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The joy of unending death in Hades

If at first you don't succeed...

I’ve always been terrible at games. Truly. Trying to join in with any online multiplayer game has been met with quotes such as, "What on earth are you doing?" and, "Wow, 84 deaths? Really?", to name but a few. This led to scenarios where it felt far easier for me to give up and try something new. But when the point of the game is to continue dying over and over again to up my knowledge, skill level, abilities and unlock new weapons and perks? There I have found a place for my unending death and incompetence in Supergiant's Hades.

As with any roguelike, death is the aim. Until fairly recently, however, instead of finding the positives in death in roguelikes, I still saw it as failure - even despite the intentions of the genre. Call me old-fashioned, but slinging myself at something in the exact same manner as previous attempts, yet expecting to find a different outcome, seemed to be the definition of idiocy to me.

Cover image for YouTube videoHades - v1.0 Gameplay Showcase

Enter Hades, seemingly taking the games industry by complete surprise and by storm, winning multiple Game Of The Year and Critic’s Choice awards upon its release even though it launched into early access. This perhaps shouldn’t have been such a surprise, given that Supergiant are the studio behind 2011’s Bastion which, again, crept up from a relatively unknown independent dev studio and ended up being distributed by Warner Bros. Yeah, that Bastion.

There’s just something so immersive about Hades, and every component of it is so lovingly crafted. From the incredible soundtrack by Darren Korb, through to the compelling narrative accompanied by in excess of a staggering 21,000 voice lines, something about unending death seems so much more bearable when you’re up to your neck in utter magnificence from every angle. It does also help that they’ve stuck to the traditional ‘heroic nudity’ of Greek mythology, ensuring every character is hot. I mean, Meg? Hello.

What I found more striking personally, though, was this revelation that death and failure would bring me greater success in future attempts. It never clicked with me before! Taking Zagreus to the mirror to level up various abilities was genuinely exciting, and bringing titan blood to my weapons to unlock new aspects brought brand new buffs for me to dive back in and experiment with. On my first day playing Hades I spent a solid eight hours saying, "Just one more…", such was the addictive nature of the way in which Supergiant have priced these upgrades. They’re attainable, and every run feels like a massive step towards that shiny new reward you’ve got your eye on.

Perhaps even more importantly than me spending eight hours in a game almost everybody has spent at minimum eight hours in at this point, though, is that the reframing in my own attitude towards failure and steep challenge. It led to a readjustment of my professional life, too. So what if some of my articles didn’t do so well? I can learn, readjust, and approach the next differently; exactly as I would on every return to the House Of Hades. As someone who finds themselves increasingly frustrated at not being able to achieve desired results on the first go around, Hades has been invaluable in helping me to adjust my own mindset and find the positives in death, and in failure.

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About the Author

Cheri Faulkner