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Video Game / Hades

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Where do you think you are? Who do you think you're talking to? Nobody gets out of my domain - whether alive or dead. You wish to learn the hard way? Fine, then go. Get out. Don't let me stop you.

Hades is an isometric Roguelike Action RPG developed by Supergiant Games. Based on Greek Classical Mythology, the game follows Zagreus, Prince of the Underworld and son of Hades himself, in his attempts to leave the underworld, or die trying. And he will die, again and again and... you get the point.

Development of the game began less than a month after the release of Supergiant's previous title, Pyre, and received a surprise Early Access release - a first for the company - after being revealed at 2018's Game Awards on December 6. The game was exclusive to the Epic Games Store for a year, with a Steam Early Access release on December 10, 2019. The game has been said to 'eventually' be available on a variety of platforms afterwards.

The Early Access trailer can be viewed here.


In the name of Hades, I accept these tropes:

  • 1-Up: Death Defiance, which gives Zagreus the ability to ignore a mortal wound and recover 50% of his health when he would otherwise die. You can unlock up to three of them in the Mirror, or alternatively a single one that regenerates between rooms. Certain boons and items can restore spent uses or grant additional ones.
  • Achievement System: The Fates' prophecies can be bought at the contractor and put in Zagreus' room. It poses various challenges to the player that, once completed, can be turned in for rewards like gems, diamonds, titan blood, and so forth. Prophecies include getting all the available boons from a god, all possible upgrades for a weapon, and so forth.
  • Action Bomb: Flame Wheels, encountered in Elysium, are small chariots that chase after you and explode if they get close enough. They can be detonated prematurely by damaging them enough, or by tricking them into running into a wall. The former, however, can still hurt you if you're in the blast radius.
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  • Action Girl: The Furies. They can, and will kick your ass further back down the Underworld.
  • Action Prologue: The game starts with Zagreus's first escape attempt, waiting for the player to inevitably get themselves killed before providing the context and introducing the characters at the House of Hades.
  • Afterlife Antechamber: Erebus's primary function, though Hades has repurposed some of it for challenge battles to throw at Zagreus.
  • Afterlife Express: Charon's boat. Zagreus tries to bribe him with 1,000 obols to skip all the painful dying and just sail up to the surface, to no avail.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • All three Fury sisters have light blue skin, as does their half-brother Hypnos (though oddly enough Thanatos, their other brother, does not).
    • The Shades in Elysium have dark skin and glowing blue-white hair.
  • Antagonist Title: While Hades's antagonism mainly amounts to bickering with Zagreus, the forces of the underworld are technically under his control. This trope becomes more prominent when Hades decides to take matters into his own hands and faces Zagreus as the Final Boss.
  • Anti-Armor: Several of Daedalus' Hammer upgrades grants Zagreus' armoury additional bonus damage to the yellow health bar of Elite Mooks and Mini Bosses. This doesn't work against the main bosses, who are just really tough.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If you switch one of your boons for another of the same type (basic attack, special, dash, cast) after having already leveled it up, the replacement boon will be of the same level and have a rarity one rank higher.
    • While the location of Daedelus hammers is random, you're always guaranteed two (no more, no less) in every run. If you avoid a room that would have had one or can't afford one in a shop, another will show up later. The only way to not get two is to intentionally miss them multiple times.
  • Arc Words: "There is no Escape". You will see this message every time Zagreus dies, and several characters (in particular Hades) uses it as well. Including if you beat him.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Elysium has shield-bearing enemies that will block attacks from a certain direction, but attacks that pass through enemies ignore these shields.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Zagreus's approach to the List of Minor Prophesies (i.e. subquests). It helps that he's basically getting bribed to fullfill them.
    Not even the Fates are above greasing the wheels of progress, then?
  • Beehive Barrier: Eurydice's acorn gives Zagreus one of these whenever he enters a boss arena.
  • BFS: The Aspect of Arthur, the final aspect of the Sword of Chaos, is a longsword that has enormous wind-up time and a slow attack pattern, but deals huge damage and has a range close to that of the Spear. The Aspect's Special leaves a zone that slows enemies and projectiles, and reduces incoming damage, both effects being linchpins to using it without leaving yourself open during wind-up.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: To be expected with a game based around one of the oldest examples of the trope, the Greek pantheon. Much of the game's tongue-in-cheek humour comes from the fact that - barring the supernatural powers and dominion over realms of existence - the gods act much like you'd expect a dysfunctional family to.
    • Hades kept his son's very existence hidden from the rest of his family and isolated himself and the other Chthonic gods from them, and often speaks ill of the Olympians, considering them to hate him and the others in the underworld, thinking lesser of them. The Olympians themselves seem rather nice, but still have problems with Hades.
    • Meg says that the Fury Sisters don't actually interact much with each other, since they're each doing their own thing and have given up on trying to find understanding and common ground between themselves. When Zagreus points this out, she calls him out on the fact that his family is possibly the most messed up ever, including the fact his father and uncles chopped up their grandparents and threw them into the underworld.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: While charging up a Bull Rush with the shield, you can defend against any attack facing you.
