So last week I was reading like a fend. I think I plowed through something like eight books, and the only thing that stopped that run was Hades, which is a video game I downloaded on a lark.
It’s captured my imagination. The premise is you’re Hades’ son who’s trying to break out of the Underworld. Each time you die, you have have start over but not before you go back home to be chided by your dad.
I’m a big fan of the gameplay loop of Roguelites – you play the same randomly generated map over and over while unlocking things for your character that makes them more powerful on subsequent runs. This allow you to feel a sense of progression even though you are going through roughly the same areas over and over again.
It’s been done before but the it’s the presentation that makes this game great. Instead of looking like art the greeks would have made, which is almost the default aesthetic whenever the Greek Gods are involved, Hades opts for more whimsical, hard rock album look. (I didn’t say Heavy Metal album as that has a more dower tone then the art in here ever gets to, but the imagery would be at home on a Led Zeppelin album.)
Speaking of music, it’s really good. Just hard enough to get feeling of high concept prog rock without going full bore into pastiche.
That edge is in everything including the writing. It never gives into the inherent darkness but it never lets you forget that’s just around the corner for these characters.
In the interest of full discloser, I should point out that I love Greek Mythology. I was the kid in highschool who had a copy of Graves Mythology in his book bag where other kids had Lord Of The Rings. Hell, I just finished a four year Dungeons and Dragons campaign, where I used the Greek pantheon instead of anything in the D&D source books.
So I’m always a little trepidatious when someone is using that pantheon as I’m always afraid they will portray them as being austere, which was never the point of them. They represent human interactions with cosmic forces and should readily show our human foibles. Luckily, Hades does this with style. The characters have wit and charm and the player is never allowed to forget that most of these people are family with some serious dysfunctions that they are trying to rise above.
And there’s a Gorgon that total has the crush on the player character and she’s too precious for this world and if her heart gets broken I’m going to rage quit.
TL;DR: The game’s well made and a lot of fun, and I’m here for it.