Entry by Kevin Ghouchandra
A. BASIC INFORMATION
- Amir Rao (Design)
- Gavin Simon (Engineering and Design)
- Greg Kasavin (Design and Writing)
- Andrew Wang (Engineering)
- Darren Korb (Music and Sound)
- Jen Zee (Art)
- Josh Barnett (UI and Visual FX)
Creation technology: Microsoft XNA
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Date of original release: September, 17th 2020 (Epic Games Store, Nintendo Switch, Steam)
Platforms: PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, Playstation 5
Version used for entry: Nintendo Switch Ver 1.0.38233
Peripherals required: Speakers/Headphones
Rating: ESRB T (Teen)
- Golden Joystick Awards 2020: Best Indie Game, Critic’s Choice
- The Game Awards 2020: Game of the Year (Nominated), Best Indie, Best Action
- 17th British Academy Games Awards: Best Game, Artistic Achievement, Game Design, Narrative
- 24th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards: Game of the Year, Action Game of the Year, Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game, Outstanding Achievement in Game Design, Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction
- Nebula Awards: Best Game Writing
- Hugo Award: Best Video Game (Special Award)
- 21st Game Developers Choice Awards: Game of the Year, Best Audio, Best Design
B. LITERARY INFORMATION
Related Literary Genre(s): Epic, Quest narratives, Classical Mythology and Literature
Hades centers around Zagreus, son of Hades, the lord of the Underworld. (In classical mythology, Zagreus is said to be the son of Zeus by Persephone.) Zagreus feels alienated from his father and, after finding out that the goddess who raised him, Nyx, is actually his foster mother, and that his biological mother (Persephone) is alive and somewhere beyond the underworld, he resolves to defy his father’s strict orders not to leave the underworld and find her. During his escape attempts, various figures from Greek myth attempt to stop him at the command of Hades. The strongest figures standing in his way are the three Furies (Megaera, Alecto, and Tisiphone), the Lernaean Hydra, Theseus and Asterius, the Minotaur, and, at the entrance to the underworld, Hades himself. The Olympian gods, under the impression that Zagreus wants to escape the underworld and its inhabitants in order to join them on Olympus, lend him their support in the form of boons: powers that strengthen Zagreus during an escape run.
When Zagreus reaches Greece in the surface world, he finds his mother Persephone. Zeus, without telling the other Olympians, forced Persephone to marry Hades, leaving the other Olympians to think she has gone missing. She ran away from the Underworld because she was under the impression that Zagreus had died at birth, and decided not to return to Olympus in order to remain free of Demeter, her overbearing mother. Zagreus’ first successful escape attempt also reveals that, being a god of the underworld, he cannot survive in the conditions of the surface world for long, and will inevitably be returned to the House of Hades. After several visits, Zagreus convinces Persephone to return to the underworld and builds a more positive relationship with both her and his father. In the interest of rebuilding Hades’ and Zagreus’ relationship now that Persephone has returned, Zagreus’ escape attempts are transformed into an official position: testing the security of the underworld in order to prevent others from escaping like Zagreus has. Persephone, seeing the value of rebuilding her immediate family, enacts a plan to have Zagreus invite the Olympian gods to dinner in the House of Hades to announce that she had gone missing because she and Hades had ‘eloped,’ and to acknowledge Zagreus officially as her son. This event smooths over the past conflict the Olympians had with Hades, and Zagreus finally connects with his relatives. Persephone, now out of hiding, visits Olympus periodically, but now fully embraces her part in the underworld and Zagreus’ life.
Suitability for Teaching:
Hades is an excellent ludic companion to the Greek myths and works containing those myths, such as Orpheus and Euridice, Theseus and the Minotaur, The Iliad, Theogony, and various Homeric Hymns. It is an engaging way to introduce students to a major component of Greek mythology/cosmology: death and the afterlife. It is an example of a contemporary envisioning of these characters and their stories, conspicuously altering details of the myths to address concerns such as sexual assault and incest, particularly the kidnapping of Persephone and the incest among Zeus and his siblings, while leaving the overall events of the myths intact. Rather than re-tell the story of these myths, Hades is part adaptation and part sequel, mostly dealing with the ongoing repercussions of these stories. The game provides enough explanation of the world and its relationships that reading these myths beforehand is not necessary, but enriching. Hades cuts out much of the gory detail present in some of the original myths and their treatments. While this might be regarded as sanitizing these stories, Hades does feature significant combat and is focused primarily on developing the stories of the relationships between the characters.