  • Blood Knight: The shades of the Elysian Fields (except Patroclus and Theseus) oppose Zagreus due to wanting a glorious battle, and not because they're forced to like the shades of Tartarus and the Asphodel Plains.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Old Spiked Collar, Cerberus' keepsake. It boosts Zagreus' Hit Points, and given how universally useful Hit Points are and the complete lack of a luck-based mechanic to it, it's always universally useful. If one of the more Magikarp Power-based keepsakes do not work out due to bad luck, or ceases to be relevant on the final floor, switching to the Collar is almost never a bad idea.
    • The Lucky Tooth, Skelly's keepsake, gives Zagreus an additional (but weaker) use of Death Defiance. Like the Collar, it's almost universally useful.
  • Bowdlerise: It's Greek mythology, so incest between the gods was pretty par for the course, but that doesn't necessarily mean audiences want to play that out.
    • While Zagreus isn't actually the sibling of Megaera or Thanatos, he was still raised as such since Nyx pretended to be his mother. Steps have been taken to minimize how familial his relationship with his love interests was; one line from Hades implies that Zagreus only first met Megaera in the same instance he tried to throw them into a relationship; another one was changed to axe a mention of Hypnos and Thanatos being his siblings and instead refers to them as Nyx's sons, without referring to her as his mother.
    • Later patches added a conversation between Zagreus and Nyx that states that Megaera (and by extension her sisters) were adopted by Nyx and not her children by blood.
    • Demeter is made the cousin of Hades, Poseidon and Zeus instead of their sister and Persephone isn't Zeus' daughter, meaning Hades didn't marry his niece.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Zagreus constantly snarks that he can hear the Narrator's voice while the latter's doing his shtick. It's Played for Laughs, even when he accidentally spills the beans that Persephone is Zagreus' real mother in a flashback sequence, and not Nyx as he was led to believe.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: The Soul Butterflies of Elysium, waves of butterflies that slowly drain Zagreus' health on contact. Thanatos also gives Zagreus the Pierced Butterfly, a butterfly-shaped trinket, if given a bottle of Nectar.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Running the afterlife apparently entails a huge load of paperwork, and the challenge conditions of the Pact of Punishment are additional applications of red tape such as deadlines, convenience fees, benefits packages for enemies, and so forth.
  • Challenge Run: The Pact of Punishment, unlocked after successfully escaping from the underworld for the first time, lets you add extra modifiers to your run in exchange for more rare boss materials, among other things.
  • The Coats Are Off: Hades throws off his cloak before commencing his fight with Zagreus.
  • Color-Coded Item Tiers: Boons are colored according to rarity; white is Common, blue is Rare, purple is Epic, red is Heroic, and orange is Legendary.
  • Combat Commentator: If Zagreus wields the shield using the Aspect of Chaos, Chaos will begin speaking to Zagreus through the shield. They will on occasion chime in during combat and note their approval if you're doing well.
  • Combination Attack: Duo Boons, boons given by certain gods if you already have one of their boons as well as one from a specific other god. They usually combine the gods' unique elements (like combining Aphrodite's Weakness with Dionysus' Poison), but some have more esoteric effects based on the gods' personalities or historical relationships.
  • Comeback Mechanic: Unlocking Death Defiance at the mirror will let Zagreus come back to life after dying. Athena has several Boons based around buffing Zagreus' Death Defiance as well as restoring spent uses of it.
  • Consolation Prize: If you clear a room in Erebus without taking damage you get an extra-powerful item. If you take damage you get a red onion instead, which does nothing except restore 1 HP.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Zagreus suffers no ill-effects from being in Asphodel - aside from everything being out for his blood - despite the entire place being a Lethal Lava Land. He'll only take damage if he actually touches the lava. Zagreus will even point out that he's flame-resistant, not flame-proof. Justified in that he's a demigod native to the Underworld.
  • Critical Status Buff:
    • The Skull Earring, Megaera's keepsake, drastically buffs Zagreus' damage when on low health. Combined with the right Boons from Dionysus and it can make for a linchpin of a high risk, high reward-based playstyle.
    • Dionysus also has several Boons that grant healing under certain conditions or damage resistance when at low HP. They synergise nicely with the Skull Earring.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Combined with Anachronism Stew. The majority of the weapon aspects you unlock are based on Greek gods. The final aspect of each weapon is not. They are aspects from famous figures from other cultures from different parts of the world and even different times. The spear for instance comes from the famous Chinese warrior Guan Yu, while the sword aspect comes from the legend of King Arthur.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Hades is a borderline case. He's a relentless Deadpan Snarker who constantly mocks his own son and his attempts to escape, but takes his duties as God of the Dead seriously and is mostly reasonable and fair in his judgement of the shades that come before him.
