It speaks volumes for an indie games' quality for it to be rivalling The Last of Us: Part II for the most nominations at The Game Awards. Hades is just that good though. It's a game that is truly firing on all cylinders and represents the best that developer Supergiant Games has to offer (that's saying a lot considering the studio also produced hits like Bastion and Pyre). It feels endlessly replayable due to its roguelike design, its combat is fluid and fast, and its visuals are just dripping with charm. With the exception of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, few indies have received as much love as Hades this year, and it certainly earns its place in the spotlight.
Hades saw the team at Supergiant take a very different approach as they planned the game from the start and decided to take the early access route. We've seen many games fall off the face of the earth since launching in early access, but Hades is definitive proof that the process can indeed be beneficial if handled with care. It also saw the team venture into the unknown as a procedurally generated roguelike wasn't something that was within their backlog of previous titles. Prior to Hades, the team mainly produced stylised action RPGs, with each one feeling distinctive, but none straying off the beaten path quite like Hades did.
Roguelikes aren't exactly known for their in-depth narratives, but this is an area that Hades excels in. Hades' narrative follows the son of Hades, Zagreus, who desperately wishes to disobey his father and leave his home of the underworld behind. Along his journey Zagreus meets many larger than life characters including the many Gods of the underworld, and Skelly, his own undead punching bag. Each of these characters feel fleshed out with so much personality and the voice acting is top notch across the board.
Something that we should stress is how addictive and endlessly replayable Hades is. There's just so many variations that you can encounter to make each run feel different and there is always that itch to jump back in to see whether your odds will improve. There are different powers that the Gods can bless you with and you'll constantly find yourself at a fork in the road where you'll have to decide whether you'd rather enter a room containing gold or more health, for example. On top of all of this, you can add permanent upgrades to your character and the dungeons themselves by collecting either darkness or gemstones.
The combat feels fluid and rapid in pace, as you constantly need to dash around to avoid oncoming projectiles and enemies getting within your personal space. The variety of the enemies is great in that they will always push you to keep moving and you'll have to plan out during the action which ones are the most effective to take down first. There's Skull-Crushers that slam into the ground, harming anything in their radius, Megagorgon's that can transform you into stone with projectiles and nests filled with skulls that will continue to respawn homing skulls unless eliminated. The boss design is just spectacular too and just like in Binding of Isaac, it never felt like a chore to reface them as their encounters are just so fun.
Hades represents a new standard for indie games and it's one that we can't see ourselves putting down soon. It's combat is fast-paced, it feels endlessly replayable, and its story is brought to life with a cast of many larger than life characters. We've got our fingers crossed that this one will be coming to the PS4 and Xbox One soon, as this is one that fans of roguelikes shouldn't live without.