Hades can also usefully be compared with works of epic literature more broadly, because Zagreus is both a hero figure and because the story of Hades contains many of the elements of the monomyth (see The Hero with a Thousand Faces), though this monomyth is updated and more contemporary: Zagreus is caring and emotional; the story focuses on his connection with his mother figures; and he is not heterosexual.
Hades can be used alongside other material depicting non-monogamous or polyamorous romance that is not framed as dishonest or cheating. Zagreus has two plotlines that end with romantic or at least sexual connections. One is with Megaera, the first boss of the game and one of the Furies, whose job is to torture the dead who have earned punishments in the underworld. The other is with Thanatos, god of death who brings mortals from the surface to the underworld. Zagreus grew up knowing both of them and spends much of their respective plotlines fixing their frayed connections. These romances are concurrent if the player chooses to complete both those storylines. While they do not have an explicit conversation about the state of Zagreus’ relationships, Zagreus’ polyamory is acknowledged by both Thanatos and Megaera. Even the romance plotline with Dusa that ends with her and Zagreus being friends is a departure from a majority of romantic content. It is a good example of stories about LGBTQ+ characters where their focus is not exclusively on their sexuality.
C. GAME INFORMATION
Game/eLit Genre(s): Rogue-like, Dungeon Crawler
The gameplay centers on Zagreus’s escape attempts (or ‘runs’) from the underworld. This premise draws on the theme of entering and/or escaping the underworld and death throughout mythology, and references some of those myths, such as Sisyphys tricking Thanatos, Cerberus guarding the door out of the underworld, or Orpheus attempting to rescue Eurydice. He begins in the House of Hades, sets his equipment and upgrades, then starts his escape. The underworld consists of four areas: Tartarus, Asphodel, Elysium, and the Temple of Styx, each comprised of individual rooms that can present combat encounters, a shop run by the boatman of the river Styx, Charon, and special NPC (non-player character) encounters. After completing each room, he will encounter sets of doors, each with a symbol indicating the reward for that room. Rewards can be resources, Boons with unique icons for each god, or temporary upgrades. Some doors will have a skull icon underneath the reward icon, which indicates a mini-boss, Trial of the Gods room, or an increased difficulty encounter with normal enemies. In a Trial of the Gods, the Boons of two different gods whose Boons Zagreus has already accepted on that run will be presented. Zagreus must choose one, then complete a combat encounter with the added difficulty of attacks from the god not chosen. Once the encounter is cleared, an additional Boon from the not chosen god will be rewarded. Once encounter rooms are cleared, the icons for the next set of doors will be revealed. At the end of each area (after a set number of rooms) is a boss. At the end of Area 4, Zagreus fights Hades, the final boss. If he wins, he successfully escapes the underworld or ‘clears’. After each area except the final area, there is an interim room that contains a healing fountain, a Charon’s Shop where items that grant temporary Boons or health can be bought for obols, a Pool of Purging where Boons can be sold for extra obols, and the Keepsake Chest (if purchased from the House Contractor, where upgrades for the House of Hades and world at large can be purchased). If Zagreus gifts one Nectar to a character, they will gift him with a Keepsake, which when equipped provides a variety of benefits. These range from forcing encounters with specific gods, to granting extra abilities. Only one can be equipped at a time, but once per area, Zagreus can swap his equipped Keepsake.
The first three areas operate in much the same way, where a certain number of rooms must be cleared to encounter the boss. The fourth area, the Temple of Styx, operates differently. Upon entering the Temple, there will be a lobby with a permanent Charon’s Shop, five doors with different rewards, two of which will be skull doors, and Cerberus (the three-headed dog) blocking the exit. Each door leads to a chain of five rooms after which Zagreus may be rewarded (in addition to the reward displayed on the door) with a bag of ‘meat’ that can be used to convince Cerberus to stop blocking the exit to the surface world. Zagreus must keep clearing doors to find the bag. The first door will never contain the bag, but the odds of finding it increase after each door is tried.
