One of the best games of all time is included with Netflix on iOS, and just in time for its sequel

By admin May8,2024

If fighting through the same dungeons over-and-over, inching through the stygian halls of Tartarus, magma-singed islands of Ashphodel and raging battlegrounds of Elysium in a quest for freedom sounds like something of a Sisyphean task: it is.

Hades tells the story of Prince Zagreus, son of the titular God of the Underworld, as he tries to escape Hell in a bid to reunite with the Greek pantheon on Mount Olympus. It’s a “roguelike” RPG, where you replay variations of the same levels and start again when you die, gathering resources to purchase permanent upgrades which help you to take each run further and further, and now, via Netflix Games, it’s also available on iOS and included with your Netflix subscription.

But Hades isn’t your typical roguelike. It stymies over-repetition by drizzling a new layer of story over everything you do. As Zagreus makes a break towards the surface, the Olympic Gods don’t just offer him boons in the form of power-ups, but encouragement and insight into their characters, revealing new story threads and lore via their voice lines. Then, when things almost inevitably come crashing down, you also get to wander the House of Hades and rub shoulders with the Chthonic Gods and fallen heroes of the Underworld.

Ironically, the best part of Hades is how it makes Greek Gods human. The voice acting and writing are exceptional and this characterfulness bleeds into every aspect of Hades, from the dazzling art direction and design to the peerless soundtrack which blends traditional instruments and the stories of Greek myths themselves to create an engrossing mood and grounded atmosphere.

Yes, all the gods are this hot.

Take Orpheus, the court bard, as an example. His signature song, Lament of Orpheus, recounts the aftermath of the Death of Euridycie from his perspective, with the mournful refrain of “don’t look back” – in reference to the climax of the story – betraying the anguish his greatest failure still causes him and, however much he tries to move forward, how he’s still stuck fixating on the past behind him.

When you finally meet Euridycie, trapped in the Underworld as she is, her song, Good Riddance, serves as a beautiful rebuttal to Orpheus – contrasting “her anchor [that] weighs upon me” with “no burdens, no further debts to be paid”.

The side-story of Orpheus and Euridycie is just one of the highlights of Hades, and how it slowly pieces together, in the periphery of the intense action of the moment-to-moment gameplay, is a masterful illustration of how to keep players invested in what could otherwise turn into a repetitive loop. Hades proves that roguelike games don’t have to be gameplay first, and is more successful even than other great games that attempted something similar (Housemarque’s also excellent Returnal comes to mind).

He’s the big bad. Can you tell?

But that’s not to say Hades ignores gameplay at all. Crafting a build of varied, well-balanced Boons from the whole cast of Olympians (which, again, you’re tempted to experiment with thanks to the promise of new story), is a deceptively tactical exercise as you weigh up the trade-off of choosing between raising the power level of your current run or stashing resources to raise your baseline for the future.

Is an iOS virtual joystick the best place to play a 3rd-person action game, full of high stakes, fast decisions and small movements? Unfortunately, no – even if performance has been solid as a gorgon’s stare on my iPhone 14 Plus (and it’s just one of the great games on offer, too). I’m willing to admit fault in my boomer souvlaki thumb, but things are just easier on a controller. There’s a “God Mode” option which says it reduces incoming damage if you’re feeling frustrated, which is welcome when it feels like a lot of mistakes come from getting stuck on scenery, but it’s not necessary and I haven’t used it.

That aside, the iOS version of Hades that’s included with a Netflix subscription serves as a great, low-stakes onboarding if you’re yet to submit to its siren song. But crucially, it’s also the perfect second-screen refresher to sharpen up your recollection as Hades 2 spins into early access, galloping all the way to the summit of Steam’s top sellers with the sun trailing behind its golden chariot.

Hades 2 key art showing Melinoe performing some kind of witchcraft in front of Hecate.
This is all getting you ready for Hades 2. | Image credit: Supergiant Games

It’s tempting to dive straight into the sequel, which already looks great, but it’s also important to remember that it’s still ultimately unfinished, and that the first Hades took time to grow into the all-timer it eventually became.

So, if you’re intrigued by the Hades hype and have access to Netflix on your iPhone, this is the perfect port to bridge that gap. It’s easily the best game on Netflix, even if there is some stiff competition from the likes of Kentucky Route Zero, Immortality, Poinpy and, of course, the greatest game of all time: Bloons Tower Defense 6.

By admin

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