I’ve been hooked on Hades for a week now. The near flawless newish rouge-like by Supergiant Games is the best experience they have created and a contender for game of the year. Look, if you hate, rogue-likes specifically for their focus on difficulty and mastery or if a game expects you to “get good” in order to get some kind of enjoyment out of your leisure time, I’d still give this one a try.
A learning curve is definitely something inherent to most games. Where things differ per genre is usually what kind of learning you’re doing. Where they differ per person is what kinds of learning you find fun.
At this point in my life, I would say I treat video games more as a medium to provide entertainment and less as a skill to improve. It is a balancing act. I mean, I absolutely cannot understand how someone would not find at least satisfaction, at most enjoyment, out of improving at something. Even if it’s only for the sake of it. To me the game is asking me to learn, try things out, fail, and try again. That is the sort of the recipe of every worthwhile experience.
Some cannot stand the “go in blind, inevitably fail somewhere, get punished by being shoved back to the start, restart with only a little bit more knowledge, fail, get punished by being shoved back to the start…” loop that many games mandate. It feels like being asked to learn how to play a symphony by getting marched up onstage to sight read the thing blind, and every time you screw up, the conductor cuts you off, flips your sheet music back to the beginning, smacks you with the baton for good measure, and makes you start all over. That’s a painful, miserable way to learn.
Building up skills, practicing things in sections, stitching them together, and then tackling the whole thing in one go to see how well you can do: that’s a different proposition. Games can feel like this, if they’re designed well. All too often, though, there’s just crazy-ass difficulty spikes or “okay, I was getting good at X technique, but all of a sudden the devs zagged and now they want me to do Y without explaining themselves” scenarios.
Hades is worth it, really. The game expects you to die at first, but it’s integrated in the story, in the dialogues, etc. They’re not useless, punishing deaths. The game tries to give you runs so you can try the power ups and figure out which one you prefer, and as you get deeper into it, you’ll be able to “force” gods to appear more often and such so you can build yourself in a way that you prefer.
Probably the best thing about Hades is its insane attention to detail. Characters will comment on what boons you’ve picked up, the weapon and aspect you’re currently using, how quickly you completed your last run, what side-quest you’re doing or House upgrade you’ve bought, even details you’ve found by reading the Codex. Hades has some of the best voice work to be put into a game in ages. They topped 15,000 voiced lines. All the audio in the game is done at a level that far exceeds the majority of games these days. The gameplay is crisp and responsive, strategies — especially for progression — tend to be intuitive, the mechanics and currencies are dense but introduced gradually.
Hades has that wonderful Supergiant polish, outstanding music, a brilliant script, incredible performances, and rock-goddamn-solid gameplay. Their devotion to their craft is staggering. Easily one of the best rogue-likes I’ve played, and I’ve played quite a few.