“Just you wait, Father”; I’ll be out of here in no time
Supergiant Games’ latest is a roguelike dungeon crawler that puts you in the shoes of Zagreus, prince of the Underworld and, apparently, a captive in his own home. Your goal? Slice through the forces sent by your deranged father, the God of the Dead, Hades, so you may finally escape your birthplace and see the light of day.
The story sounds amazing, right? The gameplay is even better with all the multi-layered systems that are in place, and that’s really saying something in this day and age where almost every title is overly derivative of what’s popular.
Stunning though Hades may be, it’s an equally unrelenting game, and if you’ve just picked it up, you’ll be confused at every step of the way unless you put your mind to it. But if you want to skip past the torment, and don’t want to struggle for 10 hours straight figuring out the ropes like me, here’s a complete kickstarter guide consisting of dozens of tips and tricks for Hades that’ll have you up and about in only a few minutes.
Beating Hades: Knowing What’s What
Before you even think of beating the game, you need to know what exactly you are supposed to do. The objective is escaping the Underworld, but to do that, you’ll have to survive a gauntlet of 40ish chambers, levels that have a specific number of enemies you need to kill before you can proceed.
There are bosses scattered after every interval. As you proceed, Hades keeps getting harder, but the more you play, the more you learn, and the better you get. If you happen to die at any chamber, you’ll have to start from scratch, although you’ll retain any previously unlocked permanent upgrades, and all dialogue already exhausted, so when you die, the game and characters always know that.
Chances are, you won’t beat the game on your first attempt. What you should do is, do a couple of runs at the dungeon, learn the mechanics, get a hang of the weapons, unlock upgrades, and ultimately, pave the way for the run that’ll help you beat the final boss.
House of Hades: Your Safe Haven
The House of Hades serves as the central hub area in Hades. Here, you can talk to a plethora of different NPCs that’ll give you quests, and upgrades, so it’s best if you interact with everything. The House also changes, and adds new things each time you die, so pay attention to what’s new, and see whether it’ll help you out.
The Gods: Friends or Foe
Hades is based on Greek mythology, the one where gods like Zeus, Aphrodite, Hermes, and many others rule the world. Since you’re Zagreus, the son of Hades, Zeus and pretty much every other deity is your cousin, uncle, or auntie. So when the Olympian gods find out that their favorite nephew needs to get out of the Underworld, they lend you a hand by sending Boons.
Boons are upgrades that are limited to each run. They can either give you passive abilities or active ones and whatever you choose, it’s always a ton of help. Your attacks become stronger, and you may hit multiple times now, so the more Boons you have, the stronger you get.
Zeus’ Boon may give you lightning attacks, while Poseidon’s could get you an awesome finisher. Whenever you pick one, just make sure it fits the build you’re going for or else it may even end up working against you. I personally hated Aphrodite’s passive abilities like more health from items, but for anyone who’s too aggressive, that could be a game-changer, so pick wisely.
At times, you’ll encounter Chaos, a peculiar NPC in Hades. His Boons offer a temporary debuff in exchange for an upgrade after a few chambers. It may seem like a disadvantage at first, but the 50% more health or damage upgrade will definitely help you later on, so don’t shy away from them unless necessary.
Your Arsenal of Chaos
In Hades, you’ll have plenty of weapons at your disposal. You start off with a sword, but collect enough “Chthonic keys” during your runs, and unlock magical guns or a mythical trident. Instead of the jack of all trades, master of none approach, being specific will benefit you here. Unlocking all weapons should be your first priority, and then focus on beating the game with the one that suits you the best.
Keepsakes, Talents, and the Contractor
Keepsakes are items you’ll unlock after giving gods “Nectar“, an object you find in-game that’s supposedly a symbol of respect and love. The keepsakes you get in return are quite useful, and have a variety of different effects like more health or getting a guaranteed Boon from a specific god. They’re extremely useful, and using them will instantly give you the higher ground.
