Hades

A game by Supergiant Games for PC, not yet released.
Hades is a roguelike actioner where you take on the role of Zagreus, the prince of the underworld and son of Lord Hades. Zagreus is attempting to escape the underworld, despite his father’s insistence that such an act is impossible. Still, Zagreus does not relent in his attempts and takes joy in defying his father and witnessing his displeasure. Each time he is killed, he returns once more to the House of Hades, rising up from a pool of blood and standing in a line of souls awaiting their meeting with the god of the dead.


Along the way, Zagreus makes many friends, all of whom are pivotal figures in the Greek pantheon. Some of these folks, like Achilles and Nix, hang about the House of Hades, while others like Sisyphus and Charon wander the underworld, and still others communicate with Zagreus from upon Mount Olympus, offering gifts to aid him in combat. By furthering conversations with these individuals – and offering them gifts – Zagreus slowly begins to learn more about the world around him, and about his own origins.


Zagreus begins the game with a sword that allows him to perform a 3-hit combo, or a short range area attack by jamming the sword into the ground. He can also perform a dash, and transition from a dash into an attack to perform a quick lunge and a faster version of his 3-hit combo. Throughout the game, he earns keys that allow him to unlock new weapons, each with different attack types, ranging from a bow and arrows, to a spear, to a Diskarmor-like spiked shield, to a rapid fire ranged weapon.


Players who have experienced the combat in the developer’s previous isometric actioners, Bastion and Transistor, will be right at home here, as the variety of combat options opens gameplay to a number of approaches. Similarly, enemy design encourages players to experiment with different weapons and attack types, often filling rooms with foes that require different tactics and making the player think strategically about how to handle them all.


Combat is arena-based, and rooms remain locked until all of the enemies in the area are defeated. Rooms are procedurally arranged, each starting out with a handful of enemies, but waves new enemies spawn into the rooms over time. Handily, a sigil appears on the floor showing where each enemy will appear and which direction it will be facing once it does. This allows the player to take advantage of perks like backstabbing bonuses for attacking enemies from behind.


Often, the player can use the environment to his advantage by slamming enemies into walls for added damage, cornering them, knocking them into pools of lava, or smashing pillars to make debris fall down onto them. Players can even knock enemies into spike traps or onto buttons that trigger nearby statues to fire projectiles, but this only works on ground-based foes. Periodically, the player encounters explosive objects and enemies, which highlight their explosive range when triggered. These explosives can harm the player if he gets too close, but the player can also knock or lure enemies into the blast range to harm them as well.


Enemies come in the form of quick-hit popcorn enemies, hulking brutes, enemy spawners, and a variety of projectile-dispensing baddies that chuck magical blasts, lasers, and even bombs. Some enemies are also shielded, requiring players to wear down their protections before affecting their health meters. Combat can get hectic in a hurry, but enemy designs and colors make it easy to parse the action. Still, players need to remain quick on their feet to avoid damage from every angle while delivering it quickly in return. Boss encounters work similarly, although bosses have a wider range of attacks and significantly longer life bars. These battles wear on a bit, due in large part to the fact that bosses summon increasing numbers of support enemies that distract the player from meting out damage to his primary target.


Once all of the enemies in a room are defeated, the player may open the door to the next room, or choose between two doors. Each door displays the reward that awaits the player for completing the next room, often offering a choice between a key, an upgrade, purple energy, or gold coins. The player occasionally meets NPC’s who offer similar rewards as well. Health upgrades increase the player’s health meter for the current run, which is handy given that there are few restoratives to be found across the game. Keys are used to unlock upgrade tiers and new weapons between runs. Purple energy allows the player to purchase minor upgrades between levels, such as increased backstab damage, more starting health, and higher chances for better rewards during each run.