    • Zagreus himself is a straighter example, being a likable if sarcastic guy who readily befriends everyone in the Underworld.
    • This also applies to Nyx, the physical personification of night, who is shown to be a caring mother and whose actions in game are purely benevolent.
    • Chaos, the primordial Anthropomorphic Personification of, well, Chaos, is also quite sympathetic towards Zagreus, even as they are fully aware of his motivation to escape the Underworld and only aids him just to see what comes of it.* Death Is Cheap: Dying normally sends people to the Underworld, but the whole game is set in the Underworld so "death" has little consequence. Zagreus and the game's bosses both make casual comments about killing each other.
  • Dem Bones: The aptly-named Skelly appears out of nowhere and offers his services as Zagreus's training dummy; he claims to be on Hades' payroll, but Zagreus is doubtful. He's rather more silly than his enemy counterparts, the also-aptly-named Bloodless found in Asphodel.
  • The Determinator:
    • Zagreus will die repeatedly in his quest to make it out of the Underworld, but being constantly tossed right back to the House of Hades just annoys him and gives him a chance to talk with his friends and family.
    • Similarly, all the bosses Zagreus defeats during a run will be back for the next run, resurrected by Hades and ready for another go. All of them (except the Hydra) are sentient enough to comment upon it as well, with Asterius in particular relishing the chance to challenge Zagreus again.
  • Degraded Boss: The Mini-Boss encounter in Tartarus consists of a pair of elite enemies that become a regular enemy in Asphodel.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • When defeated, Megaera will spend her downtime in the lounge, an area which isn't open at the start of the game. Should you defeat her before the lounge is actually re-opened, she'll instead be stood somewhere else so as not to lock you out of interacting with her.
    • Much like in Supergiant's past games, there is a metric ton of incidental dialog. For example, Hermes will acknowledge if you have the speedrun timer enabled.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Invoked during the game's early access days: When reaching the end of current content, the author says that he can't actually talk about that yet, and announces that Zagreus died again for whatever reason. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Chaos' Boons offer stat modifiers that are higher than anything you could get through a single normal boon. To get them, however, you have to suffer through a curse for several encounters. The boons and curses are randomized each time, so the same boon can wind up behind a relatively benign curse like not seeing the next room's reward to something utterly debilitating like being damaged each time you use your basic attack. The door to the Realm of Chaos also shows up randomly, so you may have to risk fighting a boss with a curse active.
    • The Adamant Rail is the weakest starting weapon, with a lackluster standard attack and a somewhat unwieldy special. However, it synergizes very well with status effects due to its rapid rate of fire. If you can overcome the initial difficulty, it can grow into a deadly weapon that will chew through nearly anything.
    • The Stygian Blade has a Daedelus upgrade which applies a persistent 70% reduction to your total health, counting any future health upgrades. In return, you heal for two points with every hit. This means a few good hits by bosses can kill you, but if you're careful, you're basically immortal.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Poseidon's Duo Boons. Unlike all of the other gods' duos, Poseidon's duo boons are extremely easy to get as the requirements are bog standard for both gods involved and the odds on receiving them are much more forgiving than others. That's pretty fair, since all they do is boost Poms of Power (Aphrodite) and boost Boon Rarity (Dionysus). And yes, it is possible to get both. With these active, you can do things like pump out crazy damage or make yourself nigh-invulnerable, with far less effort and luck than would be required of a normal run.
  • Easily Forgiven: Certain rooms gives Zagreus the option to pick between one of two gods' favour. The one whose favour you reject will then get mad and send a wave of boon-boosted enemies after you, and then quickly forgive you afterwards and offer you a favour. Dionysus, in particular, will entirely have forgotten why he was mad at you in the first place.
  • Easter Egg: Looking at the game's files to try and uncover the rest of Zagreus's Codex entry has the text call the player out for trying to spoil the surprise, and also point out that not everything in the files may be accurate.
    Listen, Mortal. You are not supposed to be reading this. You are most bold, or most unwise, to have been digging through these arcane texts, or to have gleaned the knowledge from someone who has.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Generally speaking, the floors themselves shouldn't cause players that much grief overall. It's the bosses (and to a lesser extent mini-bosses) that will be what kill you most of the time, especially on lower heat levels.
  • Eldritch Location: The underworld's chambers and tunnels constantly rearrange themselves to deter would-be escapees, justifying the game's elements of randomization and giving some weight to Hades' warning. This was apparently the work of Daedalus, acting on Hades' orders.
  • Endless Winter: It is heavily implied that Demeter has caused this due to Persephone's disappearance.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: Or rather, Greek gods gave us firearms. It's heavily implied that, some time in the future, Exagryph will escape into the mortal world and inspire the invention of all gunpowder and explosive weapons to follow.
    Achilles' Codex: While other weapons of the gods inspired mortal counterparts, I am relieved to say the Rail's cruel design has not yet been discovered in a stroke of mortal inspiration, to conduct their wars. Let us pray for their sake that it never shall. [...] Someday, however, I imagine it shall break free from this place; for any weapon once possessed by Eris, Lady Strife herself, becomes possessed of an eternal hunger to destroy.
