In this article, I give you my Hades game review. Myths and legends are huge influences when it comes to video games but they’re often getting sidelined. Let’s change that a bit and go straight to Greek mythology.
Developer supergiant games new roguelike Hades has big shoes to fill Bastion Piatt and transistor were huge hits boasting colorful 2D graphics awesome music and captivating gameplay.
Hades surprisingly enough doesn’t tell the story of the Greek god of death it’s named after but rather focuses on his son Zagreus, prince of the underworld and sick of it. Why? Well, he figured out that his father lied to him about his mother which isn’t the night goddess Nix but rather a woman called Persephone. Does that name ring any bells? Nope? Then let’s explain.
Legendary Greek poet Persephone is a protagonist in one of his famous hymns. She was the daughter of Zeus, whom you’ll probably all have heard of, and Demeter, goddess of fertile soil and harvest. Hades fell in love with Persephone and kidnapped her. And is it that wouldn’t be creepy enough he was also her uncle.
Zeus really didn’t care much about his brother’s actions but Demeter did. She searched everywhere for her daughter and neglected her job which led to plants dying and famine. And so, the Thunder God made a deal with Hades.
Persephone would be the queen of the underworld for part of the year but the rest she would spend at the Olymp. This is actually an ancient explanation for the change of seasons. In autumn Persephone would go downstairs. Her mom started mourning and the land suffered. In spring she came back up Demeter was happy everything started growing again.
In the Hades game, Persephone is something like Zagreus lodestar his guiding light. He wants to meet her so bad and to do so he fights his way through armies of ghosts and ghouls, dying over and over again. Thankfully, he’s immortal so he just wakes back up.
As it is custom for roguelike games, every death is a step in the right direction. You collect currencies which you can then exchange for weapons and other upgrades.
In between your attempts to escape hell, there’s also always time for story snippets. Some cuddling with the three-headed watchdog Cerberus and banter with dear old daddy who isn’t exactly happy about his son. But wait, is he really his son?
Hades is currently still in development so there might be stuff that’s being added to the game later maybe. In some Greek myths, Zagreus is the son of Zeus and Persephone, yes his daughter. The Thunder God basically slept with anyone who didn’t get away fast enough.
Paintings often show Zagreus as a little boy with a bull’s head, a representation of his ability to shape-shift into various animals which sadly didn’t make it into the game. Zeus’s wife Hera was understandably not happy about the child so she sent Titans to get rid of the unwanted stepson. They killed and ate him so Zeus sent a lightning bolt to kill them in revenge. Greek mythology isn’t exactly peaceful.
The story goes that Prometheus took the remains of the Titans and Zagreus and shaped them into the first human. In other versions of the tale, Athena was able to save the child’s heart and through death, Zacharias was reborn as Dionysus, the god of wine, joy, and ecstasy.
There is so much to the characters of this game. From the moody Olympian gods that grant Zagreus boons to Achilles’s sensitive heal and the tragic musician obvious to try to rescue his wife from the underworld but failed.
Even the items have interesting backstories. Ambrosia, pomegranates, Titanoboa… It would take a small eternity to tell you all the tales but maybe I managed to spark your curiosity. Sometimes it’s really worth it to take a little deeper. Although Hades is certainly a very entertaining game in and of itself.