Drawing upon the theme of the gods granting gifts and abilities, they gift Zagreus with the powers he needs to escape the underworld. Boons are upgrades tied to each of the gods who help Zagreus on his escape attempts. There are eight Olympians who can be encountered (Aphrodite, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Poseidon, and Zeus). Rather than appear directly, the Olympians can be spoken to in the forms of Orbs that Zagreus can come across while looting the underworld for treasure. These Orbs can be won as rewards for clearing combat rooms, or purchased in the shop run by Charon. When Zagreus interacts with them, he speaks with the respective god and is then given a choice between three of their available Boons. Zagreus has one slot for Boons for each of his standard moves (attack, special, cast, dash, and call). Each god is also associated with a status effect or some other advantage in combat, so taking multiple Boons from the same god, and choosing Boons that synergize is important for maximizing a build. Each Boon can be of one of four standard rarities (common, rare, epic, heroic) which affect the strength of that power. Certain upgrades can increase the likelihood of being offered higher rarity Boons, or Zagreus can ‘exchange Boons’. If a god offers a Boon that would replace a Boon in one of Zagreus’ move slots (attack, special, dash, cast), they will always offer their version of the Boon of upgraded rarity. Boon rarity can be upgraded after receiving it by choosing ‘Ambrosia Delight’ if encountering Eurydice, or Demeter’s Boon, ‘Rare Crop’. Boons also have a level that strengthens their power (all start at Lv.1), that can be boosted with Poms of Power (won as combat rewards or purchasable in Charon’s Shop). Some Boons require other Boons to have been taken first before they can show up as a choice, such as the ‘Legendary’ Boon of each god, which generally have multiple requirements. Each Olympian also has a Duo Boon (a Combo Boon) with every other Olympian (except Hermes), which require specific Boons from both gods (Boon requirements can be viewed in the codex entry for that god if the upgrade has been purchased from the House Contractor).
Two other gods, Hermes and Chaos, can also give Zagreus Boons. Hermes does not offer Boons that occupy Zagreus’ move slots or have a status effect, but instead support other Boons, such as attack or movement speed increases. Gates to Chaos’ realm can sometimes be found in rooms, and Zagreus may pay health to access the gate in lieu of the available doors. Chaos will offer boons that start as a Curse (such as a damage penalty for certain actions or a debuff) that lasts a certain number of combat encounters before transforming into a positive Boon (such as damage boosts or buffs). There is also a hidden function called the ‘God Pool’. If Zagreus accepts a Boon from a god, they are added to the ‘God Pool’. If he accepts Boons from four gods (not including Hermes and Chaos), other gods will stop appearing as room rewards or in shops. It is possible to circumvent this, but normally this will be the rule.
On runs, Zagreus can collect some resources that he will retain even if he dies (Darkness, Skeleton Keys, Gemstones, Nectar, Titan’s Blood, Diamonds, Ambrosia) and some will disappear on a death or clear (obols). Boons, Daedalus Hammers, Poms of Power, and Centaur Hearts, give various upgrades during an escape, but disappear at the end of an escape attempt.
Some of Zagreus’ most important permanent upgrades come from the Mirror of Night, located in Zagreus’ bedroom. Here, Keys can be spent to unlock, and Darkness used to upgrade, abilities that persist across escape attempts. Each ability has two versions (though only one can be active at a time). The versions impact similar aspects of Zagreus’ abilities, but function differently (for example, Shadow Presence gives a damage bonus for striking enemies from behind, and Fiery Presence gives a damage bonus for striking undamaged enemies).
After defeating Hades for the first time, he will enact the Pact of Punishment on Zagreus’ escape route. Before starting a run, Zagreus can add any of 15 different difficulty conditions such as boosting enemies or limiting Zagreus in some way, with each given a numerical value of ‘heat’. Every time Zagreus clears with a weapon, the heat requirement for that weapon goes up by one, and if Zagreus adds enough heat to meet the requirement, the rewards for defeating bosses are refreshed (otherwise they will drop Darkness). Since these rewards are important resources, players must keep adding difficulty as they clear more times (and grow in skill). For struggling players, ‘god mode’ is a menu option that increases Zagreus’ damage resistance by a percentage that increases by 2% each time Zagreus dies with god mode on, up to 80%.
