Hades is a beautiful game. The art style is incredible and stunning. However, I’m not really sure what I’m doing. Ok, let me rephrase that last part. I do know that I’m trying to escape from hell, but I wasn’t really paying attention to the whole story, the writing, the weapons, my upgrades or much else until very recently. I was just excited to take down hellish giants and monsters with my arsenal of godly weapons.
It wasn’t until a few hours in the game that I noticed that I wasn’t even playing as Hades. In the game you are trying to escape from hell as the son of Hades — Zagreus. Who I don’t really remember from Greek mythology, but he is a cool character in this game, so that’s fine by me. I look forward to reading some of his stories.
My Hades journey began mostly in handheld mode (on Nintendo Switch), which is the reason why (I think) I wasn’t too interested in the story. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, so much as I couldn’t really read or listen or pay attention to the small details on the small screen. I’ve always been a big fan of Greek mythology (I even purposefully took a Greek mythology class in college) which is a reason why I should totally dig this game’s story.
I was just trying to make my way out of hell as quickly as possible (and failing each time). It wasn’t until I first played Hades in docked mode (on the TV screen) that I realized how much work went into the story and every little detail. I knew the game was beautiful to look at from the very beginning, but I didn’t give all of the other details a chance. Recently, I’ve even thought about restarting and really, really paying attention.
I do find myself mindlessly playing through some games (Borderlands 3), while searching for every little detail in others (God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order). I don’t choose which games I will play through mindlessly vs fully-involved (that’s a term from Firehouse Subs that means, give me all of the veggies and stuff, but I think it fits well into this scenario). Some games have lore that grabs your attention, while others do not. I don’t think the lore was the problem with Hades — I blame the small screen and playing with little to no sound late at night in bed.
Even while not really paying attention this game definitely got my attention. I just enjoyed the whole loop of trying to escape, dying and then trying over and over again, while slowly becoming stronger. I even started telling my friends they had to play this new cross between Diablo and Dead Cells, two games that I’ve really loved on my Switch. Hades uses the Dead Cells formula (a procedurally-generated world to keep it different every time) in the style of Diablo (a top down view) with a unique art style of it’s own.
The one thing I did notice on handheld mode is how gorgeous this game looks. Docking my Switch and seeing the world on my TV screen, just proved that point even further. The art direction isn’t super complicated, it just looks so damn good.
Every time I get to one of these points in the game I have to walk out to the edge and let the camera zoom out to show me this breathtaking view, and I will stay here for a few seconds. I believe I even have multiple screenshots of these same two views over and over in my Switch photo library.
One thing that I know I’ll never learn in Hades is all of the different symbols in the game. Every god and goddess has their own symbol, each item and all the doors have a symbol revealing the reward to come. There’s just a lot going on in this game.
I’m still not too sure what’s going on in the game the entire time. I know that I can upgrade Zagreus’s skills and decorate the common areas of the house of Hades. Skill trees and upgrades are another area that can be hit or miss for me. In some games, I just quickly add points to any category blindly (Borderlands 3, Hades), while in other games I may read through the skill tree upgrades to figure out what exactly I want (Ghost of Tsushima, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order). This all depends on the user experience (UX/UI) and design of the skill trees (also how much reading is involved).
I know that there are a few weapons to choose from, but I still haven’t picked a favorite. I really enjoy changing it up each round. If I last died with the bow, I’ll try the boxing gloves of doom next or maybe the throwing javelin. The javelin is fun since you can recall it like Kratos with his axe in God of War. I like to keep the demons of hell guessing every time I show up.
So my main question here is: Is it time to start over from the beginning, reading all the dialogue and details? I also have the choice of restarting the game in a new save slot (which I recently did with Hollow Knight after playing through about 30 hours, many months ago). I have attempted to escape from hell 20 times and have a total darkness of 974. For now, I will continue playing on my current save. Maybe I’ll start over and pay closer attention once I’ve escaped hell, which is what people like to post about (how many attempts before they finally escaped). Or I can start over and add a +20 to when I finally do escape on my new save slot. Either way I don’t intend to stop playing Hades, because it is a beautiful, wonderful time.