Games

'Hades' Is the Perfect Roguelite for People Who Don’t Like Roguelites

We dive deep into why we love to die in our 'Hades' spoilercast.
October 13, 2020, 1:00pm
Illustration from Hades, main character Zagreus, with a red tunic, pale skin, and black hair, holds a sword in one hand while he steps on one of the heads of the bone hydra, a skeletal hydra who's other heads surround him.
Image courtesy of Supergiant Games

We've had a wave of Hades fever here at Waypoint Radio, so much so that we're doing a spoilercast! Supergiant Games has used their knack for evocative narrative, killer third-person-isometric-view action, and beautiful art and design in a roguelite package that has pulled everyone from our most hardcore roguelike players to people who've never touched the genre. Join Austin, Patrick, Gita, Cado, and special guest Jason Koebler as we dive deep into how Hades makes us want to delve the depths of the underworld again and again. We have mechanical spoilers throughout, and story spoilers start after the break (approximately 1:22:31).

Austin: I do think you've hit something distinct about this game versus an Enter the Gungeon or Binding of Isaac or even a Spelunky, I think the narrativization of the format does mean that they're fine with you not playing it for 200 hours, right? You will hit credits, and at that point [you can be like] “all right, I'm done with this game. I'm going to put it away on the shelf.” I think that that shows in the fact that it is a little more constrained on a run to run basis.

It's part of why it's so important to focus on the fact that you learn information about stuff over time, that you do have that slowly increasing floor of how powerful you are. Your keepsakes get more powerful, you get to upgrade stuff through the mirror, all that stuff is because unlike Gungeon, unlike Binding of Isaac, they want you to be done with this in 50 hours or 30 hours or whatever and be able to be like, “all right, cool, I'm done. I'm not going to stick around and keep going down this road, and I feel fulfilled” and that's okay because that's the sort of game this is, which I think is an interesting decision. It's a very Supergiant decision.

Gita: I feel like, yeah, this is a game where you might hit a certain number of hours and then stop playing, but that doesn't make it bad. It's interesting that it's straddling this line with a genre of game that has such a reputation for being so hardcore and for very intense people who like very intense games.

I do think just by the way that it is designed this game has to have an ending. Zagreus has to do something. He has a goal that he wants to achieve and he has to either achieve it or not. So you will hit an endpoint, but I feel different from both Patrick and Jason in that I don't know whether or not that will be the end for me. I just enjoy fucking around with the limitations of the game so much right now. I like that I understand the confines of it so I can break it in certain ways when I'm playing it.

Patrick: This is the joy of you playing Hades because it's your first one of these, right? You’re like baby Gita–

Gita: Little baby gita!

Patrick: – playing your first roguelike. Where Jason can fully articulate “this is kind of the roguelikes I like, this is the possibility space that I want to be in” and he can like Hades but also realize the limitations of how much time he can put into it, because he will hit his cap on his interest in it. You're still figuring out what that possibility space is, and maybe you'll put Hades down and go “fuck these other games, I just fuck with what Supergiant does and this was my one time into this world.” Which is cool in and of itself because I love games that can give you a glimpse of why people like things that you don't like.

Gita: Yes! Me too.

Patrick: Which is very rare for games to be able to pull people in [that way]. And it may be that it doesn't unlock the genre for you, but it lets you see like, “Oh, I get why Patrick or Jason, when they spend a hundred hours in one of these games, why they get so into it. Hades gives me a glimpse into what that feeling is like.”

But it's also because you're so early into playing this type of genre. You're just figuring out what your likes and dislikes are within the genre itself through the prism of Hades, which is really cool.

Jason: That said, this game is so polished. You'll play the other ones, and it's like the story and Hades is just incredible. The story keeps you coming back.

Patrick: Right, there’s going to be a disappointment in certain regards no matter where you go from here.


This transcript was edited for length and clarity.

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