  • Equipment Upgrade:
    • Done with the hammer of Daedalus himself! The player is given a choice between three upgrades at a time, which can do things like strengthen certain attacks like Power Shots, give it more utility such as piercing attacks, or give a stat-boost to Zagreus. Certain upgrades even entirely change the functionality of your weapon, which comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.
    • There are also weapon aspects that can be unlocked with Titan Blood. Weapon aspects are alterations to the Infernal Arms that change one or more base aspects of the weapons for the entire run. An example of this is the Aspect of Achilles to the spear, which replaces its Summon to Hand mechanic to one where Zagreus teleports to where he threw it.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Downplayed. Overall, one of the softest interpretations of Hades' estrangement from the rest of the gods in Olympus, but Hades is still a bitter (and overworked, though just and fair otherwise) man. His brethren's Titan-slaying days are over, and with that his contact with them. Still, Hades isn't even close to downright evil, and meanwhile the other gods are happy to help their nephew (if only to spite their brother/uncle, in some cases).
  • Everyone Is Bi: After confirming a fan's question about Zagreus's sexuality (before the patch with option to romance Thanatos was implemented), lead designer Greg Kasavin also added that, this being ancient Greek mythology and all, banging anyone regardless of sex (or species) is pretty much the default in this universe.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: The Exagryph is considered such a dangerous weapon that the gods made sure to keep it out of the hands of mortals in fear of them harnessing its destructive force.
  • Fastball Special: For their "Bullhorn" attack, Asterius throws Theseus at the player.
  • Fixed Damage Attack: All weapon attacks and specials always deal a fixed amount of damage with no variance. This base damage can be increased or multiplied by the right Boons, gifts or debuffs, but it never varies between individual attacks.
  • Flaming Skulls: A repeated motif of the game, showing up as the representation of Heat (the currency of Challenge Runs, and an actual resource during Early Access), as sources of lighting, and as the form of Hades' Cast.
  • Flunky Boss: Most of the bosses of the game:
    • With the exception of Tisiphone, the furies will invoke mooks to help them in the fight against Zagreus.
    • The Bone Hydra will summon other heads to fight Zagreus. Even among them, the green head will summon Mooks to fight.
    • The Final Boss will summon dark, strong versions of the previous enemies you faced (what gets summoned is random, and can include certain minibosses if you're unlucky) each time they lose a third of their health.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Your attacks can harm neither your allies nor yourself. The sole exception is the Hazard Bomb upgrade for Exagryph, which fires a much bigger and stronger bomb directly where you're standing, which will hurt you if you don't get out of the way.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Certain characters will give you "Companion" keepsakes, plushies that will allow Zagreus to summon help during encounters. However, there'll be a number of scenarios that will not allow you to use it because it wouldn't make sense. Thanatos' Companion Mort will not summon him if he is already on the room, Meg's Companion Battie won't summon her during a fight against her or her sisters, and neither them nor Dusa's companion Fidi can be used against the Final Boss Hades, because none of them would actively work against him like that.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: After encountering Asterius, Poseidon can bring him up in conversation, referring to him as the result of a "long and sordid story" that was ultimately the latter's fault. People familiar with Greek myth can confirm it's pretty sordid indeed.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Exagryph, the Adamant Rail. While it isn't worthless as a weapon by any means, its bullets do the least damage out of all the Infernal Arms' main attacks.
  • Have a Nice Death: Hypnos keeps records of the various ways Zagreus will die in his futile quest to escape the underworld, and he'll often comment on the most recent death after Zag drags himself out of the River Styx.
  • Hell of a Heaven: The fact that Elysium is a Warrior Heaven and every shade in the place is out to kill Zagreus for bragging rights makes it a very unpleasant place for him despite its beauty. Patroclus is likewise miserable there, wishing he'd gone to the boring but tranquil Asphodel meadows (before they were turned into a Lethal Lava Land, of course) instead.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Zagreus will always start the first run with the Stygian Blade equipped and is presented wielding it in all promotional material. In-game he is given the choice of additional weapons to use after a few runs, however.
  • Home of the Gods: Following Greek tradition, gods either dwell in the Underworld (chthonic gods) or on Mount Olympus (Olympians). The Underworld further has a literal Home of the Gods in the House of Hades, a Big Fancy Castle that serves as both Zagreus's home and the game's Hub Level.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Compared to the previous Supergiant Games titles. There's a large amount of Mr. Fanservice and Ms. Fanservice characters, including Aphrodite being covered by nothing but her hair and a number of male characters that show off their physique like Zagreus and Dionysus. Furthermore, while sex and romance was usually either not mentioned or secondary in games like Bastion and Pyre (even in Transistor, the romance between Red and "Mr. Nobody" is extremely chaste), this game allows Zagreus to romance characters, Meg and Thanatos, specifically, and completing them ends with a scene that implies he had sex with them. This is justified by the ambience, as the Greek myths always were known for their openly sexual and explicit stories.
