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How to dominate the underworld in Hades

Indie darling Supergiant’s latest game Hades is finally out as a full release following two years of early access. The game is a roguelike that follows Hades’ son Zagreus on his mission to escape the underworld in search of his mother Persephone in the mortal realm. Commanding the prince of hell with different weapons and powers, you will slay demons as you push through several unique realms of Hades’ domain. If you should die, it’s back to square one, only this time with a slightly more powerful Zagreus.

With over 1,000,000 copies sold, and some online claiming it to be game of the year, it seems that Hades is more popular than ever. If you’re one of the many people finally checking it out, here are some tips to dominate the underworld.

Always be moving

If there’s one piece of advice to employ while playing Hades, it’s dash, dash, dash. Zagreus, no matter which weapon he wields, will always have four core moves. A basic attack, a special attack, a ranged magic attack, and a dash. Each chamber will be filled with a variety of creatures that attack in different ways, and standing still will most likely result in death. An added bonus of dashing is that you are invulnerable while doing it, so as long as you’re spamming that button, your chances of death dramatically decrease. Just make sure not to end on a trap. If you do, that’s right, dash.

Hades dash
The dash can also be modified to double as an attack Image used with permission by copyright holder

Don’t be frugal

When a chamber ends, you are given a reward. This may be an increase in your max health, a temporary power-up gifted by the gods, or an item that you can spend to permanently buff Zagreus even after death. After completing a chamber, more often than not, you are then able to choose between a handful of subsequent rooms based on their reward. If the door to a chamber is marked by a coin purse with a golden skull, it’ll take you to the River Styx boatman Charon, the in-game vendor. If you have the obals (gold) for it, buy everything he has to offer, unless you have no need for it, like health when you’re already maxed out.

This mindset can be used throughout the game. Upon death and your return to the House of Hades, you will have acquired gemstones, keys, and darkness, each of which can be spent on a variety of things. Don’t hesitate to use them as often as possible and deplete your collection of them. Hades is a game won by a thousand replays, and slowly building out Zagreus is the way to go, versus hoarding your resources and spending them in sporadic but large increments.

Charon is one of the less chatty characters in the game Image used with permission by copyright holder

Look for the Cursed Slash boon

One of the options for rewards is the Daedalus Hammer, which grants an improvement, known in the game as a boon, to the specific weapon you are wielding on that run. If your weapon of choice is the default Stygian Blade, one of the three options with the Daedalus Hammer will be the Cursed Slash. This will cut your max life by 60%, but you will be gifted two health points for every hit, and with how fast a slash of the Stygian Blade is, you will quickly rack up health.

Comparatively, the only other ways to heal in the game are infrequent, with a rare drop from an enemy or Charon supplying it in his store providing desperately needed relief. While the game is still challenging with this boon equipped, it certainly takes a bit of the stress out of playing. Yes, your max life is cut by 60%, but that pales in comparison to the gains of 2 health points per hit. Plus, you are still able to acquire max life increases after the reduction, so you can quickly alleviate the negative side effect.

Some might call it overpowered, others will call it a godsend. We were able to make it through two and a half realms with this boon without perishing, which is quite the feat. If you want to make life easier for yourself, but don’t want to go as far as turning the permanent God Mode buff on, the Cursed Slash is an excellent choice.

Stygian Blade
The Cursed Slash is only offered when wielding the Stygian Blade Supergiant Games

Talk to everyone

Hades is an impressive game on many levels. Its artistic design and soundtrack are masterfully crafted, its combat is incredibly satisfying, and the voice performances from top to bottom are a delight. Every new run, there will be slight changes in the world thanks to your actions, and you can be sure that the other characters in the world will have something to say about them. Make sure to always talk with every character you can as often as you can, as not only does part of the game’s charm stem from these interactions, you will have the option to offer them nectar you have acquired in your journey. Each character gifted with Nectar will add a new relic to your collection, yet another modifier that you can equip before embarking on a new run.

Progressing further into the game unlocks new side characters. Chatting with and offering them nectar improves your relationships with them, and some light dating sim elements get sprinkled into the mix. Talking with these characters is as integral to the game as its combat.

Hades will taunt Zagreus every time he dies Hades

Open every Chaos portal

During a run in Hades, you might come across a Chaos portal, which will take you to the realm of the sculptor of the universe Chaos themselves. There’s a couple of catches though. Opening one of the portals will cost some health, although not a permanent max life cut like the Cursed Slash. In addition, Chaos will offer one of three boons like every other deity, but these will come with a temporary hindrance that, once seen through, will grant you a buff for the rest of that run. Nine times out of 10, the reward will always be worth the negative side effect. Unless you are dangerously low on health before jumping through the portal, it’s recommended that you go through it.

Chaos Portals
Chaos exists between the underworld and the mortal realm Image used with permission by copyright holder

Like any good list of tips, these are more guidelines than strict rules, and you might find some exceptions to them, or perhaps different ones that are better suited to your playstyle. That said, these fundamentals are a great place to start before defying your father Hades and making your way through hell.

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Tom Caswell
Professional video producer and writer, gaming enthusiast, and streamer!
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