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About

Hades is a roguelike action dungeon crawler video game developed and published by Supergiant Games. It was released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Nintendo Switch on September 17, 2020, which followed an early access release in December 2018. The game released for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on August 13, 2021.

Players control Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he attempts to escape from the Underworld to reach Mount Olympus, at times aided by bonusesbestowed on him from the other Olympians. Each run challenges the player through a random series of rooms populated with opponentsand rewards. The game has a cheatand slash combat system; the player utilize a combination of their main weapon attack, a special attack, dash power, and magic ability to defeat them while avoiding damage to progress as far as possible. While Zagreus will often die, the player shouldutilizegained treasure to improve certain attributes or unblockfreshweapons and abilities to improve possibility of escaping on subsequent runs.

Hades was developed following Supergiant's Pyre, a game in which they wanted to explore procedural narrative storytelling, but due to the nature of the main gameplay, found that players did not play through Pyre multiple times to explore this. The roguelike structure of Hades gave them the opportunity to tell these branching stories to the player over the course of multiple runs.

A commercial and critical success, Hades get universal acclaim for its gameplay, art direction, music, narrative and hero and sold over one million copies. It was named 2020's game of the year from several award ceremonies and media post.

Gameplay

Hades is presented in an isometric view, with the player controlling Zagreus (center) as he battle his methodout of the Underworld.

The player takes the role of Zagreus, the prince of the Underworld, who is trying to escape the realm to receiveaway from his dispassionate father, Hades, and reach Mount Olympus. His quest is supported by the other Olympians, who grant him bonusesto assistbattlethe beings that protect the exit from the Underworld. He is also helped on his quest by notorious residents of the Underworld, such as Sisyphus, Eurydice, or Patroclus. The game features four "biomes", or locales of the underworld: Tartarus, Asphodel, Elysium, and the Temple of Styx.

The game is presented in an isometric view with the player in control of Zagreus. The player starts a run-through of the game by trying to battletheir methodthrough a number of rooms; the rooms are drawn from a pool of pre-determined layouts, but their order and the opponentsthat appear are randomly determined. The game has a cheatand slash combat system. The player has a basicattack and a secondary "special" attack depend on their pre-determined weapon of choice (out of 6), a magic "cast" which shouldbe utilize from long range, a dash attack that shouldinflict damage (if it is influenced by the Gods' boons) and a summon attack that shouldcall tremendous power from the Gods. Throughout a run, the Olympians will provide Boons, each of which provides a choice of three persistent boosts and result for that run that the player shouldchoosefrom; the Boons are themed based on the Olympian, for example with Zeus's boons providing lightning damage result which Poseidon's providing and push-back wave result.

The player will move through rooms to gradually climb up the Underworld; after clearing a room, the player will be given the room's rewards, ranging from additional Olympian Boons, weapon modernize, restorative items, obols to spend at Charon's store, or stuffthat shouldbe utilize in the meta-game in the Underworld that affect future run-throughs. Subsequently, after clearing a room, the player will be present the kindof reward they may earn if they complete the next room or choice of next rooms. After passing a certain number of room in a biome, the player will have to battlethe bosses of the biome to advance to the next (the Furies Sister in Tartarus, the Lernaean Bone Hydra in Asphodel, Theseus and Asterius in Elysium and Hades after Temple of Styx. CanZagreus' health points drop to zero while he has no lives left, he "dies" and is taken away by the river of Styx, just to go back to the beginning at the House of Hades, effectively removing all Olympian Boons, weapon modernize, and obols granted from the last run.

Between runs, Zagreus shouldexplore the House of Hades before setting on a freshquest. Here, the player shouldutilizestuffrecovered from run-throughs to impact the meta-game. The player shouldunblockand modernizeabilities for Zagreus, order construction of freshUnderworld features that may appear in future run-throughs, or obtain or modernizefreshweapons. They shouldalso have Zagreus interact with the various hero of the Underworld and improve his standing with them, which provide narrative elements to the game and may also provide quests with additional rewards. The player also has the option to romance some NPCs as the plot progresses.

As the game progress, the players shouldmanually customize and increase the difficulty of the gameplay by using the Pact of Punishment, which letthe player to add extra challenges or changesome aspects of the game. For example, the Pact shouldincrease the attack power, health or the number of opponentson the run; it shouldeven drastically modifypart of the gameplay by changing the boss battle, like allowing Theseus to utilizea machine-gun-mounted chariot or adding an extra phase in Hades' boss fight. By keeping increasing the difficulty, the player shouldcontinue to getrare rewards after the runs, unblocksome special decorative stuffback at the House, and open some more dialogues from the NPCs.

