Hades | Review | Switch - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, October 30, 2020

Hades | Review | Switch

 by Danny Bivens

The rouglite the makes sense. 

I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m not really a huge fan of roguelikes or roguelite games. While I think it’s almost impossible to deny that this style of game can provide players with lots of in-game hours offer differing styles of play, the whole die and restart from the beginning approach never appealed to me. This is mainly because it just seems to be no bearing on the story. Of course, I’m generalizing a bit here, but I’m probably not alone with that line of thinking. Enter Super Giant Games’ Hades - a game that ties the whole dying aspect of the genre into the their game like no other game before it and delivers something really special for fans of the sub-genre and for gamers like me.

Hades is set in the world of Greek mythology. The game puts players into the role of Zagreus, the rogue son of Hades himself, who is looking to escape the underworld. Hades is presented from a top-down isometric perspective. The game has players going through a random assortment of rooms across different locations throughout the underworld. Of course, each of these rooms are filled with enemies that need to be killed. If you take out all of the enemies in the room, you’ll be awarded some kind of item that will help you along your way. There are actually quite a few things to get - cash that can ONLY be used in the underworld, keys that can be used to unlock weapons (and more) and purple orbs/crystals called darkness that can be used to power up Zag permanently. 

You’ll have a number of different weapons to choose from before you start your run. While the available weaponry is limited at first, the more you play, the more you will be able to unlock. The more you play with a specific weapon, the more you will learn about it, too, through entries about the weapons in your codex. Each weapon is quite different and can suit a number of different play styles. Close up melee combat, long rang, mid range weapons and more are at your disposal here. I’m not going to spoil anything here, but while you might find yourself gravitating toward a single weapon early on, it really benefits you to try out all of them if you can. 

Hades also has more powerful upgrades that you receive from gods called boons. These are given to you directly from the gods of Mount Olympus during your runs. These are different from regular power-ups that you receive in the game because they usually have some kind of elemental aspect to them or offer something that is unique to the god in question. I could probably spend at least ten minutes or so just discussing this aspect of the game alone but let me just say that there are A LOT of different boons that can be had, some better than others. You don’t have much control over who or what will appear, so it’s really in your best interest to try out a number of these to see which best suits your style of play. 

While all of these boons and power-ups are great, the moment you die, they will become meaningless and you’ll have to start all over from the House of Hades all over again. Like I mentioned above, there are some items that you collect that will carry over - darkness (for upgrading Zag), keys for unlocking weapons (and more) and gem stones that can be used to tidy up the House of Hades. Interestingly, the conversations and places that you visited along that way will be the key to unlocking more of the story about the characters, world, enemies and more. There is a lot of information that you can get, and what’s more, it ties into the story. In the world of Hades, anyone that dies will wind up in the House of Hades and await to hear their judgement by the big man himself. The same goes for Zagreus. Well, minus the judgment part. Other characters will make comments about the foe who killed you, Hades will belittle you and others in the House will have other comments about the gods and characters you came across on your run. It’s really seamless and makes the whole rouge-lite element of the game that much more transparent. It’s probably my favorite aspect of the game as it just makes so much sense for the entirety of this world to revolve around death. 

Conversions with characters - be that those that reside in the House of Hades or the gods that you’ll encounter on your runs - are extremely well done. Very rarely will you have some kind of repeated dialog or come across something that you might already know. In this way, regardless of whether you make it out of the underworld or perish, you’re always advancing the story in some meaningful way. The thing about Hades is - it’s okay to die. It happens. From there, you can only take what you learned and gained from your experience to have a better run next time. And have some fun conversations with the interesting characters.

The visuals in Hades are fantastic - even on the Switch. The art design is great, with all of the characters looking their godly, or in some cases ungodly, parts. For the most part, the game also runs very smoothly, however I did run into some slowdown. This seemed to only happen when there were A LOT of enemies on screen. It wasn’t unbearable, but it’s something that you will notice from time to time. Having not played Hades on any other platform, I can’t really comment as to whether or not this is something that only happens in this version of the game. Playing in handheld mode is also a very welcome feature here as well. The game looks and performs nicely, too. As of right now, there are plans for Cross Save functionality to be added to the game between PC and the Switch. It’s been postponed, but just know that this is something that is being worked on and is set to release at some point in late 2020. 

The music in Hades is another strong point of the game. Not only are the music choices here just great to listen to, they really fit the situations that Zagreus will find himself in. If you’re walking around some of the earlier parts of the underworld, the music will be kind of upbeat, but not too menacing whereas facing off against a boss character will kick things up a notch, often adding guitar riffs and other instrumentals to make the encounters sound as epic as they look and feel. 

Simply put, if you don’t have Hades on the Switch or any other platform of your choice by now, you really should pick it up. The gameplay is solid, fun and varied, the art style and graphics are fantastic, the story beats are interesting and the voice work and audio in general are awesome. Aside from some minor performance issues, this is a must own game that will keep you busy for a long time. It’s the kind of game that you can just keep coming back to over and over. Not only that, but it’s the perfect encapsulation of what a rougelite/like game should be.

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