Hades is part of the wider roguelike genre (named after the game Rogue, Hades breaks from the traditional definition, but remains part of the genre), characterized by elements including exploration of challenging random dungeons that require skill and practice to beat, resource management, and permanent death. Hades is one of the most accessible roguelikes, but is still a difficult game. Expect to die regularly, especially early on. Unlike other roguelikes, Hades’ permanent resources means that dying will not reset all progress; however, to successfully escape consistently, becoming skilled in utilizing all the game systems will be required. Zagreus on each run must curate a set of attacks and power ups that ideally synergize to make Zagreus powerful enough to fight through all four areas and defeat Hades. Curating the builds mainly consists of acquiring upgrades, Boons from the Olympians complimentary to his weapon, and increasing the rarity and level of these Boons for maximum effect. The major focus of the gameplay is on skill-building, where players should become comfortable with as many weapons and boons as possible to intentionally create builds while on runs and flexibly adapt their build when needed. Zagreus as he clears rooms must maintain his health, collect temporary resources to improve that run, and collect permanent resources to improve Zagreus’ power across all runs.
Time to complete: Main Story 22 Hours; Main + Extras 47 Hours; Completionist 96 Hours.
Replay required/useful? No.
In most (non-combat) areas, one-time golden points of interest can be found that, when interacted with, prompt dialogue from the narrator about the world and its characters–be on the lookout for these for world building. As much of the narrative in this game lies in its dialogue and sometimes this dialogue can take multiple cycles to appear, speak to every available character when given an opportunity, and regularly raise affinity with characters as stores of Nectar/Ambrosia will allow, to maximize the chance of necessary dialogue appearing that will advance storylines. Prioritizing characters found only on escape attempts (Megaera, Thanatos, Sisyphus, Eurydice, Patroclus) will keep those storylines from dragging behind the more available ones. Note that in the House of Hades, characters may not always appear, so check after each escape attempt.
The opening of the game gets right into the action. On the first run the sword will always be equipped and Athena will always be the first god encountered. Take this time to become familiar with the combat and all of Zagreus’ basic moves: attack, special, dash, dash-strike (attacking at the end of a dash), and cast (casting throws a bloodstone at an enemy that lodges into them, doing damage. The mirror of night and several Boons add effects or change the mechanics of the cast). While it is possible to clear on a first run, it is unlikely for new players. Upon death, return to the hub area, the House of Hades.
The House of Hades
After exiting the Pool of Styx, speak to Hypnos, who comments on Zagreus’ deaths after failed escapes. Beyond Hypnos is the central area with Hades’ desk, Cerberus the Hound, the House Contractor (a vital source of upgrades), and Orpheus, the court magician. Head left to the west wing and speak to Achilles, Zagreus’ combat teacher. Heading up will lead to a set of artifacts on pedestals, where Dusa can sometimes be found and the entrance to Hades’ and Persephone’s bedroom. Initially there are only points of interest in the bedroom, but after Persephone returns to the underworld, the Resource Director will appear and award Zagreus badges for his role as ‘security specialist’ for increasing amounts of the resources that can be found on runs. The badges are symbolic and do not offer any gameplay advantage. Head down from Achilles to find the door to the administrative chamber and a small area where Thanatos can be found when he appears in the house. After dying on a run, Zagreus will have a flashback about the chamber, after which access can be bought from the House Contractor (3 Diamonds).
Head right from Hades’ Desk to the east wing with a hallway where Nyx, Zagreus’ adopted mother, can be found. The branches of the hallway lead to the Lounge (if purchased from the House Contractor), Persephone’s Garden (accessible after her return), and the entrance to Zagreus’ Bedroom. Visit the Lounge to find the Wretched Broker who will trade resources for different resources, the Head Chef who will award various resources for Fish, Megaera (sometimes after runs in which she has been defeated), and Dusa (occasionally). In Zagreus’ Bedroom is the Mirror of Night, which uses Nyx’s power to give Zagreus permanent upgrades in exchange for Darkness. After purchasing the Minor List of Fated Prophecies from the House Contractor it will be on a desk in Zagreus’ room and offer rewards for completing certain tasks such as character’s storylines or using all the possible build elements on runs. When ready to head out on a run, go through the door in the back of Zagreus’ Bedroom to find the Arsenal Room. Skelly can be found here along with all the weapons, the Keepsake Cabinet, and the door to escape the House of Hades, with the Pact of Punishment once it has been activated. One weapon will have an Aura of Darkness around it, and choosing that weapon for your escape attempt will grant bonus Darkness, and will change after each attempt.
