RPS Advent Calendar 2020, December 24th

We have finally reached the last door of the RPS Advent calendar. Behind this is our game of the year, and you know what? It was a difficult journey here. We went through several different spheres. Many beasts and several family friends attacked us. Our father strangely did not support the whole thing. But you know what? It seems that a real boon is waiting behind door 24 …

It’s … Hades!

Imogen: This time last year I clung to my parents ’house, undermining the hades while it was still in early access. It’s crazy to think that back then that beautiful mythological rogue wasn’t even finished. Every run I completed was met with humorous jokes about Zagre’s fate and how I would have to wait just a little longer to find out the rest of his story … Then this summer came out in 1.0, I discovered what Zag was looking for, and it became me a little teary.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so emotionally invested by a cheater. Zagreus is such a wonderful boy with one goal: escape from hell. But his journey is intertwined with the travels of many others, there are many more feelings in him than I could have imagined. It inspires so much determination to complete each run – not only to learn more about this mysterious Supergiant finish that has been chasing you for so long, but to soak into every aspect of the world they have created.

Even now, long after I’ve finished the main story, I can’t stop playing it. Hades never ends in the most wonderful way: there is still so much to hear from my chthonic friends. I feel personally attacked when Eurydice does not invite me for a bite to Asphodel; or when my husband, the Incarnate Death, does not stop by Tartarus to help me beat the wretched.

I think the little stories you come across in Hades are so compelling because the storytelling is woven into the gameplay, in a way I don’t think many games do that. My favorite example of this is one of Hada’s bosses. After a ton of running, these bosses started changing their tone during their pre-quarrel antics. I didn’t think much about it at the time, until a few times later it became clear that they had solved their character arc and their move permanently changed to reflect it. And they killed me almost immediately! I got so used to their old sequences that it caught me right. Naturally, I jumped straight to find them again and fought them.

Hades ’ability to continue to surprise and encourage is unlike any madness I’ve played. Even when you fail at running, you are rewarded with a fun exchange of brilliant characters in your underground villa. Hades makes failure fun, and success incredibly inspiring. Please play this game.

Ed: I like Hades because I like to go through the door that will bring me prey, to the rooms that will probably bring me more prey. I’m a big fan of Binding Of Isaac because too much involves killing things in the room, choosing a door, and then I hope the door you chose is prey on the other side. I’m a glutton for reinforcements.

Hades is very good in making you feel powerful too. As you progress through the run, you’re visited by these Olympic gods who are going to be like, “You could use lightning to go with that shield, right?” And I’ll gladly accept them on offer, but not before the awkward one hits, very well. pronounced “comrade” to seal the deal. I honestly can’t get rid of the feeling that the character you’re playing, Zagreus, is basically Robert Pattinson.

Eventually you will be refined and cut all over the space with a bunch of powers playing with each other. One of my best runs was with a big sword, and I had this thing when I would give the enemies a pile of Doom every time I hit a hit, so after a short delay all those stacks would gather and just splash like a mini-nuclear at any nasty which I cut out.

I also respect the fact that Had is not extremely heavy and is not afraid to give you a little treat for your efforts. That miraculous sword run eventually ended, but instead of sobbing afterwards, I felt a solid sense of accomplishment. I could go back to my pleasant world of hubs and give friends preze, which I found on the run, or spend money on items, or even try out a new spear I unlocked. Cor, so many possibilities!

I’ve found Hades to be super hateful, sowing that “just another” feeling into my brain, even though my eyes are threatening to collapse. I guess it’s because it’s like a rogue that’s excited when he sees you pushing forward, as opposed to cheering for your death.

The artwork of Hades' character, Zagreus, stood looking really cool in the middle of some of Hyrd's heads.

Alice Bee: I think my favorite thing about Hades (other than it’s literally the only good game like characters ever) is that everyone who plays it has their favorite god among the pantheon. As Ed says, they all offer you slightly different blessings, so accordingly everyone has their desired combinations for stacking, for achieving the right attacks or passive abilities for that primary sequence that passes through the underworld.

