What can we say about Hades that hasn't already been said? It's a genre-defining title that captured the hearts of millions of players around the world last year and went on to win many awards. Now, after almost an entire year since its full release, Xbox players can finally get their hands on the huge hit and see what all the fuss is about. A year on and Hades is still the masterpiece it was when it first launched, bringing some lovely enhancements over to Xbox Series X and Series S owners.
With its entry into Xbox Game Pass, there's going to be a wave of new players clicking that download button and getting themselves settled for a new adventure. But what makes Hades so unique and great? It all comes down to how it cleverly and playfully twists the conventions of the roguelike genre, turning it into something new. Up until now, it's been a pretty niche area of gaming that those unversed have most likely sheltered from. Hades expertly weaves its narrative into the gameplay to create a perfect entry for both genre old-timers and newcomers.
The simple premise of the game is you play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, who wishes to escape the Underworld. Obviously, it’s not as easy as one may seem, as Hades has placed many enemies, traps and other obstacles to prevent your escape. The simple goal is to ascend out of the Underworld in one single run without death. It’s a daunting task, but Hades works perfectly to ensure it never becomes tiresome.
Each time you die you're rewarded with more lore, nuggets of story and the ability to upgrade your own skills via gems you’ve found throughout your time escaping. You can even upgrade rooms in your adventure to ensure future runs are easier. The fact that there’s constant progression helps make the game more manageable, and situations that seemed impossible at the beginning slowly become child’s play. Being introduced to new elements and story beats every time you die makes death just as exciting, as you’re always rewarded with new surprises.
It’s this loop that has had fans captivated around the world and has turned Hades into the hit it is today. It also helps that the combat is extremely fluid with a ton of options. As you progress through you’ll unlock more weapons with the keys you'll find. These range from swords, all the way up to a Captain America style shield. Throughout each run, you meet inhabitants of the Underworld who will gift you upgrades that either stick around until you die or for a set number of encounters. Accompanied with the procedurally generated level design, it makes every adventure upwards feel fresh and unique.
Of course, we have to talk about the Xbox enhancements for the game, and playing Hades on a Series X makes it look fresher than ever before. The 4K resolution combined with the 60fps support allows the game to shine brighter than its Nintendo Switch counterpart. While PC players won’t notice much of a difference, having those increased visuals on a console set up is marvelous. That being said, we've experienced quite a few instances of slowdown in the frame rate, especially when switching to a new room. While it doesn’t do too much to jeopardise the experience, it happens often enough to be noticeable.
As expected, Hades knocks it out of the park, offering a stellar experience to Xbox players for the first time. It's every bit as incredible as it was a year ago, with punchy combat, an addictive gameplay loop and a cast of characters that prove to be charming and terrifying in the same breath. It's a shame a few frame rate issues sour the experience occasionally, but make no mistake, Hades is absolutely worth your time whether you're a fan of the genre or not.