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: Many of the characters spend a whole lot of time repeatedly killing each other, knowing that it won't result in much more than an unpleasant bath in the River Styx. Zagreus also mentions to Achilles that he feels much less uncomfortable slaying the rats and Satyrs in the Temple of Styx than the shades in the Underworld, as they're the first mortal things he's ever killed.
  • Immune to Flinching: Armored enemies (glowing yellow with a second health bar) cannot be stunned and are more resistant to knockback than normal enemies. Once you've broken through the armor, they become normal enemies.
  • Interactive Narrator: Downplayed. Zagreus will occasionally make short responses to the narrator's descriptions.
    Zagreus: You know I can hear you, old man.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Frequently comes into play between Zagreus and Megaera, with Zagreus often flirting with Megaera in their pre-battle exchanges and even implying he actually quite likes getting mauled by her on the regular.
  • In the Hood: As the game is still in Early Access, several of the characters use placeholder art depicting them in hooded robes with hidden faces.
  • Isometric Projection: Much like Supergiant's previous games, Hades uses 3D models against hand-painted, tile-based backgrounds.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Orphism, as it turns out, was a prank on Zagreus and Dionysus's part that got a little out of hand.
    Hades: You fill Orpheus's mind with nonsense, he produces nonsense. Nonsense that, I presume, shall spread from this place far and wide so that everyone might know that I have nothing to do with you.
    Zagreus: I'm not worried. Orpheus plays for a very small audience... I hope.
  • Killer Rabbit: A rare encounter in the Temple of Styx can see Zagreus face-to-face with a seemingly normal Vermin that turns out to be this trope. It's every bit as fast and aggressive as its normal cousins, but has thousands of Hit Points and can and will bite Zagreus to death. An update even gave him the same health bar and death animation as the bosses.
    Zagreus: Uh... Oh, *chuckles* it's just a tiny vermin...
    *Vermin releases Battle Aura, roars like a lion*
    Zagreus: Oh, gods!
  • King Mook: There are "Dire" versions of several enemies as minibosses: Bloodless and Flingers, Gorgons and Stone Smashers, Soulcatchers, and come Styx, an extra possible four: the Dire Satyr, Vermin, Bother, and Snakestone. These are much tougher and stronger than their normal counterparts and come with very tough armor, too.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Tons regarding the game's state while it was in early access. Making it to the end of a run the second time has Hades, the final boss, question why Zagreus is even bothering to try and escape when they both know he's going to inexplicably die after their fight.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During early access, parts of the game that aren't finished are chalked up to "Ongoing Underworld Renovations".
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Asphodel Meadows, a handful of barren islands of rock surrounded by eternally bubbling and spitting lava. Convection isn't an issue for Zagreus, as he's flame-resistant (but not flame-proof, so stepping directly into the lava still hurts him).
  • Let's Wait a While: Zagreus suggests this when entering a relationship with Thanatos, wanting to prove that he's serious about this and not just acting on another knee-jerk impulse. Thanatos humors him for all of five minutes before he shows up in his bedroom and points out that neither of them actually want to wait.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Only in comparison to some of the darkest Greek myths, but overall this is one of the lightest interpretations of Olympus, even with the bickering and competition between the gods (which are more akin to family squabbles).
    • Whatever happened to Persephone, she's treated at least a peg better than her mythological counterpart. Here, she gets to leave Hades... seemingly forever, for so long that her son forgets who his mother is. At least she isn't presently being trapped between life and death to mimic the seasons like in myth.
  • Limit Break: Calls invoke powerful effects like raining lightning bolts or becoming invincible for a limited time. They can only be used when the God Gauge fills a certain amount, and if the gauge is completely filled, you can invoke a Greater Call, which increases the duration and/or intensity of the effect.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • While the first half of Tartarus is kept pretty strict based on the seed generated for you, pretty much everything after is randomized. This can mean it's entirely up to the Random Number God whether or not you succeed or fail, as everything from room rewards to shop contents to enemy types to what bonuses you get from hammers and boons is random.
    • Less generally, Legendary Boons and Duo boons. Even if you meet the requirements for them, you can fill your whole dashboard with boons from the same gods and still not get what you're after. Even with the Mirror of Night upgrade that makes both more likely, Legendary Boons tend to be evasive unless you pick up a lot of boons from one specific god.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: The various gods' keepsakes. Normally, which gods will help Zagreus is chosen randomly. By equipping one of their keepsakes, however, you are guaranteed to always be offered that god's Boon as your next one. This allows Zagreus a degree of control over his build, and to aim for specific Duo Boons.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Thanatos' keepsake, the Pierced Butterfly, grants Zagreus an initial 1.5% permanent boost to attack (with 2.5% should you reach the highest level) should he finish a chamber without taking damage. If you make it far enough without taking hits, the damage boost becomes significant, as it is a percentage modifier.
