Hades is a roguelike Greek mythology videogame developed and published by Supergiant games. The game was initially released for MacOS, Microsoft Windows, and Nintendo Switch on September 17, 2020, and quickly took the gaming world by storm. The game swept the end-of-year lists of major publications like IGN, Entertainment Weekly, Time, and the Washington Post. Within three days of its official release date, Hades sold over 1 million copies.
The game is set for re-release for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S consoles on August 13, 2021. But what exactly is Hades, and what is its relationship to Ancient Greek mythology?
Well, its relationship is a pretty big one. Hades may be the most intricately designed game about Greek mythology in the history of modern gaming. Hades features far more than the most famous and recognizable names from Greek mythology like Zeus and Athena–the game is stacked with deep references across ancient mythology, building its plot on real relationships between characters like the Fury sisters Megaera, Alecto, and Tisiphone.
A deep dive inside the world of Hades
The game centers around Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he attempts to flee the Underworld and reach Greece’s Mount Olympus.
Along the way, he encounters many iconic figures from Greek mythology. The game engages with its mythical sources, as players can engage in conversations with gods and goddesses which reflect events and relationships found in Greek mythology.
In order to reach Mount Olympus, Zagreus must take on a variety of mythical enemies. As an immortal, he doesn’t die when defeated, he just wakes up back where he started in the Underworld.
Even though this feature leads to a gameplay loop, in which players battle through the same stages, the conversations between Zagreus and other characters are never the same, making each escape attempt an exciting new layer to the story.
Certain abilities, weapons, and achievements are only unlocked after players start over again, so it’s to their advantage to play through the rich mythical world multiple times.
Hades is billed as a roguelike dungeon-crawler game. These types of games are centered around complex, labyrinthine worlds that have conversations, enemies, and puzzles built into their very environment. Levels are encountered on a grid, but each new room generates new arrangements of fights, traps, objects, and characters to be encountered.
Hades’ combat typically takes place in “runs” through generated rooms whose interior layouts are predetermined but the order they appear in is randomized. In between these runs the player can freely move through the House of Hades.
Along with its exciting combat and stunning character design, critics note that its structure and storytelling, centered around the immortal themes in Greek mythology, make Hades a masterpiece. Hades was named IGN and Time Magazine’s number one game of the year for 2020.