Published on August 18th, 2021 | by Hugh Mitchell
Hades PS5 Review
Summary: The 2020 game of the year Hades just got a PS5 release and it's still amazing with a bonus touch of a next-gen graphics and haptics!
Defy the god of the dead as you hack and slash out of the Underworld in this rogue-like dungeon crawler from the creators of Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre.
The hit game Hades from Supergiant Games has arrived on the PlayStation 5 that not only promises the same immersive and enjoyable experience of its original Switch and PC launch but more importantly delivers the perfect Rogue-Lite experience. The PS5 version (and XSX) also boasts 4K graphics at 60fps (frames per second) and the controls are well mapped and implemented on the DualSense controller. If you are new to Hades, you will be pleasantly surprised at the story, gameplay mechanics (including combat), visuals and audio on the PS5. However if you’re hoping to port your saves over from the PC or Switch, unfortunately this cross-save feature is absent so you will need to start again, not that this is a problem due to its flawless design. Another highlight of the PS5 release is that the game is available as both a digital download and a physical copy which almost has this retro feel to it and as a result, will more than likely become a collector’s item. The physical edition also comes with a download code for the Hades Original Soundtrack, by composer Darren Korb, featuring two and a half hours of blood-pumping music created for the game plus a full-color 32-page character compendium booklet, with artwork by Jen Zee, featuring the game’s colorful cast of gods, ghosts and monsters.
In terms of the basics, Hades is an isometric ‘Rogue-lite’ action game with a strong narrative element layered on top. You take on the role of Zagreus, the son of Hades, who is on a quest to escape the underworld and join the gods in Olympus, against his father’s wishes. Hades has instructed his minions of hell to stop Zagreus at all costs, however the gods of Olympus are trying to help Zagreus escape the underworld by offering their powers to him whenever they can. Unfortunately, escaping hell isn’t so easy – even for the son of Hades. If the minions of hell overpower Zagreus, he gets sent right back to his father’s doorstep only to be summarily chastised by Hades for his futile escape attempt, then promptly running off to try again.
The narrative in Hades plays out like a complex family drama with a huge cast of characters from the pantheon of Greek gods, each with their own backstory, personality and motivations that tie into Zagreus’ epic adventure. The characters are all fully voiced and written with a tremendous sense of personality that makes each of them feel interesting and unique, which makes you excited to see exactly what they have to say whenever you get the opportunity to speak with them. There’s also an astounding amount of dialogue written for every character, which works superbly to prevent the repetitious nature of the rogue-lite gameplay ever feeling stale.
On the subject of gameplay, Hades is a Rogue-lite, meaning it’s designed to be played repeatedly with each iteration being different from the previous and your character becoming slightly more powerful as you collect resources to unlock abilities to use on future runs. Each plane of the underworld is split into chambers, which are procedurally generated combat arenas filled with enemies, traps and environmental features that must be overcome in order to unlock the next chamber. Defeating all the enemies in a chamber unlocks a reward, either an ability to make you more powerful on this current run, or a currency that can be collected and used to unlock perks back in your home base to make you more powerful on future runs.
If the idea of playing the same thing multiple times sounds dull to you, Hades uses a variety of ingenious techniques to ensure that each new run feels exciting to start and a unique experience to play through. The first method was touched on earlier, with the delivery of the fantastic story and further development of the various characters revealed with each successive escape attempt. The second method is to ensure that there are plenty of perks and abilities to unlock with the various currencies and resources you collect on your runs. These range from passively increasing attack damage through to acquiring additional abilities.
The third technique Hades uses to ensure the gameplay constantly feels fresh and exciting is in the huge array of abilities and upgrades that you can acquire on a run to build a uniquely powerful character loadout. Before beginning an escape attempt, you have a choice from a variety of weapons to take with you on your run, more of which can be unlocked as you collect keys from completing chambers. These weapons range from a sword, bow and spear, through to a Captain-America-style shield and brawling gauntlets. Each of these weapons feel completely different and require unique combat strategies to be used effectively. PS5 owners will be pleased to know that the game uses the DualSense haptic vibration feature to make the game more immersive, particularly from a combat point of view that adds a sense of touch.
On top of this weapon variety, certain chamber rewards will grant you a choice of powers from the gods of Olympus that increase your damage and provide additional bonuses to your weapons or skills. For example, Zeus offers the power of lightning, which can be used to call a thunder strike down every time you dash away, or cast a zap of lightning to strike nearby enemies whenever you use your standard weapon attack. Aphrodite can empower your skills with a debuff that reduces enemy damage whenever they are struck. There’s a huge range of powers to draw upon through random chamber rewards and an even greater number of ways these powers can be equipped, resulting in a completely unique way to play the game every time you start a new run.
The cherry ontop of Hades’ incredible narrative and gameplay is the game’s phenomenal music and visuals. The screenshots throughout this article demonstrate the gorgeous use of colour and incredible visual designs used for the characters, environments, enemies and combat animations. Like on the Nintendo Switch, the game looks spectacular on 4K, especially with its 60fps that makes the gameplay very solid.
Accompanying these gorgeous visuals is Hades’ killer soundtrack (pun intended). The music perfectly sets the mood and tone of the gameplay depending on whether you’re in a combat encounter, a moment of respite or simply milling about the house of Hades, talking to its various inhabitants. If you listen to the OST, you’ll notice that the tracks are also ingeniously structured to build intensity over the course of the song. This gradual rise in musical energy matches up with the amount of time you spend in each layer of the underworld – the longer you survive, the more intense the challenge you’ll face, and this energetic soundtrack absolutely pumps you up to achieve maximum demon butt-kicking potential.
While a port to the PlayStation 5, Hades is still a masterclass in game design on this next-gen console. It flawlessly integrates its incredible story with its exceptional gameplay in ways that very few games have been able to achieve before it. The gameplay is tight, complex and addictively fun to engage with. The visuals are absolutely stunning and the music is phenomenal on the PS5 with none of the “issues” of the Nintendo Switch version. So if you’re seeking a compelling game to invest your time in, this Rogue-Lite game called Hades is absolutely worth it!
- BATTLE OUT OF HELL
As the immortal Prince of the Underworld, you’ll wield the powers and mythic weapons of Olympus to break free from the clutches of the god of the dead himself, while growing stronger and unraveling more of the story with each unique escape attempt.
- UNLEASH THE FURY OF OLYMPUS
The Olympians have your back! Meet Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, and many more, and choose from their dozens of powerful Boons that enhance your abilities. There are thousands of viable character builds to discover as you go.
- BEFRIEND GODS, GHOSTS, AND MONSTERS
A fully-voiced cast of colorful, larger-than-life characters is waiting to meet you! Grow your relationships with them, and experience thousands of unique story events as you learn about what’s really at stake for this big, dysfunctional family.
- BUILT FOR REPLAYABILITY
New surprises await each time you delve into the ever-shifting Underworld, whose guardian bosses will remember you. Use the powerful Mirror of Night to grow permanently stronger, and give yourself a leg up the next time you run away from home.
- NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE
Permanent upgrades mean you don’t have to be a god yourself to experience the exciting combat and gripping story. Though, if you happen to be one, crank up the challenge and get ready for some white-knuckle action that will put your well-practiced skills to the test.
- SIGNATURE SUPERGIANT STYLE
The rich, atmospheric presentation and unique melding of gameplay and narrative that’s been core to Supergiant’s games is here in full force: spectacular hand-painted environments and a blood-pumping original score bring the Underworld to life.