So, in the end you have a few favorite gods that you end up praying for, they will appear early and multiple times in your run, and a couple of others that don’t bother you but aren’t your best. Today I am the girlfriend of Artemis / Poseidon, but I mean, I won’t say no to Ares or Apollo.

In this way, Supergiant managed to make us once again worshipers of the ancient Greek gods, in a way that I assume humans were actually in the past. Because we’re all like, “Yeah, thanks Artemis, give me that sweet critic who does the damage!” but equally, because running can make or break on one roll of hell dice, we hope just as much no run into certain gods. “Please, please no Dionysus or – fuck, it’s Zeus, uh. “I can’t say that someone in Ancient Athens has never said that sentence before. Time is a circle.

Screenshot of Zagreus talking to Artemis.  She is a young woman with slightly green skin, a plain green tunic and fur collar, green hair and headbands adorned with horns.  He carries a bow and quiver of arrows.

Alice0: I haven’t played Hades yet, but I appreciate everyone’s beautiful, creative, funny, and horny fan art. Thank you for drawing it. Keep it up.

James: What can I say about Hades? Every time I think I’m done with it, the game attracts me again. Please stop reading it and play if you haven’t already – even the most intense people against the villain I know have come into the genre after the stunning effort of Supergiant this year.

When I play games, as an absolute content driver, I naturally look for moments that can be screened. You can send those lines of dialogue to a friend and say “haha, that’s something you’d say,” or a beautiful piece of the landscape, like everything in between. Well, Hades is absolutely full of those moments. From flirtatious chatting with Meg to Achilles ’fun glossary at Codex, all the way to lunch to draw a view of the Elysium Plains, save some disk space. You will press that PRT SCR button quite often.

“Despite everything, if I were to recommend the one and only game he offered in 2020, it would have to be Hades.”

The moments that can be recorded on the screen, however, do not make up the game. Hades has everything else. The game just sits with a huge array of characters, none of whom I will quickly forget, great melodies that will constantly drag you through the depths of the Underworld and some of the sharpest, most responsible actions I have ever experienced.

The way the narrative expands in a few strokes is something I haven’t seen before either, and it’s extremely impressive how each individual line of dialogue (and all perfectly expressed) feels relevant to your current situation. I still haven’t heard the chat repeat, and while you have to do a few runs to get a ‘complete’ story, it doesn’t seem like a tedious job thanks to the sweet variety of weapons you can choose from, as well as opportunities to increase ante and make things worse.

If you can, treat yourself this Christmas. After all, if I were to recommend the one and only game he offered in 2020, it would have to be Hades. Supergiant completely broke it with Hades and I doubt I will discover everything this game has to offer for a long time.

Zagreus stands and looks over one of the levels of the underworld, a mass of high lava pools flowing in waterfalls down the side pillars.

Ollie: Supergiant games have played a big role in my career writing about games. I wrote an undergraduate dissertation on Bastion and the transistor, first. And I only worked at RPS for three days when Hades was announced (and simultaneously announced in Early Access) at the Game Game Awards 2018, so I could watch him grow as I grew in the role. It is my pleasure whenever I write about the game Supergiant.

Had lacks the emotional narrative punch in other Supergiant games, and at the same time I can’t see it as well as other than their best writing to date. Before Hades, I couldn’t even imagine how you could create an effective story within a rogue with permadeath and meta-progression. Supergiant has always done an amazing job marrying mechanics by narrative in a way that elevates both, but Had is their magnum opus.

Even without any story, I would still have a hard time putting Hade down. It’s an incredibly beautiful, sleek, satisfying experience and cracks all the boxes of what I’m looking for in a similar way. But thanks to the story, I feel that I will never be able to fully satisfy another thug again. I want those easy moments where you talk to the characters and learn about their motives and problems. I want it to make sense that I keep dying and going back to the beginning. I want to learn about the personalities behind every boss fight every time I meet them. Hades ruined something fierce for me.

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