Hades — Greek Mythology? What a Surprise!
The name of the game is that of the God of the Underworld… but it’s actually about his son
Over the last several articles, I have been discussing my recent fascination with roguelikes. This article will probably be the last for the time being, as I might want to talk about more roguelikes. Still, none are coming to me right now, so this time, I will talk about Hades, the other “revolutionary” roguelike that came out these past few years (the other one being Returnal, of course).
Contrary to what the name of the game might suggest, Hades has you play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, who is on a never-ending quest to defy his father and escape the underworld for good, all to meet his mother, and this is a roguelike, so he’s going to be trying a lot… for a long while. That’s pretty much the story’s premise, without spoiling too much. Additional subplots include Zagreus’ ever-growing pool of friends because you see…
Hades stand out among roguelikes because it has a lot of dialogue, so much that it seems that you’ll never get to the point where they exhaust it. And that’s why people like it so much, and that is because the game emphasises storytelling and characterisation, which is quite novel since most roguelikes only focus on the gameplay. But even though Hades stands out as a roguelike with narrative elements, the gameplay can get repetitive after a while, so I think the game falls a bit short in this aspect. But that’s ok because I’m less concerned with the characters’ portrayal and more with the game theme.
Why not Norse mythology? Or maybe even Egyptian?
So the characters in the game… talk a lot, and I mean a big lot because I invested hours into this game, and I haven’t exhausted the dialogue yet (I suppose I could’ve played more, considering I never reached the end). I don’t know how other people were impressed by the narrative, and I suppose there are plenty because that was the prominent feature people praised it for. But no matter how long I tried to reach the end of all the dialogues, I couldn’t help but think how childish the characters are, which is saying a lot considering that most of the characters are gods. Take Hades, for example, who is a prominent supporting character (despite what the title might suggest), and who is always grumpy and disgruntled for no apparent reason whatsoever. Sometimes, he can get grumpy to the point where he pretends he never lost a battle once (which is far from the truth) as a 6-year-old does. Sure, the dialogue is like a gushing waterfall that won’t stop streaming… but why does it have to be Greek mythology again?
There have been a plethora of games centred on Greek mythology, and not just games, but frankly, any other medium you can imagine. The theme of Greek mythology has been grounded so much in modern fiction that it got old, and I mean beyond mythology. How much more can a consumer enjoy the ever-so-popular stories of Zeus and his Olympian douchebags (it was known that the Greek gods were jerks, especially Zeus)?
I’m trying to say this: everyone and their grandma already know of all the misadventures every Greek god had, and most of them are themed around adultery. I would vouch for more Norse mythology instead, but that too is almost getting repetitive (mainly since it was popularised by Marvel). I rarely see games centred on Egyptian mythology, Celtic, Voodoo, Chinese, or Australian mythology. These are just examples of some mythologies that people should discuss more. How? Good question…
Smite already did it… but maybe other games?
As the headline suggests, there is one very notable game today that I managed to talk about twice that takes as many mythologies as possible and puts them in a single game. Now, if there could be a developer who does what Smite did, bringing in as many mythologies as possible into a single game, that would be an idea to try out. But that’s the obvious solution. What’s more, it doesn’t do anything to solve the problem because it would still be a game with Greek mythology in it, just one that has a bunch of other mythologies featured in it.
The less obvious option is to make a game about non-Greek mythology. Instead of going with Norse mythology’s second most obvious choice, I suggest something more esoteric. Instead of that, maybe try out the Yoruba pantheon or explore the Hawaiian legends. There are many options besides Greek, so many try one of those.
Frankly, these two are the best solutions anyone can come up with regarding the issue, because “make a game with no mythology at all” wouldn’t be a solution, as it would be avoiding the subject entirely, which wouldn’t help with figuring out which mythologies to theme a game around. Frankly, when making a game about mythology, the two things above that I wrote… are the only things I can come up with right now, but there doesn’t seem to be a need for more solutions, so… make of it what you will.
I suppose that, like everyone, you also like Hades
Even though I’m obsessed with roguelikes at the moment, Hades is not my favourite in the genre, which is contrary to what most people would have to say about the game. Whatever you think of it, be it the theme of Greek mythology or something general, you know where to write your opinion… which is in the comment section.
I won’t deny that Hades is a good game because it is, just not for me with the whole storytelling shtick and tedious gameplay. If you consider yourself impressed enough by it, you’d probably want to try it out to find out if it suits your style of games.
As for the whole mythology thing, whether it’s necessary or not is a creative debate, and if people want to use it as a theme, they can because nothing prevents them from using it, even if it is as recycled as Greek mythology.
With that being said, I’d love to see a game about non-Greek mythology, like maybe Korean or Inca or, frankly, any other mythology that nobody heard of… but the legends of the Aboriginal Australians is something that I would like to see.