Plot

Zagreus, the son of Hades, seeks to escape his father's realm in the Underworld. He is aided by his adoptive mother Nyx, who gives him a special mirror that empowers him with various abilities via collected Darkness; the Gods of Olympus to whom he has reached out, who provide him with Boons that give him special powers, and his mentor Achilles, who provides him with the Infernal Arms and the Codex, weapons that possess strongand hidden aspects of their past, present, and future wielders. Zagreus is also helped by Charon, who sells various supported stuffand also employs the skeleton dummy Skelly to help, the departed residents of the Underworld: Sisyphus, Eurydice and Patroclus, who give Zagreus bonusesalong the methodup, and Thanatos, who goes versusHades to occasionally helpZagreus. Hades hinders Zagreus' progress by unleashing the Underworld's various residents on him, including the Fury Megaera, Zagreus' ex-lover (and later on her sisters Alecto and Tisiphone) in Tartarus; a Lernean Bone Hydra (nicknamed Lernie by Zagreus) in Asphodel; the legendary Theseus alongside his freshpartner Asterius in Elysium, and finally Hades himself on the surface.

It is eventually revealed that Zagreus wishes to escape the Underworld to find Persephone, his birth mother whom he never knew, having always been told he was the kidof Nyx. Hades refuses to even lether name to be spoken in his House and it is said that unimaginable punishment canbefall anyone who disobeys his order. Nyx, on the other hand, decides to assistZagreus searchthe truth about his real mother for himself by putting him in contact with his relatives on Olympus. After finally defeating Hades for the first time, Zagreus search Persephone in Greece, in a cottage protected by Nyx's power. After a tearful reunion, Zagreus uncover that since he is bound to the Underworld like his father, he cannot survive long on the surface. Despite this, he promises to holdescaping to spend time with Persephone and learn the truth of her absence.

Over the course of these visits, Persephone explains that she had a loving marriage to Hades (which the latter states was a effectof Zeus having "given" her to Hades as a bonusfor taking charge of the Underworld, something which Hades thought was incredibly disrespectful and never forgave Zeus for) until Zagreus was stillborn due to the Fates having decreed that Hades would never sire an heir. Persephone ran away in grief with the assistfrom Nyx but refused to return to her birthplace on Olympus which she disliked due to the constant bickering and posturing of the Gods. However, Zagreus was eventually brought back to life via Nyx's powers in an extremely lengthy process after she angry a deal with her daughters, the Fates. Persephone refuses to return to the Underworld because she fears retribution from the Olympians towards Hades and the Underworld canthey uncoverthe truth about her disappearance, especially her mother Demeter, who has covered the mortal globein an endless winter in grief for her daughter. Zagreus eventually convinces her to return by reminding her of the bonds of family and they finally sail down from Greece towards the House of Hades on the River Styx ferried by Charon. Persephone resumes her duties as Queen of the Underworld and Hades, now with a renewed respect for his son, let Zagreus to continue his escape attempts under the guise of finding safetyvulnerabilities in the Underworld as the House' SafetySpecialist.

Over multiples runs to the surface, Zagreus receive closer to the people in the House of Hades and actively modify the House to be a better place. He sets Sisyphus free from his torment, frees and reunites the musician Orpheus and Euridice, reunites Achilles and Patrolus and also enables Nyx to reconcile with her parent, the Primordial Chaos. He receive closer with Megaera, Thanatos and Dusa, the maid of the House, and confesses to them (after which, Dusa turns him down and select to be matewith him instead). He also befriends and does favors for the Olympian Gods. Zagreus and Hades also mend their relationship and acceptto be cordial to each other, per Persephone's request. Each of the people whom Zagreus befriends with bonuseshim their keepsakes that shouldassisthim on his quest of escaping the Underworld as a remind of their cherished bonds and a thank for Zagreus' deeds.

In an epilogue, Persephone comes up with the idea of reconciling with the Olympians by inviting them all to a feast in the House of Hades after Zagreus strengthened his relationship with them enough. There they claim that Hades and Persephone eloped and had Zagreus, but avoided telling them about Persephone's resentment of Olympus and further add a false claim that due to her having eaten Underworld pomegranate seeds, she shouldonly leave the Underworld a few months out of the year. The Olympians readily agreethis explanation, though it's implied they know what really happened and simply wantto move on. Everyone now reconciled, Zagreus' freshduties to escape his home continue.