Competing the Various Storylines
To complete the main game, escape the underworld ten times. After each successful escape, speak to Persephone to progress the story and be returned to the House of Hades. When she agrees to return, the credits will roll. To complete the epilogue, keep speaking to Hades to hear about Zagreus’ now officially sanctioned escape attempts, Persephone to hear about her return, and Zeus and Demeter to hear about how Persephone is considered missing by the Olympians. Once 6 of the Olympians have reached 7 hearts in affinity (8 for Hermes, 6 for Demeter) and the necessary dialogue has been seen, Persephone will ask Zagreus to invite each Olympian to the House of Hades (Zagreus may also invite Chaos if their affinity is high enough and by speaking to Nyx about it). Completing this will trigger the epilogue.
Beyond the necessary tasks for completing the game, there are many optional storylines. To progress in any storyline, gift Nectar until a locked heart is shown on the Affinity Chart in the Codex, complete each character’s favor to unlock the heart, and gift Ambrosia to fill the remaining hearts. Speak to characters regularly to prompt the dialogue that progresses their individual characters/plots. Always gift before speaking to a character, as sometimes the option to gift will disappear after the dialogue. Each character that can be gifted has a special requirement to unlock their locked affinity heart, called a Favor. Once Zagreus leaves the House of Hades, he may encounter and gift/speak to the characters found only in the underworld (the Olympian Gods, Charon, Chaos, Sisyphus, Eurydice, and Patroclus), and when he escapes or dies, he can speak to the characters that appear in the House of Hades (Hades, Persephone when she returns, Nyx, Achilles, Orpheus, Hypnos, Cerberus, Dusa, and Skelly). Megaera and Thanatos operate slightly differently where they can be encountered on runs, then may subsequently appear in the House of Hades once Zagreus returns from that same run. After each run where they have been encountered check for them so as not to miss an opportunity to gift and speak to them. Thanatos can sometimes be gifted when he is encountered on runs and sometimes must be gifted back at the house, so pay attention. Because certain characters can only randomly be found during escape attempts, always keep a few Nectar/Ambrosia on hand in case they are encountered.
Nectar can generally be collected as room rewards, by trading in the Fish found in Elysium to the Head Chef in the House of Hades, and trading with the Wretched Broker. Ambrosia is collected by defeating Theseus and Asterius while using the Pact of Punishment to refresh rewards, and from the Wretched Broker. Some of the favors will require purchasing Administrative Chamber access from the House Contractor.
Sisyphus – Find Sisyphus by choosing the NPC encounter door in Area 1, Tartarus. Speaking to him will reward Zagreus with a choice of some recovery, obols, or Darkness. Gift and speak to Sisyphus until Zagreus expresses wanting to help him, and speak to Bouldy several times (gifting Bouldy is not necessary). Speak to Hades and Megaera until they comment on Sisyphus’ punishment. Speak to Nyx until she tells Zagreus the location of Sisyphus’ contract, retrieve it from the Administrative Chamber, then buy ‘Knave-King’s Sentence’ from the House Contractor (4 Diamonds) to complete his Favor.
Orpheus and Eurydice – Meet Orpheus by buying ‘Court Musicians Sentence’ from the House Contractor (1 diamond), after which he is found in his chair in the main hall of the House of Hades. Meet Eurydice by choosing the NPC encounter door in Area 2, Asphodel. Speaking with her will reward Zagreus with a choice to boost the level or rarity of Boons. Gift and speak to both of them to learn of Eurydice’s death and Orpheus’ failed rescue. When they ask for Zagreus’ help, speak to Nyx to find the location of Orpheus’ contract, retrieve it from the Administrative Chamber, then buy ‘Singer’s Gamble’ from the House Contractor (3 Diamonds). Orpheus will now sometimes be found in Eurydice’s room.
Achilles and Patroclus – Achilles can be found in the west wing of the House of Hades. Meet Patroclus by choosing the NPC encounter door in Area 3, Elysium. His gifts can restore death defiances, give temporary recovery, or a temporary attack boost, any of which will be useful. Gift both and speak to them to learn of their shared past and deaths. When both are at locked hearts, Patroclus will eventually have Zagreus tell Achilles to ‘risk it all’. Tell Achilles this, speak to Nyx to find Achilles’ contract, retrieve it from the administrative chamber, then buy ‘Hero’s Sacrifice’ from the House Contractor (5 Diamonds) to complete both of their Favors. Either Orpheus or Sisyphus must have been freed from their contracts first to do this. During subsequent visits to Patroclus, Achilles may also be present.