    • Hermes' keepsake, the Lambent Plume, works similarly by granting Zagreus a 1% boost to move speed and dodge chance (up to 1.2% at the highest level) should he finish a chamber in under 30 seconds. Getting far enough into the game can make this dodge chance really significant.
    • Poseidon's Duo Boons with Aphrodite and Dionysus do nothing on their own except permanently buffing future Poms of Power and Boons. If acquired early on they can drastically boost your overall power level for the run if you actively hunt down Pom and Boon rooms.
    • The Adamant Rail starts off pretty weak. The machinegun has the lowest damage of any attack in the game, and the grenade launcher can be unwieldy to use. However, it synergizes great with any debuffs that stack since the rail also has the fastest attack in the game, meaning you can hit full stacks nearly instantly. And with the right weapon upgrades, the grenade launcher can either become an RPG, able to shoot off multiple grenades in a row, or even both if you get lucky. And combined with Artemis's arrows and you get a constant stream of arrows fired off.
    • Aphrodite's Aid fires a projectile that Charms an enemy for a few seconds, which is nigh useless in most circumstances. If the God Gauge is completely filled, however, that projectile now deals 2500 damage, making it the most damaging single hit attack in the game.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Certain boons and keepsakes grant you temporary invincibility after being hit or using Death Defiance. Enemies can get this through the Damage Control condition, which allows them to ignore one hit for each rank.
  • Mini-Boss: The first three areas each feature mini-boss encounters that will reward you with a boon of higher than usual rarity. In the Temple of Styx two of the Satyr tunnels contain mini-bosses at the end: Any boons from those tunnels will be rare at worst, and any other bonuses (obol, poms or centaur hearts) will be twice as potent as normal.
  • Money Sink:
    • The upgrades for the Mirror of Night that directly affect Zagreus cost in the neighborhood of 10,000 Darkness to fully unlock and upgrade. The Fate points, which allow you to reroll room rewards or boons/Charon purchases, cost more than ten times that much to do the same, for a relatively minor benefit.
    • The House Contractor offers some extremely pricey cosmetic items for gemstones, more than a thousand for some items. Once you unlock the music stand, unlocking all the associated songs costs upwards of 50 diamonds.
  • Mook Maker: Tartatus Skullomats, which produce Numbskulls infinitely until dealt with.
  • Multishot: The bow's special sprays a cone of arrows in front of Zagreus; it can also be upgraded so that the normal attack fires either two or three shots at once.
  • Mutually Exclusive Powerups:
    • You can only have one boon that affects your attack, special, cast, dash, and call each. Getting another such boon will overwrite the old one. To compensate, any levels gained from pom drinks are retained, and the replacing boon will usually be of a higher rarity.
    • Certain Daedalus Hammer upgrades are incompatible. For example, you can't apply both the Twin Shot and Triple Shot upgrades to the Heart-Seeking Bow.
    • The Mirror of Night upgrades each have two aspects you can swap between, for example having three casts or a single, regenerating one. You can use either so long as you've paid for them, but not both at once.
  • Named Weapons: Each of the Infernal Arms Zagreus can wield have names and titles. The sword is Stygius, the Blade of the Underworld; the spear is Varatha, the Eternal Spear; the shield is Aegis, the Shield of Chaos; the bow is Coronacht, the Heart-Seeking Bow; the gun is Exagryph, the Adamant Rail; and the gauntlets are the Twin Fists of Malphon.
  • Necessary Drawback: Certain hammer upgrades provide extremely powerful effects with an equally debilitating downside. For example, Stygius has an upgrade which heals you for each strike, but your health is reduced by 70%, which applies not only to your current health but every health upgrade during that run.
  • No Ending: The Early Access released with nothing happening after you make it to the surface and beat the Final Boss, so instead the narrator makes up a flimsy excuse about how Zagreus somehow died (like saying he tripped on a rock or something) and he ends up back in the House of Hades again.
  • No Escape but Down: All of Zagreus's escapes begin with him jumping out a large window in the courtyard beyond his room.
  • No-Sell:
    • The Cosmic Egg makes Zagreus immune to the damage taken by entering the Realm of Chaos.
    • Eurydice's acorn gives Zagreus a barrier that absorbs the first few blows from any boss or mini-boss.
  • One Curse Limit: Notably averted. Any number of status effects can be applied at once and you're even encouraged to do so as the "Privileged Status" upgrade gives a 50% damage bonus against enemies with multiple statuses.
  • One-Hit Polykill: In addition to the bow having it by default, some hammer upgrades give attacks the ability to pass through multiple enemies.
