to wreak absolute havoc on DPS because your shots turn into ricochet-ing electric balls.

Taking in the sights down here in HELL

The boss of this area is the bone hydra, probably the closest thing the game has to a standard giant monster boss. It summons other heads from the lava to attack, and is generally a good fight to use as a punching bag for your latest moves.

The third area is Elysium, and it's actually pretty. But don't be deceived, because the enemies get WAY tougher here.

This is an ideal ability set from Zeus. Power up Lightning Strike AND Storm Lightning and just obliterate everything. Unfortunately, most of the time the game doesn't give you these abilities.

Stage 3 has a miniboss, Asterius the Bull. This guy is a fearsome brawler, but he isn't that difficult.

He's about as strong as the first boss in the game, and not what you'd expect from level 3. The reason for this... that he's just one half of the actual boss fight, where he teams up with Theseus for a music revolution.

Zagreus calls the nicest place in the game "stodgy"


Theseus is a real jerk, as well he should be, because this fight is a total roadblock. Easily the hardest thing in the game besides the final boss, and maybe even more of an issue than that for a new player.

The key is to focus on one of the two first, then the other. I took out the Minotaur first because it was much easier to focus on him while ignoring Theseus than vice-versa. Once Theseus reaches half-health he starts dropping huge AOE bombs, so it's key to not let his HP get that far while the Minotaur is still around.

After winning, I notice that there are veritable HERDS of these creepy ghost-people hovering around and looking on creepily.

Level 4 gives us Cerberus, but again, not as a battle. Instead you have to find a randomly-placed food bag somewhere in the level that'll get Cerberus to leave. In other words level 4 can be either really short or really long. I've gotten the bag after 6 antechambers and I've gotten it after 2, and anything in-between.

Whenever you talk to Charon, Zagreus always has something to say, then...

...Charon always responds this way before going back to paddling his boat or whatever it is he does here.

The fourth level consists of a bunch of small rooms with plague rat enemies that are incredibly annoying. Just go through and hope you find the food bag quick, which...

...allows you to "vanquish" Cerberus by sending him on his way. You MONSTER.

That gets us to the final boss, who resides in a gorgeous area. Sorta reminds me of the final boss of Bloodborne, who also resides in a gorgeous area and stands there looking at the moon.

Short version: "HEY I'M GRUMP"

I UNLEASH HELL with the AR-15, powered-up by Zeus. This weapon is so fantastically good...if you're lucky and get the right powerups.

Check out the lightning procs flying off of him. This is great for adds, since the lightning procs tend to zap towards the nearest target and ricochet for more damage.

Defeat him once and he HULKS UP.

His second form is much, much stronger than his first, and the reason why he's the toughest fight in the game. He routinely goes temporarily-invulnerable, summons more adds, and has much bigger attacks.

Hades' greatest attack unleashes FIERY DEATH BEAMS. You do NOT want to get caught up in these.

There we go, gotta use the environment to help you win. The gun gives me range which helps a ton, though I also found dashing through him with the shield to work.

Win the fight and it gives you the rundown of stats. I managed to beat the game 3x, twice with the shield and once with the gun.

After winning, Zagreus continues into the surface world. Apparently he was mortally wounded in the fight, but he limps around regardless.

The sun rises, and man, this game looks GOOD

Continue on and you find the gardens of Persephone, Zagreus' mother. He gets to talk to her for a minute before succumbing to his wounds, and...

....he's dead, regardless of your victory status.

This puts you right back at the beginning to do it all again.

So, thoughts on Hades? Great game, no doubt the king of the roguelikes as they say. It's one of those games where you can play it a lot or a little and get something out of it either way. However at the end of the day it's the same few levels over and over, so I gave it a few runs and it's time to move on.

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