Sometimes the new hotness is tough to resist. And there's been a lot of talk about Hades lately. The review scores are through the roof. And truth be told, I tend to like myself a solid roguelike. I've lost so many hours to games like Spelunky and Downwell and Dead Cells and so on. And given the sort of spooky nature of Hades, I figured October was an ideal time to give it a go.
The best way I can sum up Hades is if Diablo and Dead Cells had a baby. It's an isometric game with tiny little enemies and dungeons - much like Diablo. But it's very action oriented and has the same sort of procedural generation and weapon unlocks and perks that you'd find in Dead Cells. In summation, it's good stuff.
Now, it hasn't QUITE sucked me in the way that either of those games did. But it is definitely a solid game, and has that sort of "one more run" thing going for it. That's for sure. It's also a lot more story focused than the majority of roguelikes I've played are. Like there's legit dialogue and all, and the NPC's remember your decisions from run to run. And that's the brilliant part. See, you're trying to escape Hades, so each time you die, you go back to the beginning. The loop actually makes sense. Each death is actually part of the story. Kind of brilliant.
I've only played an hour or two so far, but I can see myself sticking with this for a while.
The more I play Hades, the better it gets. I've unlocked more weapons and perks; I've gotten a feel for some of the weapon selection and which in-run perks to use to suit my playstyle; I've gotten more comfortable with certain enemy patterns. Perhaps most importantly, I'm always feeling a sense of progress. I've now made it to the second floor more than once, only to lose a battle (just barely!) against the Hydra.
It actually reminds me that I haven't played many 2020 games this year. It's kind of odd, because I generally keep up on a lot of new releases that interest me, but this year has been a weird year, of course. A combination of the pandemic and FOMO lead me to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which I enjoyed for about a week and haven't really thought of since. But I don't know. I've been delving into a lot of older and cheaper games, I guess. Plus having a young one in the house has made it harder to keep track of all the new cool stuff coming out. So I guess what I'm saying is that by default Hades is looking to be one of the best games I've played this year, for whatever that's worth.
I'm definitely hooked. There's some good things this game does. For instance the dark weapon thing... when you choose which weapon you want to use for a run, one is glowing dark. This means that THIS weapon will give you extra drops for using it this run. So always pick this one. Right? The thing that's great about this is that instead of choosing one weapon to master and then getting stuck in a rut, I'm experimenting way more. I hated the shield on my first attempt with it, but now I love using it with the right power-ups.
I had an awesome run last night where not only did I make it to Elysium for the first time, I made it all the way to the Theseus boss battle! Woah. I'm making solid progress on this one and having a really good time.
We will all remember 2020. Sure, it's kind of an insane blur. But it was an unforgettable year either way. And of course, all the content we consumed will be wrapped up in that. We gamers will no doubt attach certain games to that year - we'll call them "the games that got us through it." That sort of thing.
For me, much of 2020 was spent digging through my backlog and checking out cheapo indie games on the eShop. The real big games for me last year weren't games that came out last year. For one thing, I think that subconsciously I gravitated toward multiplayer games because it felt like I was getting some kind of human interaction. So the games that really got me through were things like Splatoon 2, Smash Ultimate, and somewhat embarrassingly, Fortnite.
But when I actually try to think about THE GAMES OF 2020, really only two seem to come to my immediate mind...
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
These two games couldn't be any more different.
Animal Crossing was all the rage of course. It did huge sales numbers, and pushed hardware sales until Switches were hard to come by. It was a vacation from our anxieties. It was quiet, relaxing, a true escape. I know people who picked it up at launch and are still playing it nightly almost a year later. For me personally, I soaked it in hard for a week or two at launch, and then moved on.
Hades was a hardcore roguelike ARPG dungeon crawler mash-up thing. I played the heck out of this one in the Fall, and was super into it. So it was the game I thought of more fondly between the two. But here's what's weird - revisiting it now, I don't know. It almost feels tainted to me. It brings back memories of uncertainty. About distancing from family and friends.
Maybe it's because of the theme of Hades. It feels like it's an insurmountable object - trying to escape Hades. It's challenging. It's punishing. And it's like Groundhog Day. Not for nothing, but Sisyphus is even in the game. I mean.
Going back to Hades just feels like I'm revisiting all that anxiety, and it doesn't feel good. Unfortunately, it was a game that I really enjoyed in 2020. One that helped "get me through." But, I think it'll have to stay there in 2020.
I have plans to go back and re-evaluate Animal Crossing again this Summer, so we'll see how that one fares.