  • Our Gods Are Different: They generally follow the Greek tradition, naturally, though some details are elaborated upon or added. The biggest difference is that there's a clearer distinction placed between chthonic (Underworld) gods and Olympians
  • Pet the Dog: Both figuratively and literally! You can give Ambrosia to Cerberus, the Hades' family's pet dog and guardian of the Underworld; the House's long-suffering maid, Dusa; long-suffering souls like Sisyphus; and even some of the bosses you defeat. With the "Big Bad" update Zagreus is also given the option to pet Cerberus. When he reaches the Temple of Styx and realizes that Cerberus is guarding the way out again, he flatly refuses to attack Cerberus and instead raids the Satyr squatters of the Temple for a treat to bribe Cerberus into letting him through.
  • Player Death Is Dramatic: Whenever Zagreus is killed, the game cuts all enemies and backgrounds out to a black void, as he dies and is dragged back into the underworld. Even when he has Death Defiance charges remaining, the game will slow down and all sound will go quiet while the Defiance restores him to life.
  • Power at a Price: Chaos' boons, unlike the other gods, require you to labour under a penalty for multiple rooms before the positive effects manifest.
  • Powerup Letdown: Certain boons pair poorly with certain weapons, which due to the randomized nature of the game can be problematic if you run into limited boon choices in a run. For example, slow-firing weapons like the bow benefit from boons that grant damage modifiers, whereas abilities like Zeus's lightning require high volume of fire to reach their full potential.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • Megaera the Fury is one of the bosses, but also Amicable Exes with Zagreus; problem is she's also a prison warden meant to prevent any escape, and so you'll have to fight her whenever you reach her chamber.
    • Asterius isn't a bad person by any means, and simply stands in Zagreus' way because he provides a good fight.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: The Blood Crystal is this for runs with the sword or the fists. It is the only way (outside of certain Aspects or Daedalus upgrades) for Zagreus to deal ranged damage while wielding those two weapons, and is generally an inferior option to weapon attacks for most weapons unless you pick Boons intended for a Cast-based playthrough.
  • Rat Stomp: An inversion-yes, you read that correctly. Rodents are among the very last enemies you fight in the game.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Red and Black are the colours of both Hades and Zagreus (beyond their pale skin). In Hades' case this underlines his antagonistic nature, while for Zagreus it's averted. Ares also uses red and black as his main colours, but beyond granting Zagreus some very blood- and violence-related Boons is a helpful figure to Zagreus.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Though he's less evil and more simply antagonistic, Hades's red eyes and black sclera give him an even more intimidating appearance. Zagreus's red right eye has a similar effect, though he's the hero of this particular story.
    • Ares, as the god of war, has red eyes. Much like the other gods though, he offers help to Zagreus.
    • The Fury Alecto's eyes are bright red, matching a bloodlust that would put Ares to shame.
  • Relationship Values: The various NPCs in the House of Hades, as well as the Olympian gods, can be given bottles of nectar as a gift. In return, they will each give Zagreus a "keepsake" that he can equip for special effects within Tartarus. Certain ones can be gifted ambrosia after giving them enough nectar and witnessing certain story events, which unlock companion units that provide limited but extremely useful assistance during runs.
  • Respawn Point: Every time Zagreus dies, he emerges from a pool of blood within the House of Hades, ready to jump right back into the action (and most likely die again).
  • Resurrective Immortality:
    • Every time Zagreus dies in his attempt to escape Hades, he simply crawls out of the river Styx back at the house. After all, he is in the Underworld, where else would he go when he dies? The same thing happens to Megaera, and Hades when they are killed by Zagreus, creating less enmity between them than such an act would normally cause.
    • This also seems to be part of the standard package for Elysium's heroic dead: Achilles implies Zagreus is fighting some of the same shades every time he passes through. Theseus and Asterius recover every time they're defeated, without having to go through the House of Hades first, and seem to think no worse of Zagreus for slaying them (well, not Asterius at any rate).
  • Rewarding Vandalism:
    • Some underworld renovations add urns that can drop money when you break them.
    • Dusa's keepsake, the Harpy Feather Duster, gives you a chance to find a healing item when you break an urn.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Styx features both usually and unusually sized rodents as recurring enemies.
  • Roguelike: A Rogue-lite, to be precise. The gameplay and story elements are intentionally designed for Zagreus to inevitably (and frequently) die, in addition to an upgrade system that allows the player to better themselves using currency retained between runs. On the other hand, it's not turn-based like the original Rogue and instead uses a much faster system of real-time action combat.
  • Running Gag: No one ever knows what time it is in the Underworld. This causes most of its inhabitants no end of frustration, especially Hades himself.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Zagreus's romantic resolutions with Megaera and Thanatos culminate with a Fade to Black in Zagreus's room, the accompanying audio implying that they were, ahem, enjoying themselves during it.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Greatshields, encountered in Elysium, wield gigantic shields that block all attacks from the front.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The Adamant Rail can be upgraded into a double-barreled shotgun, and it is as effective against mostly melee, mobbing enemies as you might expect. It helps that the shots pierce.