As for Talents, they’re the game’s abilities that’ll remain permanently unlocked throughout the entire game. After gathering Darkness from your time playing Hades, spend them all at Nyx’s Mirror in Zagreus’ room, and gain upgrades like more dashes, health, and extra lives. They’re refundable, so go nuts.
That about sums it up for the basics, but a few more things that’d help would be getting the prophecies table, among dozens of useful other things, from the contractor in the House of Hades as it’ll give you huge rewards after you complete certain tasks.
Always Prioritize Daedalus Hammers
Daedalus Hammers are items you’ll encounter in select chambers, if you so happen to choose the one containing it, and believe me, you should always do that. Whatever weapon you’ve got equipped, the Hammer will completely change its moves and add insane passive effects such as life steal or more damage. Even if you’ve got the option to get multiple Boons, always prioritize the Daedalus as it may just be your way out.
Making The Most Out of Your Runs
With the fundamentals out of the way, now let’s talk about beating Hades. By this point, you know how tough the Underworld can get. But it’s understandable that it’s this same toughness that keeps Hades so fresh and trending. The intentionally haphazard level design does a great job of throwing you off your game, so it’s always pretty hard to devise a plan or run that’ll end up being “the one”. To overcome that, there are two tips I’d give you that’ll prove timelessly useful.
Practice Makes Perfect
Experiment with absolutely everything. For the first few hours, don’t think about beating the game. Instead, focus on learning enemy attack patterns, which at first glance looks as if they have none, but believe me, they always do, even bosses. Get a feel for the areas; Tartarus, Elysium, Styx, and the others, and judge how best to use the traps there to your advantage.
Once you realize whether you’re a spellcaster or melee warrior, start creating builds that’ll support your playstyle. Always change Keepsakes between terrains, and choose those that you think will be useful to defeat the boss coming up ahead. A handicap in Hades is that you can’t ever heal on command, so be wary of your health bar, and always stack up on blood whenever you visit Charon’s shop for purchasing Boons or items. And lastly, Dash like there’s no tomorrow. That’s the golden standard for avoiding any kind of damage.
Focus on Getting a Summon
Giving Nectar to a god for the first time gets you a Keepsake, but when you repeatedly do that, your synergy with that god will increase to an extent that’ll allow you to summon them during battles and deal massive damage to enemies. But it’s worth noting, there are only six gods that are summonable; Achilles, Megaera, Dusa, Sisyphus, Thanatos, and Skelly. Finding it hard to keep track of how much Nectar you’ve given to who? Don’t miss out on buying the Codex as it’ll not only reveal to you how much Nectar you’ve given to each God, but will also provide insights on everything from a detailed explanation of Boons to how to unlock more gameplay features.
The Great Escapes
When you’ve finally developed a tempo, and have some permanent upgrades to boost your chances of success, it’ll officially be time to leave the Underworld once and for all.
The rule of thumb goes something like this:
Pick the weapon that you’re most used to, equip the Keepsake that’ll provide the best support, and then go for the Boons that you know have the best effects to match while also keeping in mind that Daedalus Hammers are the best upgrades. Afterwards, it’s just a matter of trial and error before you escape the depths of the Underworld.
Hades Will Give You Endless Hours of Fun, Literally
Just a heads up. Escaping in Hades is just the beginning, but there’s a small spoiler lying ahead, so if you’re not ready for it, bail out now. Beating the game for the first time doesn’t give you the real ending. Nope, you have to take down a mystery boss a whopping 10 times to get the full story. But even then, the game isn’t quite over yet – there’s still more to uncover.
Hades won multiple Game of the Year 2020 awards for a reason – it’s a game that never seems to end. With each successful completion, the game introduces new changes, but due to the intentionally designed story loop, you’ll always find yourself back at the House of Hades (for now). Don’t rush it – take your time and enjoy every aspect of Supergiant Games’ supergiant roguelike, from beginning to whenever it ends.