With the announcement of Hades 2, developer Supergiant has shown its dedication to the IP as it is the first direct sequel that the San Francisco-based company has worked on. It will be centered around an entirely new character and story, but will maintain its Greek mythological roots and gorgeous art style, meaning it still fundamentally looks like a Hades game. The announcement at The Game Awards was a surprise to many, but it appears to be using a similar gameplay format to its predecessor, which was quite predictable, as the first game was so engaging and entertaining, even in death.
HadesHowever, the quality extends far beyond the gameplay. The way it develops character dynamics, progression systems that offset the frustration of dying and returning to the House of Hades, and the gorgeous art direction are all pillars of its success. It’s first and foremost a fantastic roguelike, but there’s potential for it to be so much more, especially given how different Supergiant’s previous works are from each other. Several genres can be explored in Hades license, and while it might be unwise to lean into the first-person shooter format, there is potential to stray in different directions after Hades 2.
Hades is rooted in mythology
At its narrative core, Hades is a story that uses famous characters from Greek myth to tell an underdog story. It is similar in theme to the twelve labors of Heracles, or Sisyphus’ seemingly never-ending quest to reach the top of the hill with his boulder. It is repeatable, and can be used in a wide range of genres and media. Zagreus’ trial-and-error approach to escaping the underworld is perfect for the roguelike format, but Hades‘ use of established characters can provoke more stories about them by using new game designs. Immortal Fenyx Rising and god of war has shown that Greek myth can fit seamlessly into hack-and-slash and open-world games, but Hades‘ take on the goods is one of the best so far.
Hades is a game with two different halves. On one hand, it’s a precise, action-packed roguelike full of tense combat encounters and intricate upgrades using Boons, but on the other, it’s an engaging family drama that makes House of Hades one of the most fun places to visit, even in death. The combat portion of the game can be swapped out for a variety of different gameplay philosophies without disrupting the character interactions when Zagreus returns home after a failed run.
Roguelikes are an uninviting affair
While platformers, puzzlers, and action/adventure titles are usually welcoming to everyone, roguelikes are notoriously prickly. It can be hard to convince people to experience a game that can cruelly remove progression by dragging them back to the beginning, so when a game comes along that looks nice and boasts interesting characters that Hadesit’s frustrating when someone notices that it’s punitive in design. Hades is one of the more forgiving games in the genre, giving players plenty of things to carry over between attempts, but it’s still a hard sell to those who find roguelikes frustrating rather than rewarding.
So much of the charm Hades is in art style, presentation value and characters. The combat is fun, and is a major factor in why players keep coming back, but Hades do enough of the other things right to have the potential to explore new genres. From 4X strategy games to choice-based narrative experiences, it can delve into more of the endless lore of Greek myth, but in a way that’s more inviting and adds diversity to Hades license, specifically granted Hades 2 uses a similar design to its predecessor.
Hades 2 is in development.
MORE: What to expect from Hades 2 in 2023