  • Shown Their Work: Elysium is typically understood as "Greek Heaven". While this is pretty much true, Greek ideals of what made a "good" person deserving of Heaven often leaned towards warring and killing; the All-Loving Hero is actually fairly rare in Hellenic lore. In this game, this matter is well-understood, with Patroclus bitterly commenting that the paradise of Elysium doesn't have any of the good, decent men he knew in it, and Hades remarking that Elysium "isn't for the good, it's for the great".
    • Zagreus himself is this as Zagreus is a cthonic god often associated with the Underworld. In some myths, he is the son of Persephone and Hades. In addition, Mycenaean Dionysus was sometimes called Dionysus Zagreus and often associated with rebirth, something that happens with Zagreus of the game as well.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When facing off against the fourth area's boss, Zagreus may sometimes tell the boss to stop the poetic ramblings and just fight already.
    Zagreus: No. No mournful speeches. Now get out of my way.
  • Situational Damage Attack:
    • The Critical Hit mechanic of the bow is maintained from Bastion, and will do additional damage if you release at the correct time.
    • The Standard Status Effects of the Gods deal damage based on their rarity and the attack the Boon is applied to. Slow attacks like the Bow's primary attack or the Rail's special add a lot of extra damage per strike from Doom and Hungover, while rapid-firing weapons like the Spear and Rail's primary attack add much less extra damage per hit.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Hades and Zagreus do not have a very good relationship, and their dialog frequently shows that.
    Hades: Your mother is the Night; your brothers, Death and Sleep. What does that make you, I wonder? There's no god of talking back to me.
    Zagreus: There is.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: The Olympian Gods are able to track Zagreus' escape attempts through Hades, but they can't speak to him directly, listen in on Zagreus' conversations, or see what happens fully within the House of Hades or the surface, as Hades is blocking them. They are able to respond to him live if offered Nectar, however, and their keepsakes are said outright to make it much easier for the god whose keepsake Zagreus is holding to locate him. Chaos can see Zagreus clearly for as long as he's within the Underworld and remains fully updated as to his progression, especially should he carry Chaos' aspect of Aegis.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: The Temple of Styx has a lot of Upgrades available for Zagreus. But it's odd, isn't it? Since Zag doesn't even want to fight the Guardian of the Temple, Cerberus. Hades, on the other hand, will give you a hell of a time once you exit the Temple.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Since the narrator has to cover for the fact that there's presently No Ending, Zagreus's hard-won victories to make it to the surface alive will always be immediately and unceremoniously undone with an absolutely ridiculous and arbitrary death that sends him right back to the House of Hades.
  • Taken for Granite: Gorgons shoot projectiles that will temporarily freeze Zagreus in stone. They can also affect anything you deflect them into, even the Gorgons, unless it's an Elite Mook.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Both Patroclus and Eurydice will begin to speculate that the Fates are responsible for Zagreus's regular run-ins with them. Sure enough, Zagreus's assistance in their personal troubles is listed in the List of Minor Prophesies.
  • Timed Mission: One of the Pact of Punishment challenges sets a timer for each floor, starting at nine minutes for the first rank and seven for the subsequent rank. If the timer expires before you beat the boss, you take 5 damage per second until the boss dies or you do.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: The Fated List of Minor Prophecies is styled as one of these In-Universe.
  • Truly Single Parent: According to the Codex, gorgons and megagorgons were created when the blood of the original Medusa's head dripped onto the ground.
  • The Underworld: The game's setting, which is divided into three parts: the Warrior Heaven of Elysium, the abyssal Extranormal Prison Tartarus, and Asphodel, which used to be a liveable limbo, but has since been flooded by the Phlegethon and turned into a Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Blood and darkness" is used as an all-purpose swear word. Zagreus tends to use it when. frustrated, as does Thanatos and Hades, the latter especially when Zagreus beats Hades. He asks his father why Persephone left the Underworld, only for Hades to whisper blood and darkness before being sent back to his palace.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: Tisiphone's special ability is to reduce the size of the arena she's fought in, making the fight more and more claustrophobic the more damage she takes.
  • Warrior Heaven: The Fields of Elysium are inhabited by the shades of the heroic dead, those who fell while performing great feats worthy of the gods' attention. Needless to say they spend their afterlife much as they did their lives, and gleefully pounce at the chance to defeat Zagreus on his way out.
  • World of Snark: In between Zagreus, Hades, Megaera and Thanatos, snarkiness seems to run in the Cthonic gods on both sides of Zagreus' parentage. Some of the Olympians can get rather snarky about each other as well, particularly the ones known not to get along in Classical mythology.
  • Why Don't You Marry It?: Frustrated with his stubbornness, Megaera tells Zagreus that, if he's so in love with death, he ought to just bang Thanatos instead of constantly getting himself killed through his fruitless escape attempts. Considering Thanatos says Megaera was the one who talked him into finally acting on his feelings for Zagreus, this may not be entirely sarcastic on her part.
  • Zerg Rush: Rats are the game's weakest enemies, but to compensate the game pitches them at you a dozen at a time.


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