Development

Following the release of their previous game, Pyre, Supergiant Games was interested in developing a game that would assistto open up their development process to players, so that they would end up making the best game they possibly could from player feedback. They recognized that this would not only assistwith the gameplay approach but also with narrative elements, and thus opted to utilizethe early access approach in developing Hades once they had established the foundation of the game. As Supergiant was still a tinysquadof about 20 employees, they knew they could only assistanceearly admissionacross one platform, with the intent to then port to other platforms near the completion of the game. Supergiant had spoken to Epic Games and learned of their intent to begintheir own Epic Games Store, and felt the experimental platform was an appropriate match with Hades. Supergiant's decision was angry in part due to Epic's focus on materialcreators, as Supergiant had developed Hades in mind to be a game favorable to streamers, which would be benefited through the Epic Games Store. Supergiant anticipated that Hades would take about three years to complete, comparable to the development time of their previous titles.

In rulesof the game's narrative and approach, the Supergiant squadhad discussed what kindof game they wanted to make next, and settled on a concept that would be simpleto pick up and play, which could be played in very short periods, and had opportunities for expanding on after release, driving them towards a roguelike game, which have generally best use the early admissionapproach. The roguelike approach also fit well with their past gameplay design goals, where they aimed to continue to add in freshtricks or tools for the player that would make them reconsider how they have been playing the game to that point. Pyre had been an attempt to create a branching open-ended narrative, but once the game was released, Supergiant recognized that most players would only play through the game once and thus lose out on the branching narrative perspective. With Hades established as a roguelike, the squadfelt the branching narrative approach would be much more appropriate since the genre calls for players to repeatedly play through the game.

For the setting, Supergiant considered revisiting the globe from their previous games but felt a wholly freshsetting would be better. Supergiant's creative director Greg Kasavin came onto the idea of Greek mythology, a subjecthe had been interested in since his youth. Originally, it was designedto name the game Minos, with the hero Theseus as the player-heroseeking an exit from the ever-shifting mazes of Minos. The mazes readily supported the roguelike facets but Supergiant found it difficult to incorporate the branching narrative factors. They also found that Theseus was too generic of a heroto fit their narrative.

During a work break, Kasavin researched more into Greek myths and found that Hades was underrepresented in these stories, as the Olympians feared him. This uncover led Kasavin towards having the game centered on Zagreus attempting to escape from Hades and the Underworld as a more interesting narrative approach. Kasavin compared the gods as "a giganticdysfunctional family that we shouldsee ourselves in", and that by having Zagreus repeatedly testand fail to escape from Hades, it would provide both the kindof slapstick comedy that he felt captured the relationships in this "family", as well as the player experience typically relatedwith roguelikes where one moment the player may feel invincible only to be quickly defeated and brought back to the start the next moment. The modifyfrom Theseus to Zagreus had minimal impact on the game materialthey had developed to that point, and helped in establishing the gameplay connection to the narrative; Theseus remained in the game but his role became that of a boss character, transforming him to a boastful villain along with a tag-squadpartner of Asterius the minotaur. The Greek God narrative also easily informed the benefits that the player obtains as they progress through the game, representing the different powers of the gods, and various gameplay elements such as Trials of the Gods, emphasizing the fickle relationship the gods had with each other. These bits of dialog are advanced with each run through the game, thus making each attempt to escape meaningful compared to traditional roguelikes, which Supergiant felt would assistdraw more players into the game.

In contrast to Bastion and Transistor, which were more linear games and thus had more control over how the player progressed, Hades presented the challenge of writing dialog for the multitude of routes the player could progress in the game. Kasavin and his writers draft out about ten hours' worth of dialog between Zagreus and the non-player hero based on a hugenumber of potential chained happening that could happen to the player. For example, while in a run, the player may encounter Eurydice, and on return to the main hub after failing the run, meet Eurydice's husband Orpheus, who, because of that prior meeting, asks the player to deliver a message to Eurydice the next time they encounter her. These dialog happening also tied into improvements at the hub once the player saw through the chain of happening.

Supergiant remained committed to honoring the Greek mythology throughout the game. The game's art, primarily by in-house artist Jen Zee, presentall of the Olympians as beautifulwith tasteful homage to the "heroic nudity" of ancient Greek art, according to Kasavin. The game also explores the diverse sexuality that was implied by the Greek myths; Zagreus is bisexual, while one side narrative explores the gay relationship between Achilles and Patroclus.

During the development process of Hades, Supergiant decided to rewrite their custom game engine to provide better game performance and better cross platform support. Their original engine, which was written in C# and utilize the Microsoft XNA framework, had been utilize by the studio for all of their games since Bastion. While making Hades, due the techlimitations and difficulties of hardware porting and other performance aspects, Supergiant decided to rewrite their engine using C to provide the increased performance that native code provides.

