In SuperGiant Games’ Hades, Players will Die, Die, and Die Again

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Zagreus faces down the Bone Hydra. Image source: Terrence Smith

The Hugo Award-winning Hades, developed and published by SuperGiant Games, puts players in the role of Zagreus, the son of the Greek God of the Underworld, as he fights wave after wave of enemies to escape the Underworld and find his birth mother, Persephone.

Hades is probably one of the most difficult games to have come out in recent years. Just when I make progress, I get knocked off my feet by a stray projectile or an enemy attack that I did not notice. Being that stages are randomly generated, I am never quite sure what to expect, and if I get killed, I am sent back to the very beginning of the trials that I must face.

And yet, I keep wanting more.

Combat is immensely satisfying, with tight controls and a variety of weapons to test out, including a sword, a spear, and a shield that can be thrown like that of Captain America. I find myself trying out weapons I’m not as good with, just so I could see how far I could get. I want to test my skills to their absolute limits. And if I die, it doesn’t feel cheap, because I know it is my fault, and I know I can be better. The Siren’s call of “just one more try” keeps pulling me back in.

Hades does use perma-death, but that does not mean all progress is lost. Players can unlock new abilities such as instant revivals and coin bonuses. They also can talk to some regular residents of the Underworld, including the Greek warrior Achilles, or the dutiful Gorgon maid, Dusa. On their journeys, players might bump into Sisyphus and his stalwart companion Bouldy, the boulder that he must continually push up a hill over and over for all eternity. During the player’s trials, they will pick up abilities and words of encouragement from the Gods of Olympus, who cheer Zagreus on during his quest. Playing this game is just as much about the journey as it is the final destination.

Hades is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Mac, and PC.

Terrence J. Smith is MetaStellar's assistant fiction editor. He has contributed his writing to nonprofits and both print and digital publications. He enjoys all things technology, but remembers to meditate and appreciate the outside world.