Megaera – Megaera is one of the bosses of the underworld and a romantic option for Zagreus. She can be spoken to and gifted by defeating her when she appears as a boss on runs, then checking the House of Hades afterward where she may appear (primarily the Lounge once it has been bought from the House Contractor). To complete her favor, after having met the other two Furies, gift her Nectar until her locked heart, then keep progressing dialogue with her until the second time she visits Zagreus’ room, after which her Favor will be completed.
Thanatos – Thanatos is a romantic option for Zagreus. He can be randomly encountered on escape attempts after he is first encountered in Elysium (there is a percentage chance of encountering him, so if it doesn’t happen right away, it will eventually). There are two possible opportunities to speak and gift him and one will be available per encounter, immediately after winning one of his challenges, or after runs in which he was encountered but not spoken to, he may appear outside the Administrative Chamber. To complete his Favor, gift him Nectar until his locked heart, then tie or win in one of his challenge encounters while on a run. Afterwards speak with him a couple more times and it will be completed.
Dusa – Dusa is the maid of the House of Hades, and one of the romance routes. She can be found in various locations. To complete her Favor, progress her dialogue about getting to know Zagreus and purchase at least 12 Lounge upgrades from the House Contractor, including at least one rug and the orders to clean up Cerberus’ mess. After her Favor is completed, to max out her affinity Zagreus will gift her increasing amounts of Ambrosia (totaling 10) after which she will offer to give them back or keep them permanently (there is no penalty either way, so you may as well take them back)
Hypnos – Hypnos keeps track of deaths and will often comment on Zagreus’s manner of death after failed escapes. Speak to Hypnos and Thanatos to prompt dialogue about Hypnos’ work ethic. Once affinity has been raised to the lock and all the necessary dialogue has been prompted, Hypnos’ Favour will be completed.
Nyx and Chaos – Nyx is Zagreus’ adopted mother and the one who prompted him to escape with the help of the Olympians. Chaos can be found by entering chaos gates while on escape attempts. Gift and speak to both enough times for their dialogue about wanting to reconnect, until Nyx discusses the Eldest Sigil in the administrative chamber, then purchase the Work Order to restore the Eldest Sigil from the House Contractor, for 3142 Darkness.
Hades – Progress until Persephone returns to the underworld, then speak to Hades.
Charon – Spend 10,000 gold in his shops (can either be the shop rooms or the fountains that can be found across the underworld) across all runs, then speak to him. There is no in-game way of tracking this.
Zeus – Have other gods comment on him by encountering them for the first time after receiving a Boon from Zeus on that run. This is not necessarily the same dialogue as that when finding a Duo Boon for the first time.
Poseidon – Make it to the Hades boss fight at least once (winning is not necessary), then purchase the Rod of Fishing from the House Contractor. After catching 18 Fish, encounter Poseidon for the first time that escape attempt after having caught a Fish.
Athena – On the attempt after a successful escape, encounter her to sometimes prompt dialogue of her congratulating Zagreus. After 3 unique ones, her heart will unlock.
Aphrodite – Complete the storylines of Dusa, Megaera, and Thanatos (the three romances), then speak to her.
Artemis – Progress dialogue with her until she finishes speaking of of Callisto.
Ares – Kill at least 2,000 enemies then speak to Ares until he comments on this. After killing 10,000 enemies keep speaking to him again until he comments again on this. If the Pool of Scrying is purchased from the House Contractor, it can keep track of how many enemies have been killed.
Dionysus – Gift at least 10 Ambrosia to at least 6 characters, then speak to him until he comments on this (keep in mind that Ambrosia can only be given as gifts to characters whose Favors have been completed, meaning that completing Favors for at least six other characters is required).
Hermes – After giving him one Nectar he will give Zagreus the Lambent Plume Keepsake. Upgrade it to the max by carrying it on runs, then speak to him with the maxed out Plume equipped.
Demeter – Complete the epilogue of Persephone’s plan to reunite the family, then speak to her until her heart unlocks.
Cerberus – Pet him at least 20 times in total (it can all be done in one sitting if desired).
Skelly – Unlock 3-4 (the exact number is unconfirmed) aspects of weapons that are not ‘Aspects of Zagreus’ using Titans Blood. Unlock and upgrade the ‘Aspect of Zagreus’ on the Stygian Blade to level 5 and ‘kill’ Skelly with it.
