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Hades is out now, holy heck

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
Unfortunately, though, the bits I thought would annoy me annoy me a lot. Unlocking new weapons, drops, and passives is cool and good, since those change up how I play and approach the game. But leveling up those passives just feels like I’m grinding to remove handicaps, which frustrates the crap out of me.
I think I can relate to this. My only real complaint with this game after playing it for 60+ hours is that it holds the player back a bit too much. Like, once I finally beat the final boss, I didn't lose a run except for 1 time (I'm on like a 17 run streak or something). And it makes me wonder how sooner I would've been able to beat the final boss if all the mirror talents were at maximum power from the beginning (or at least when you first unlock them).
 
Is the grinding in Hades worse than in something like say Rogue Legacy, for example?

I haven't played it yet, but my sense is that "roguelike but also you have to grind a lot" being a popular and potentially lucrative concept that's often done extremely poorly is a ship that already sailed a long time ago. From reviews I got the impression that Hades is a rare good version of a concept that was already unfortunately popular but usually (in my opinion) bad, rather than a new thing.
 

Sprite

(He/Him/His)
It’s nowhere near as bad as Rogue Legacy. I’m pretty sure every run is winnable, and if you’re good at action games you’ll be able to get pretty far just on instinct. As annoyed as I am by the meta mechanics, every death has been my own fault.
 

Mr Bean

Chief Detective
I finally picked this up during the steam sale after I realized I could plug my ps4 controller into my computer. It’s real good! I played way too long last night and keep topping out at Elysium, but it’s a fun grind so far. Just trying to get the keys to unlock more mirror upgrades and the weapons right now.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
I completed twenty runs and only now have I been able to finish a sidequest. I was really hoping patching things up between Orpheus and Eurydice would have opened one of the Companions I've heard about. That whole storyline seemed like a big one, but nothing much happened.
 

karzac

(he/him)
Is the grinding in Hades worse than in something like say Rogue Legacy, for example?

I haven't played it yet, but my sense is that "roguelike but also you have to grind a lot" being a popular and potentially lucrative concept that's often done extremely poorly is a ship that already sailed a long time ago. From reviews I got the impression that Hades is a rare good version of a concept that was already unfortunately popular but usually (in my opinion) bad, rather than a new thing.
I haven't played Rogue Legacy, but it's my understanding that that game is pretty light on narrative? I think Hades works because of the story - the game just wouldn't make sense if you escaped on your first attempt (although it's certainly possible). The permanent upgrades in Hades feel less like a necessary grind and more like a consolation prize for failed runs.

And the constant drip of story content gives a non-mechanical reason to keep playing. It's the most like a serialized TV show that a game has ever felt to me.
 

MrBlarney

(he / him)
I think I can relate to [feelings of annoyance from leveling up passive abilities across multiple runs]. My only real complaint with this game after playing it for 60+ hours is that it holds the player back a bit too much. Like, once I finally beat the final boss, I didn't lose a run except for 1 time (I'm on like a 17 run streak or something). And it makes me wonder how sooner I would've been able to beat the final boss if all the mirror talents were at maximum power from the beginning (or at least when you first unlock them).
Well, the Mirror of Night is capable of absorbing tons of Darkness; I still had some room to spend even after putting the game down at almost 90 hours of play. Also, you get a large chunk of Darkness after getting your first clear, which goes a good distance towards boosting future clears. Finally, there's always the ability to use the Pact of Punishment's Heat system to push the difficulty of the game alongside your passive growths -- or even use the Pact to see how well you fare with a reduced number of your passive benefits.

It is an interesting question when it comes to roguelikes with permanent progression, though, how to balance them to make that progression feel more like you're adding onto a functional base kit rather than trying to fill the holes in a threadbare base kit. There are definitely some aspects of the Mirror that feel like essential components, but those are the cheaper, early benefits. Once you get those early essentials filled out, the more expensive perks feel more like bonuses than required. (I was able to complete the game on my 17th run, which seems to be a fair way on the left side of the distribution.) Additionally, the story progression in Hades definitely helps to give incentive to keep playing and make more runs. After I finished the epilogue scenes, and a few runs to get dialogue on its aftermath, I was much less compelled to continue climbing the Heat ladder, and finally set the game aside in favor of other games in the backlog.