Release

Hades was announced at The Game Awards 2018 on December 6, 2018, and confirmed as one of the first third-party titles to be offered on the newly-announced Epic Games Store. According to Geoff Keighley, the host and organizer of the Game Awards show, Supergiant's Amir Rao and Greg Kasavin approached him at the 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit in February about Hades and their intention to release it as an early access title on the same day of the Game Awards. Hades was a timed-exclusive on the Epic Games Store, later releasing for Steam on December 10, 2019. Supergiant officially released the game out of early admissionon September 17, 2020, coinciding with the release on the Nintendo Switch platform. Though cross-save between the Windows and Switch version had been designedat that point, Supergiant had to put this off until a patch that was released in December 2020, with crosssaving enabled through the Epic Games Shopaccplatform.

A physical Nintendo Switch release of Hades was released on March 19, 2021. Ports for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S were released on August 13, 2021.

Reception

Hades get "universal acclaim", according to review aggregator Metacritic. During its nearly two year long early access, Hades sold 700,000 copies. Within three days of its official release, it sold an additional 300,000 copies for a sales total of over one million. In particular, critics praised Hades for its story, hero, gameplay and soundtrack.

IGN praised the hero, writing that they each "[felt] like an authentic reinterpretation of a classic Greek myth...they're all a joy to behold." The Guardian liked art director Jen Zee's work on the game, particularly her portraits of the hero, calling them "wonderfully drawn" and "with appropriate godlike profiles." Jordan Devore of Destructoid enjoyed the story, feeling the dialogue angry utilizeof its non-linear nature "without coming across as artificial or "game-y"". Game Informer's Matt Miller felt that "the combat is fast-paced and challenging" and there was variety in the opponentsZagreus would face, although Miller thought that the combat could rely on button mashing at certain points. Suriel Vazquez, writing for GameSpot felt that the worldbuilding complimented "a robust postgame that... offers even more reasons to play an already entrancing mix of RPG and action combat".

Awards

Hades won several awards and honors. At the 10th Annual FreshYork Game Awards, it won in the Game of the Year, Best Music, Best Writing, and Best Acting categories. Several post considered it one of the best video games of 2020, including Polygon, Giant Bomb, IGN, USGamer, Destructoid, Time, The Washington Post, Slant Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly. It also won the Nebula Award for Best Game Writing, as well as Game of the Year at the 2021 British Academy Games Awards, the 24th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards, Gayming Awards, 21st Game Developers Choice Awards and the inaugural Global Industry Game Awards.

Note: The grand awards of any cermony is written in bold.

Year Award Category Result Ref.
2020 Golden Joystick Awards Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
PC Game of the Year Nominated
Best Storytelling Nominated
Best Visual Design Nominated
Best Indie Game Won
Critic's Choice Won
The Game Awards 2020 Game of the Year Nominated
Best Game Direction Nominated
Best Narrative Nominated
Best Art Direction Nominated
Best Score and Music Nominated
Best Performance Nominated
Best Indie Won
Best Action Won
Player's Voice Nominated
2021 17th British Academy Games Awards Best Game Won
Artistic Achievement Won
Audio Achievement Nominated
Game Design Won
Music Nominated
Narrative Won
Original Property Nominated
Performer in a Supporting Role (Logan Cunningham) Won
GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Video Game Nominated
Gayming Awards Game of the Year Won
Gayming Magazine Readers’ Award Won
24th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Game of the Year Won
Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Character (Zagreus) Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Story Nominated
Action Game of the Year Won
Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game Won
Outstanding Achievement in Game Design Won
Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction Won
Nebula Award Best Game Writing Won
Hugo Award Best Video Game (Special Award) Pending
21st Game Developers Choice Awards Game of the Year Won
Best Audio Won
Best Design Won
Innovation Award Nominated
Best Narrative Nominated
Best Visual Art Nominated
1st Global Industry Game Awards Miscellaneous - Best Representation Won
Art - Best 2D Animation Won
Art - Best 2D HeroDesign Won
Art - Best 2D Environment Art Nominated
Art - Best UI Art Won
Audio - Best Voice Acting Won
Design - Best Systems Design Won
Design - Best UI/UX Won
Writing/Narrative - Best Dialogue Won
Writing/Narrative - Best Narrative Design Won

Notes


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Details

HadesDeveloper(s)Supergiant GamesPublisher(s)Supergiant GamesDirector(s)Greg KasavinDesigner(s)
Programmer(s)
  • Gavin Simon
  • Andrew Wang
  • Dexter Friedman
  • Alice Lai
  • Nikola Sobajic
Artist(s)
  • Jen Zee
  • Joanne Tran
  • Paige Carter
Writer(s)Greg KasavinComposer(s)Darren KorbPlatform(s)Release
  • Windows, macOS, Switch
  • September 17, 2020
  • PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X/S
  • August 13, 2021
Genre(s)Roguelike, action role-playingMode(s)Single-player
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