The indie gem arrives on the PlayStation and Xbox platforms, is it worth the return to the Underworld? My full review.
This review was originally published on Best Buy Blog, for more of Matthew “Dapper Tux” Rondina’s tech and gaming work, please visit here.
The critically acclaimed roguelite has arrived on PlayStation and Xbox consoles. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, attempting to escape from the Underworld to better understand your past. The game is developed and published by Supergiant Games known for stellar titles like Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre. The indie game had its initial release in 2020 on the Nintendo Switch and PC. It went on to win multiple awards for its unique gameplay, art style, and creative storytelling. Zagreus has returned on next-gen platforms, let’s find out if the experience translates well on new hardware.
The story of a dark prince
You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, who is desperately trying to escape the Underworld to reckon with his past. Aided by Nyx and the Gods of Olympus, you are given unique powers to aide you on your quest. Hades won’t let Zagreus leave without a fight, so he releases the forces of hell to stymie your progress. Facing off against the Lord of the Underworld and his minions will have you dying a lot. Don’t fret, you are an immortal god after all, after each “death” you simply respawn in the House of Hades ready for another run. It’s up to you to guide Zagreus through a seemingly unending underworld to unearth truths about your past.
"Facing off against the Lord of the Underworld and his minions will have you dying a lot."
Graphical comparisons across platforms
The art direction and graphics in Hades are stunning and unique. The weapon effects are dazzling and move at blistering pace that keep up with the combat. This time around everything is even sharper on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The biggest difference over the original 2020 launch on the Nintendo Switch comes via a resolution bump on the new consoles. The PS4 and Xbox One Hades displays at 1080p and target 60 FPS. When it comes to the PS5 and Xbox Series S|X the game is an ultra-sharp 4K / 60 FPS. I only noticed slowdown a few times when there were multiple enemies onscreen. Hades is a visual feast with incredible hand drawn backgrounds and a style all its own.
"The art direction and graphics in Hades are stunning and unique. The weapon effects are dazzling and move at blistering pace that keep up with the combat."
Addictive gameplay loop
The gameplay loop of Hades has gone relatively unchanged since its original release, and this is a good thing. The controls are streamlined and easy to grasp at first, you have a standard melee, special attack, cast for ranged strikes and a dash button. You can battle with 6 different weapons that have four different variants. This helps to keep combat fresh and constantly evolving through each different playthrough. The game introduces more complex combat as you progress letting you decide your playstyle through various upgrades. These come in the form of “blessings” from the Gods that you can combine. Some work well extremely well together, while others are best left in the depths of the Underworld.
"The gameplay loop of Hades has gone relatively unchanged since its original release, and this is a good thing."
A stellar soundtrack
The games’ soundtrack and voiceover work are another big highlight of the experience. Just like the other artistic elements in Hades that work in tandem, the audio design is no different. As you enter a showdown or a slower area the tempo of the music matches the pace of the action. The multi-instrument, industrial soundtrack is part of the game’s signature experience. The arrangements are hard hitting much like the fast-paced combat you are constantly confronted with in Hades.
"The multi-instrument, industrial soundtrack is part of the game’s signature experience."
Overall thoughts on Hades
Hades is an incredible experience that you shouldn’t pass up. Supergiant Games has created a winning formula that redefines the roguelite genre. It rewards players for their efforts, even when they are unsuccessful in interesting new ways that build into the game’s narrative. The sharper visuals and more stable framerate on the PS5 and Series X has gone a long way to improve the overall experience.
+ Incredible storytelling
+ Exceptional gameplay loop
+ Beautiful graphics and overall visual design
– Minor drops in framerate on next-gen hardware
– Next-gen hardware like the DualSense controller could have been better optimized
OVERALL ASSESSEMENT OF HADES
Gameplay: 4.5/5 Graphics: 4.5/5 Sound: 5/5 Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5