Spelunky 2 is one of those games that was waiting for its turn after Hades, and I haven't put nearly as much time and energy into figuring that game out. Its very traditional stance of having no permanent progression (aside from shortcuts, which I'm saying don't really count) along with its unforgiving nature means that it requires a completely intrinsic desire to improve in order to complete the game. With Hades, you have story and permanent resources as extrinsic motivators, even though the permanent progression does carry with it the question of whether it is individual skill or character progression that drove victory. (I'm pretty much cribbing from Game Maker Toolkit's video on roguelikes for this sentence.)

With any roguelike with permanent progression, you can always start a fresh file and see how many fewer perks you need in order to get a clear. I definitely did that with Rogue Legacy, mostly 'cause I didn't like how it handled its New Game+ changes. But Hades is pretty brilliant with the Heat system. Since you get rewarded for climbing the Heat ladder, you will want to engage with its increased game difficulty, alongside the aforementioned story reasons to continue playing. And Heat is very granular and progressive, which gives a lot of player agency on how they tailor their future runs.

If nothing else, I would love to see the Heat system get implemented into more roguelike games in the future. Permanent progression is great for making games accessible to a broader audience, but Heat helps to keep those experts continuing on for more. One Step From Eden, which is a roguelike Megaman Battle Network, recently had a patch which changed its ascension system from a completely additive ladder like Slay the Spire and Monster Train to be a bit more piecemeal. It's not as elegant or clean as Hades, and its progression systems are 'horizontal' (think Binding of Isaac or Enter the Gungeon), but I'd like to think that it's a potential indicator of change in how roguelikes get designed.

EDIT: I guess it's worth mentioning that Heat systems aren't really new; Supergiant's included them in their previous games, and they appear in other games like 20XX. But I always felt like the rewards weren't worth it in those titles, so I never really engaged with them. Notably, I seem to have put in a little over three hours into 20XX, gotten one clear, and then not bothered to go back to it. So I guess there really needs to be something substantial like story in order for me to keep playing a roguelike game. I guess I don't have as much time and energy as I used to in order to push towards higher individual game proficiency.
 
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YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
Well, the Mirror of Night is capable of absorbing tons of Darkness; I still had some room to spend even after putting the game down at almost 90 hours of play. Also, you get a large chunk of Darkness after getting your first clear, which goes a good distance towards boosting future clears. Finally, there's always the ability to use the Pact of Punishment's Heat system to push the difficulty of the game alongside your passive growths -- or even use the Pact to see how well you fare with a reduced number of your passive benefits.

It is an interesting question when it comes to roguelikes with permanent progression, though, how to balance them to make that progression feel more like you're adding onto a functional base kit rather than trying to fill the holes in a threadbare base kit. There are definitely some aspects of the Mirror that feel like essential components, but those are the cheaper, early benefits. Once you get those early essentials filled out, the more expensive perks feel more like bonuses than required. (I was able to complete the game on my 17th run, which seems to be a fair way on the left side of the distribution.) Additionally, the story progression in Hades definitely helps to give incentive to keep playing and make more runs. After I finished the epilogue scenes, and a few runs to get dialogue on its aftermath, I was much less compelled to continue climbing the Heat ladder, and finally set the game aside in favor of other games in the backlog.

Spelunky 2 is one of those games that was waiting for its turn after Hades, and I haven't put nearly as much time and energy into figuring that game out. Its very traditional stance of having no permanent progression (aside from shortcuts, which I'm saying don't really count) along with its unforgiving nature means that it requires a completely intrinsic desire to improve in order to complete the game. With Hades, you have story and permanent resources as extrinsic motivators, even though the permanent progression does carry with it the question of whether it is individual skill or character progression that drove victory. (I'm pretty much cribbing from Game Maker Toolkit's video on roguelikes for this sentence.)
There's always going to be tradeoffs when a game is designed one way vs. another, yeah. Personally I don't really like self-managed difficulty and prefer when a game throws difficulty levels at me instead, so the granular nature of the Heat system is okay but probably not the most appealing way to do it for me personally. But I do think the end-game grind in Hades has a pretty big hole when you can't get cumulative Heat rewards by jumping way far ahead on the Heat ladder; that's part of what I'm speaking to when I said it's "holding the player back." Like, I would absolutely try to clear a run at Heat 20 or something around there if it meant I would instantly get all the rewards for Heat 1-20 on a weapon. Is that a nitpick I have with the otherwise pretty stellar game design? Maybe, but I wouldn't classify it as a nitpick; as it is now, Heat rewards are a very weak incentive for players who are "pretty good" at the game. And I'm sure they designed it this way because of how singular each run in the game is supposed to feel, but it's not like the post-credits story would be negatively impacted by this reward change-up either. And I know Hades isn't the first roguelike to have this side effect of its difficulty system, but it is the first one I've both played and am good enough at to feel frustrated by the limitation.
 