Gold coins are only good during the current run – as they are lost upon getting killed – and can be spent in Charon’s in-dungeon shop. Purchasable items include purple energy, health upgrades, temporary strength increases, and poms that upgrade one of your gifts from the gods, as well as furniture for your room in the House of Hades. Periodically, you’ll come across a treasure trove, and you have the option of completing a trial, such as killing a room full of enemies as quickly as possible, with your payout determined based on how well you fared. Similarly, the game features a number of challenge rooms where the player must simply stay alive for a set amount of time while loads of enemies are spawned into the area.


The player frequently encounters icons representing the various gods, each of whom offer a different type of perk or upgrade to aid the player in combat, and each perk is themed to the god in question. While most offer increased damage output, they are further supplemented with secondary effects, such as Zeus’ chain lightning to hit multiple enemies, increased movement speed courtesy of Hermes, projectile deflection to bounce shots back at enemies, explosive damage effects, increased effectiveness against armored foes, and the addition of poison or other secondary effects to strikes.


Upgrades are randomized across runs, and the variety in abilities allows players to choose upgrades that play to their strengths, while occasionally offering significant alterations to how the player engages enemies. For instance, adding a deflection ability to your dash maneuver encourages you to zip between rows of enemies to attack heavy foes while sending projectiles back to the enemies who cast them. Explosive attacks allow you to get up close with heavy weapons to deal damage to clusters of enemies with a single strike.


The player travels through multiple themed areas, beginning his journey in Tartarus before moving into Asphodel, Elysium, and beyond as he attempts to reach Olympus. Between levels, the player can walk into a side room to look out over the cityscape while Zagreus ponders how he’ll eventually make his escape. This screen also shows the player the furthest number of chambers reached during his prior runs. This area is also where the player can equip the weapons he has unlocked, practice using them on a living skeleton, and select from one of many gifts he has received from the characters he has encountered.


Aesthetically, the Supergiant pedigree is on full display. Colors are bold and sharp, characters and enemies have distinct visual styles, and there is a cohesive world design, accompanied by an upbeat soundtrack. The game’s narrative is layered on as the player completes multiple runs and reengages characters in conversation, with new details being learned over time. Characters have distinct personalities, and the voice actor for Zagreus plays him as unflappable and a bit bored with eternity, putting him directly at odds with his overbearing and easily agitated father.



2D CRED
Hades was developed by Supergiant Games, a studio based in San Francisco, California and founded in 2009.


Supergiant’s first game was Bastion, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a survivor, simply known as "the Kid", is working to build a safe haven for those who remain. In order to do so, the Kid travels to a number of floating islands to battle monsters and gather resources. As he travels, the world builds itself beneath his feet, giving the player an indication of which areas remain to be explored while allowing the developers to showcase the artwork of the backgrounds and isometric environments of this colorful organic world. The entirety of the game is narrated, with each of the Kid's actions and encounters detailed by a gruff-voiced narrator who recounts the tale as though it were a grand story from long ago.


Following the success of Bastion, the studio went on to develop Transistor, set in the world of Cloudbank, where people - and even entire buildings - have been inexplicably disappearing, and the government is keeping this information from the citizenry, so a woman named Red sets out to find out what is really happening. This is an action RPG that mixes in strategy RPG elements, as players may pause time and plan out a series of moves. The game features a deep combat system with loads of customization, allowing players to equip a wide array of weapons, modifiers, and passive buffs.


The studio's third game was Pyre, a party-based RPG focusing on a group of individuals who have been exiled from the Commonwealth, but they learn of a set of rites that may allow them to return home with their transgressions forgiven. Each of the exiled characters has different abilities which aid them in the competition, and players must learn to use the strengths of each character cooperatively, as only one can be controlled at a time. Each team has a pyre on their end of the arena that they must defend, while also attempting to carry a glowing orb into the pyre of their opponents, which temporarily removes that player from the playfield. Players must take advantage of speed to get the orb to the other side of the arena, strategy to avoid attacks from competitors, and auras to disable their foes and remove the orb from their possession.


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