3 min read

First thoughts on Hades

I played Hades for three hours yesterday and I'm sketching my thoughts on it.

Combat uses a four-action system like some other games. The basic actions are attack, cast, dash, and special. This reminds me of two other games. CrossCode's basic actions are melee, ranged, dash, guard/block. Wizard of Legend's are basic, dash, standard, and signature. There's a common theme of having a basic attack and a dash attack. Usually there is a ranged attack. Hades and Wizard of Legend make their "specials" a basic action, while CrossCode instead expresses specials as charged-up versions of basic actions.

I tend to dash a lot in video games, and that aspect feels similar across these games. The screen jerks around a lot and it's hard keeping track of where my character is. I could dash less, but who wants to do that?

Armor is annoying. It reminds me of armored moves in fighting games, like Arizona's magic headbuck. Unfortunately it is even more durable. It means I can't just corner and beat up enemies one by one. I'm forced to actually watch the enemy's patterns. This makes ordinary enemies more like elites or minibosses, which in Hades as in most games can't be stunlocked. The armor mechanic is an interesting design choice that way.

I like the weapon variety. The Eternal Spear, the Aegis, the Stygian sword, and the bow all feel very different. The bow feels like a play-it-safe weapon. The spear feels similar but with a little more risk, since you have to get close to use the attack. It's also neat in that it can pierce. The aegis feels more pattern-dependent, more tempo-heavy, more back-and-forth in how it plays, although you can also just block and ignore everything that's not behind you or headed that direction, which is nice. The throw is neat and gives it some flexibility. The sword feels pretty balanced between these two extremes. The melee attack pattern feels like "wait for an opportunity." But I can also play them reckless and run in swinging. It doesn't work well, but I can do it.

Megaera is a good first boss. I hate the spikes in her arena. I die to the area of effect laser more than I feel like I should given it is so telegraphed. I blame the enemies constantly spawning in. I got lucky once that they were all the dudes with clubs and no witches. The trick to the spiral blast seems to be to run slowly in the same direction it's rotating.

The aesthetic and story are neat. I don't know that much of Greek mythology, but I did know the pomegranate story of Hades and Persephone, so it was neat to see that show up in the game's story. I find interesting and fun the reimagining of Medusa (?) as a nervous excitable flying head (Ms. Dusa) that cleans up Hades' house. Chaos, Nyx, the fates, and how they relate is neat.

I don't have a sense yet for what boons it makes sense to take together. I'm still trying out new boons and trying to spread out boons across slots, e.g. get a call, get a cast, get a dash, get an attack, get a dash-strike if I can find decent ones. I have only used a call once or twice so far because, as with fighting games, I don't yet pay close attention to my meter. I noticed the Chaos gate appeared at the start of a run once. I'm guessing the Chaos gate appears at the start only if you beat Megaera in the last run, or maybe it is if you used a Chaos gate last run, or used a gate and successfully lifted the curse/completed the target number of encounters.

I'm curious how to use the basic toolbox (four actions) together effectively.

The boons seem to give:

  1. Ares: Blade Rift.
  2. Artemis: Critical hit chance and damage.
  3. Athena: Deflect projectiles.
  4. Aphrodite: Inflict weak on enemies. Sometimes healing.
  5. Chaos: Big percent damage upgrades? In exchange for a price in health and a short-term curse like "you can't use cast for three rooms."
  6. Daedalus: Weapon-specific upgrades?
  7. Dionysus: Hangover damage-over-time (DOT) and stun. Sometimes healing.
  8. Hermes: I forget.
  9. Poseidon: Knockback and probably other things.
  10. Zeus: When you hit an enemy, chain lightning hits neraby enemies.

It's neat.