MrBlarney

(he / him)
But I do think the end-game grind in Hades has a pretty big hole when you can't get cumulative Heat rewards by jumping way far ahead on the Heat ladder; that's part of what I'm speaking to when I said it's "holding the player back." Like, I would absolutely try to clear a run at Heat 20 or something around there if it meant I would instantly get all the rewards for Heat 1-20 on a weapon.
Oh, I definitely know what you mean by this. While you can always overcharge your Heat gauge to climb the ladder faster, there's no extrinsic benefit given by the game to do so. And so there is a bit of an annoying feeling of the grind to build up Heat one rung at a time; I ended up with a 29-game win streak in my own campaign with the game while doing my climb.

But individual differences being what they are, it seems that I was less annoyed with that aspect of the game than you. While it would be hilarious for the final boss arena to explode in a trove of rewards from completing an overheated run, I can also see why the single-stepped Heat reward system is in place for the game. As it was, I went along with the slow progression, trusting in the game that it would have enough on the story and dialogue side of things to maintain my interest.

As an aside, I think that one thing I really like about Heat, beyond customizability of the difficulty modifiers, is that it is easy to see the total sum of what you're stacking against yourself. With games like Slay the Spire or Monster Train, you need to remember what gets added with each level in order to see the full total of your burdens. (At least, I think that's the case -- I don't actually have that much personal experience with either of those games.)
 

Sprite

(He/Him/His)
Managed my first escape after 14 runs. Funnily enough, I bashed my head against the Heroes like eight times but then bested Hades on my first try. Though I guess if you have a build that trivializes the former, you know you’re set for the latter.

The boss design in this game is stellar. I love how most of their moves are just amped up versions of stuff regular enemies do, so I never feel like the game is taking a cheap shot.

I don’t know how much I’ll keep playing. The story hasn’t grabbed me at all so I don’t feel too motivated to keep grinding and see what happens. It’s a great game and another win for Supergiant, but I’m scratching my head as to how it ended up being GOTY for a lot of folks. I guess i don’t have the itch that this game scratches.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
The heroes are way harder than Hades (and in fact all the bosses teach you something about how to fight Hades).
 
Had way more trouble with Hades than the heroes and for far longer. (think I actually beat them the first time I met them, but I don’t remember) Also I was not one of those people (seemingly the majority) who only needed to beat Hades once to keep doing it.

e: oh hey Bulgakov... same (well, I eventually got better and have since stopped playing)
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
How do you folks like to build your spear runs? I've had a couple of winning runs with it so far but I haven't quite figured out how to make it Really Good yet. I feel like Poseidon on attack would be good to take advantage of the reach, but beyond that I'm not sure.

I didn't like the Aspect of Achilles when I tried it, and I don't want to use Guan Yu until I can level it all the way up, so I've been using the Aspect of Hades, if that's helpful.
 

Denn

(him)
The heroes are way harder than Hades (and in fact all the bosses teach you something about how to fight Hades).
I think the Heroes are the most open to various strategies out of all the bosses, so I wouldn't strictly say that they're harder. They can certainly be overwhelming if you don't play your cards right or you have a difficult build (I don't like fighting them with the bow). But, there are relatively safe strategies to keep things manageable.

I do like how the Hades fight is a bit of a culmination of the other boss fights. That's some clever design.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
idk, for me I hit a major wall with the heroes. I lost to them probably a dozen times before breaking through. That's after five or six against Meg, and ZERO losses against the Hydra. Hades I got on the third or fourth attempt, so by that metric I rate them as the hardest.

Hades phase 2 is difficult but so long as you stay close to the pillars so you can duck behind one when he goes laser crazy, I usually find it's not so bad as long as I have a Death Defiance or two left.
 

