Hades is a roguelike action dungeon crawler video game developed and published by Supergiant Games. It was released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Nintendo Switch on September 17, 2020, which followed an early access release in December 2018. Releases for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S are slated for August 13, 2021.
Players control Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he attempts to escape from Underworld to reach Mount Olympus, at times aided by gifts bestowed on him from the other Olympians. Each run challenges the player through a random series of rooms populated with enemies and rewards. The game has a hack and slash combat system; the player uses a combination of their main weapon attack, dash power, and magic ability to defeat them while avoiding damage to progress as far as possible. While Zagreus will often die, the player can use gained treasure to improve certain attributes or unlock new weapons and abilities to improve chances of escaping on subsequent runs.
Hades was developed following Supergiant’s Pyre, a game in which they wanted to explore procedural narrative storytelling, but due to the nature of the main gameplay, found that players did not play through Pyre multiple times to explore this. The roguelike structure of Hades gave them the opportunity to tell these branching stories to the player over the course of multiple runs.
A commercial and critical success, Hades received praise for its gameplay, art direction, music, narrative and characters and sold over one million copies. It was named 2020’s game of the year from several award ceremonies and media publications.
The player takes the role of Zagreus, the prince of the Underworld, who is trying to escape the realm to get away from his dispassionate father, Hades, and reach Mount Olympus. His quest is supported by the other Olympians, who grant him gifts to help fight the beings that protect the exit from the Underworld. He is also helped on his quest by notorious residents of the Underworld, such as Sisyphus, Eurydice, or Patroclus. The game features four “biomes”, or locales of the underworld: Tartarus, Asphodel, Elysium, and the Temple of Styx.
The game is presented in an isometric view with the player in control of Zagreus. The player starts a run-through of the game by trying to fight their way through a number of rooms; the rooms are drawn from a pool of pre-determined layouts, but their order and the enemies that appear are randomly determined. The game has a hack and slash combat system. The player has a primary weapon, a special attack, and a magic “cast” which can be used from long range. Upon starting a run, one of the Olympians will provide a Boon, a choice of three persistent boosts for that run that the player can select from; the Boons are themed based on the Olympian, for example with Zeus providing lightning damage effects. Subsequently, after clearing a room, the player will be shown the type of reward they may earn if they complete the next room or choice of next rooms, ranging from additional Olympian Boons, weapon upgrades, restorative items, obols to spend at Charon’s store, or items that can be used in the meta-game in the Underworld that affect future run-throughs. Should Zagreus’ health points drop to zero, he “dies” and ends up facing his father, removing all Olympian Boons, weapon upgrades, and obols granted from the last run.
Between runs, Zagreus can explore the House of Hades before setting on a new quest. Here, the player can use items recovered from run-throughs to impact the meta-game. The player can unlock and upgrade abilities for Zagreus, order construction of new Underworld features that may appear in future run-throughs, or obtain or upgrade new weapons. They can also have Zagreus interact with the various characters of the Underworld and improve his standing with them, which provide narrative elements to the game and may also provide quests with additional rewards. The player also has the option to romance some NPCs as the plot progresses.