Persephone – After she returns to the Underworld, progress dialogue about her fears about being a good mother.
Tips and High Priority Upgrades
In terms of spending resources, Keys should first go to unlocking every weapon, then to unlocking all the Mirror of Night talents. The first Diamond should go towards freeing Orpheus so his dialogue can begin, then save some Diamonds for the special NPC quests. When gathering Nectar, focus first on giving one to each character to earn their keepsake, particularly the Olympians, as their keepsakes force encounters with them (if their boons are needed for an intended build or to progress their story), and Cerberus, which gives a large health boost. When Ambrosia can be acquired consistently, consider stockpiling it to max out Dusa’s affinity first, then take them back from her and give them to others whose favors have been completed.
Focus for the early part of the game on choosing doors that grant permanent resources to start buying upgrades.
Boons that focus on high damage hits (especially Aphrodite) work well with weapons that have a heavy attack. Boons that give stackable status curses (such as those of Ares, Dionysius, Zeus, and Demeter), work well with weapons that deal many hits quickly. The Shield is an excellent weapon, especially for struggling players because it can block attacks from the front when charging bull rush. The Aspect of Chaos in particular synergizes well with status curses.
Recommended Mirror of Night abilities (in order of priority): Death Defiance, Greater Reflex, Dark Regeneration, Fated Persuasion, Gods’ Legacy, Thick Skin, Golden Touch.
House Contractor upgrades are essential! Prioritize all the work orders, except the themes as those are purely cosmetic. Many require buying other work orders first or progressing through the underworld a certain amount, so buy what is available (note: buying Erebus Gates unlocks the difficult optional challenge of clearing encounters without taking damage, so skip unless that challenge is desired). The other categories are mostly cosmetic, except ‘Service, Deep Cleaning’ and ‘Service Detailing’ under the Lounge category, which are required to access the Lounge. Buying the Aquarium for the Lounge tracks how many Fish have been caught. For bedroom upgrades, the Scrying Pool will keep track of number of escape attempts and number of enemies killed, and the Lyre will start a small storyline of Zagreus learning to play by speaking with Orpheus and Eurydice.
One of the most important aspects of creating a build is choosing boons that compliment the equipped weapon. Often focusing a build on one attack or combo of attacks, or a status curse helps to keep build from becoming too unfocused. Becoming familiar with as many mechanics as possible means that even random builds can clear, but these are general guidelines for how to think about creating builds.
- Status Curses: Statuses can do direct damage or debuff enemies in some way. Taking multiple Boons that inflict the same status can help maximize its impact, especially when combined with Boons that grant additional bonuses to statuses, for example Athena’s ‘Brilliant Riposte’, which increases the damage of deflected attacks, and her ‘Blinding Flash’ which inflicts the exposed status onto any enemy hit by a deflected attack.
- Legendary and Duo Boons: Legendary and Duo Boons are some of the best in the game, and require specific other Boons to be accepted before they can appear as a choice. Choosing Boons with the Legendary or Duo in mind is often a good strategy if lucky (purchase the Codex from the House Contractor to see Legendary and Duo Boon requirements, listed under the respective god)
After the Rod of Fishing is purchased from the House Contractor (you must make it to the Hades boss fight at least once), always check for Fish (a bell sound when completing a combat encounter or entering a non-combat room) and remember to sell them to the Head Chef before escaping again.
Always keep Nectar and Ambrosia on hand when starting an escape attempt in case the Olympians, the special encounters, or Thanatos are encountered.
Checking off achievements in the Fated List of Minor Prophecies (purchase from the House Contractor) is a good way to get rewarded for trying new things out.
D. SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hades_(video_game)
Metacritic critic reviews:
- PS4: https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/hades/critic-reviews
- PS5: https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-5/hades/critic-reviews
- Xbox One: https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/hades/critic-reviews
- Xbox Series X: Page not working
- Nintendo Switch: https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/hades/critic-reviews
- PC: Page not working
YouTube story and gameplay videos:
The Story of Achilles and Patroclus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdo3s0keAy4
Zagreus, Thanatos, and Megaera Bedroom Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4uyc7SBSlc
Fandom Wiki: https://hades.fandom.com/wiki/Hades_Wiki
Epilogue Guide: https://hades.fandom.com/wiki/Epilogue_Guide
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Vol. 17. New World Library, 2008.