Paul le Fou

AAAAAAAA
(He)
How do you folks like to build your spear runs? I've had a couple of winning runs with it so far but I haven't quite figured out how to make it Really Good yet. I feel like Poseidon on attack would be good to take advantage of the reach, but beyond that I'm not sure.

I didn't like the Aspect of Achilles when I tried it, and I don't want to use Guan Yu until I can level it all the way up, so I've been using the Aspect of Hades, if that's helpful.
My favorite spear aspect is Achilles; I really like the mobility it adds to the kit. It also boosts attack and cast damage by a good bit, so it leaves a bit more open to different boon combos I guess? But the dash is extremely good for dodging and moving to safety, especially by throwing it at enemies and then rushing through to the safety of behind them when they charge you.

The Hades aspect debuff is nice and long, and the extra spin range is good. I personally find it a bit less consistent overall, esp with the spear's special being a less impressive damage source for me.

I used Guan Yu once. I've never wanted to again.

+% attack boons seem to work better for the spear because both Achilles and Hades give you +attack% (Hades also gives %special, so same applies). Aphrodite and Demeter, of course. Poseidon is good; the range and the spin make it good for keeping yourself safe. I find the special good for things like doom or lightning, but for Hades aspect you'd rather have a % on there (no matter for Achilles).

Hammers... If you can get two Spin hammers you can have a real good time, especially with Hades aspect. Something that beefs up your special is also really good for Hades aspect, like the exploding area special, or the charged shot.

For Achilles, nothing in particular stands out as super great synergy, but the spin buffs are still good, and the range buff helps if you're jumping around a lot so you can attack from farther/safer range.

That said, spear isn't really my specialty. Anyone else like using it more? (Or, anyone feel like Guan Yu aspect is Good, Actually and cares to sing its praises?)
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
I have no respect for the spear and just use Zagreus for the extra special damage.
 
Managed my first escape after 14 runs. Funnily enough, I bashed my head against the Heroes like eight times but then bested Hades on my first try. Though I guess if you have a build that trivializes the former, you know you’re set for the latter.

The boss design in this game is stellar. I love how most of their moves are just amped up versions of stuff regular enemies do, so I never feel like the game is taking a cheap shot.

I don’t know how much I’ll keep playing. The story hasn’t grabbed me at all so I don’t feel too motivated to keep grinding and see what happens. It’s a great game and another win for Supergiant, but I’m scratching my head as to how it ended up being GOTY for a lot of folks. I guess i don’t have the itch that this game scratches.

I think it's because you managed an escape in 14 runs. I'm on 35 and haven't made it and the story is much more robust. You have to die, a lot, to see everything.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
My favorite spear aspect is Achilles; I really like the mobility it adds to the kit. It also boosts attack and cast damage by a good bit, so it leaves a bit more open to different boon combos I guess? But the dash is extremely good for dodging and moving to safety, especially by throwing it at enemies and then rushing through to the safety of behind them when they charge you.

The Hades aspect debuff is nice and long, and the extra spin range is good. I personally find it a bit less consistent overall, esp with the spear's special being a less impressive damage source for me.

I used Guan Yu once. I've never wanted to again.

+% attack boons seem to work better for the spear because both Achilles and Hades give you +attack% (Hades also gives %special, so same applies). Aphrodite and Demeter, of course. Poseidon is good; the range and the spin make it good for keeping yourself safe. I find the special good for things like doom or lightning, but for Hades aspect you'd rather have a % on there (no matter for Achilles).

Hammers... If you can get two Spin hammers you can have a real good time, especially with Hades aspect. Something that beefs up your special is also really good for Hades aspect, like the exploding area special, or the charged shot.

For Achilles, nothing in particular stands out as super great synergy, but the spin buffs are still good, and the range buff helps if you're jumping around a lot so you can attack from farther/safer range.

That said, spear isn't really my specialty. Anyone else like using it more? (Or, anyone feel like Guan Yu aspect is Good, Actually and cares to sing its praises?)

Thanks Paul. I know that a lot of people seem to like the Achilles aspect, and to be fair I only tried it once. It just didn't really fit how my playstyle seems to have shaped up -- I've never had a problem using the regular dash to get out of harm's way, so figuring out how to use the special to do that instead was a little confusing for me, especially since it meant I couldn't attack while that was happening. I guess I'll have to give it another shot. Do you need to level it up for the bonus damage to become more meaningful?

I guess I have two main issues with the spear. One, it seems like none of the aspects really change its fundamental playstyle in the way that the other weapons' aspects do. Like, the Zeus shield or Chiron bow feel drastically different than their base versions and encourage you to play with different builds, but the spear just kinda always feels like the spear to me. And two, maybe because of that reason, it feels harder to come up with a broken build for it -- having just the one playstyle doesn't encourage me to experiment as much.

In any case, I haven't picked up the spear in a couple of days, but my current idea is to go Poseidon/Zeus to keep enemies at bay while (hopefully) getting in for a bunch of damage. Not exactly groundbreaking, but it works.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
Thanks Paul. I know that a lot of people seem to like the Achilles aspect, and to be fair I only tried it once. It just didn't really fit how my playstyle seems to have shaped up -- I've never had a problem using the regular dash to get out of harm's way, so figuring out how to use the special to do that instead was a little confusing for me, especially since it meant I couldn't attack while that was happening. I guess I'll have to give it another shot. Do you need to level it up for the bonus damage to become more meaningful?
I usually end up going heavy on a cast build when I run Achilles aspect, because its buff gives cast%, which you can't get outside of Chaos boons and Well of Charon items. So pick a cast that's strong and fast and just bounce around the field shooting everything to death! It's pretty great.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
I am almost totally burnt out on this game after nearly 80 hours over the past two months or so. I can’t put it away, however, until I complete Dusa’s questline. It doesn’t seem to be progressing, though. I’m supposed to order something from the Contracter, but there’s no new commissions. I can’t leave her floating like this.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I usually end up going heavy on a cast build when I run Achilles aspect, because its buff gives cast%, which you can't get outside of Chaos boons and Well of Charon items. So pick a cast that's strong and fast and just bounce around the field shooting everything to death! It's pretty great.
I'll have to try that next time, then! I'm currently on a Poseidon sword aspect casting build in my current run (trying to spec mainly into Artemis), but I can see the appeal of doing it with the Achilles spear.

I’m supposed to order something from the Contracter, but there’s no new commissions.
I think you're supposed to buy something like twelve different upgrades for the Lounge, and also repair all the Cerberus damage. Not sure if the Cerberus repairs count towards the twelve. After that it should just be down to luck/time when the conversation to progress her story continues.
 

Mr Bean

Chief Detective
I did it! My first clear! 24 attempts - the winning combo was the spear with mostly Artemis and Zeus boons. Lots of crit on my primary attack and lightning stuff on my special throw with the upgrade that makes it bounce 7 times to clear small fries.

It came right down to the wire too. Had to use both my death defiance plus Skelly’s tooth to make it through. I did wuss out and just chuck spears for the second half of the fight from behind the safety of a pillar but it worked so I don’t care.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
I can only do a run or two every few hours, the kind of attention the game demands (from me, at least) is pretty draining in the thick of things. That said, now that I know what the various enemies are and what they do it's getting pretty easy to dodge things without relying on invuln calls and Divine Dash.

Fuck the satyr gauntlet though, that's just annoying and designed to piss off close-range builds.
 

narcodis

the titular game boy
(he/him)
I got Bossdad down to a sliver of health on his last phase, so much so that when he killed ME, I thought I had won the fight for a second. I swear to god I cannot make the sword work for shit.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I got Bossdad down to a sliver of health on his last phase, so much so that when he killed ME, I thought I had won the fight for a second. I swear to god I cannot make the sword work for shit.
It's not you, the default sword is the worst weapon.
 

Paul le Fou

AAAAAAAA
(He)
I got Bossdad down to a sliver of health on his last phase, so much so that when he killed ME, I thought I had won the fight for a second. I swear to god I cannot make the sword work for shit.
One time I DID kill him, but my Athena invulnerability bugged out and I died to a laser, as he was dying, but I died faster even though he was saying his death line. And there was a weird screen glitch with a smaller frame of blackness. Then when I got back to the House something was bugged and I couldn't use any controls at all.

So what I'm saying is, it could have been worse, I guess...?
 
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