Hades is a dungeon crawler rogue-like game from Supergiant Games. Released on other platforms in 2020, this critically acclaimed indie title is now available on PlayStation 5 and PS4. If you’ve yet to play Hades, or just want a refresher, we thought it would be useful to give you a rundown of everything you need to know about the game.

In this guide, we’ll be going through all the basics of Hades, breaking down the terminology and explaining all the key details of the game. We’ll also provide some tips and tricks for beginners, who might be struggling to battle their way out of the Underworld. Finally, if you’re looking for Trophies, we have a dedicated guide for you here — Hades: All Trophies and How to Get the Platinum.

Hades Guide: All the Basics and How to Play

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Hades starts fairly simple, but gradually becomes something rather complex, so let’s start from the top. This is an action game with a rogue-like structure. Played from an isometric perspective similar to Diablo, you play as Zagreus, prince of the Underworld and son of Hades. He’s desperate to escape the realm of the dead, but must fight his way through four randomly generated regions full of monsters and bosses in order to do so.

During an escape attempt, you’ll find aid from other Greek gods, powering Zagreus up in countless ways, as well as all kinds of helpful items and artefacts. If you die during a run, you return to the hub area and must start a fresh attempt. However, there are plenty of reasons why this isn’t as frustrating as it sounds.

Controls

Here are the default controls for Hades. These can be changed at any time in the Options menu.

Button Action
Left stick / D-pad Move
Square Attack
X Dash
Circle Cast
Triangle Special
R2 Call / Gift
L2 Summon
R1 Interact
L1 Open Codex
Touch Pad Boon Info

Attacks

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In Hades, whichever weapon you choose, you have access to a handful of offensive options.

You have a basic attack combo on Square, which is what you’ll be using most of the time. Then there’s the special on Triangle, which differs between weapons, but is essentially a useful extra attack that can knock foes away or keep them at bay. Press Circle for your cast, a limited use ranged attack that will come in very handy. Finally, you also have access to a dash attack. Press X to dash and then quickly press Square to attack, and you’ll perform a fast, forward attack.

Dash

Your dash is how you’ll evade most of the enemy attacks in the game. It’s a generous dodge that can quickly get you away from any dangerous situation, or can get you up close with a foe you need to deal with. During the dash animation, you have a window of invincibility, meaning you won’t take damage during the dash, so make liberal use of it to stay alive.

Weapons

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There are six base weapons, or Infernal Arms, to wield in Hades. To unlock most of these weapons, you will need a number of Chthonic Keys.

Stygius, the Blade of the Underworld: The Stygian Blade is the greatsword you start the game with, and is a good all-rounder. Its basic attack is a three-hit combo that ends with a powerful stab that can knock enemies back. Its special sends out a radius around you that can also keep enemies away. It’s probably the simplest weapon to use, and will be an early favourite.

Varatha, the Eternal Spear: As you might expect, this is a spear, and it has a much longer reach than the sword. It also has a simple three-strike combo, but all three strikes are forward stabs. You can also hold Square down to wind up a spin attack, which will hit any enemies in close proximity. Its special sees you throw the spear at the nearest enemy, and you can then press Square or Triangle to recall it. A surprisingly versatile weapon.

Aegis, the Shield of Chaos: The shield might sound like a weak choice, but it’s just as powerful as any other when used right. Its basic attack is a simple shield bash, but hold down Square and you’ll charge up a bull rush attack that sees you surge forward, shield first. This move is particularly important, because while charging the attack, the shield will block almost every attack thrown at you. The special is a throw that strikes the nearest foe and returns automatically. You’ll play a little more defensively with this weapon, but its extra protection can make a huge difference.

Coronacht, the Heart-Seeking Bow: Nicknamed the Heart-Seeker, the bow is a ranged weapon that plays quite differently. To attack, you must hold Square to charge an arrow. The longer you hold the button, the further the arrow will fly and the more damage it will do. There’s a very brief moment during this charge where Zagreus will flash white; loose the arrow when he flashes for the most powerful shot. The special sends out a sweeping volley of arrows in front of you, either used at long range to keep foes away or in short range, almost like a shotgun blast.

Malphon, the Twin Fists: The twin fists are large gauntlets that see Zagreus use his fists to fight. Hold Square for a five-hit combo, or press Triangle for the special, which in this case is an uppercut that strikes twice. Unlike other weapons, the fists have two dash attacks; dash and press Square for a simple horizontal blow, or dash and press Triangle for a quick uppercut. Powerful, and suited to those who like to get up close and personal.

Exagryph, the Adamant Rail: Exagryph is a gun with a 12-round capacity (by default). To attack, hold down Square to fire the weapon. When it’s empty, you’ll need to reload by pressing R3. The special is basically a grenade launcher; hold Triangle and you’ll see a giant marker on the ground. You can direct it with the left stick, and release Triangle to send the shot out. Anything caught in the blast radius will take damage, making it very useful for crowds.

Keepsakes

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Keepsakes are a means by which you can power up Zagreus as he attempts to escape the Underworld. Most NPCs in the game can offer you a Keepsake in exchange for Nectar. Gift a character a bottle of Nectar and you’ll unlock their Keepsake.

Each one has a unique passive effect that will make your life a little easier during a run. You can equip a Keepsake by interacting with the cabinet in the room with all the weapons. To start with, you cannot swap out your Keepsake once you begin an escape attempt. However, you can unlock the ability to switch Keepsakes between regions of the Underworld via the House Contractor.

Some of our favourite Keepsakes are: Skelly’s Lucky Tooth, Eurydice’s Evergreen Acorn, and Thanatos’ Pierced Butterfly.

House of Hades

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The House of Hades is the game’s hub area. This is the place you’ll come back to every time you die. There are numerous things you can do here.

Firstly, you can speak to any key characters who might be present. Anyone with a yellow exclamation mark above their head has something important to say, so make sure you talk to everyone to progress the story and learn about everybody.

Once unlocked, you can also pay a visit to the House Contractor. This character allows you to make cosmetic changes to the House in exchange for Gemstones. More importantly, though, you can purchase lots of key upgrades for the Underworld, making your runs a little easier.

Before you start your next run, you can also visit Zagreus’ room. Here, you can permanently upgrade him at the Mirror of Night, but there are more things to do in this area once you’ve unlocked them. In the last room, you can choose which weapon and Keepsake to take with you on your next escape attempt, and practice your skills on Skelly, an undead skeleton simply there to be whacked.

Wretched Broker

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The lounge is a section of the House of Hades that’s initially locked off, but after a little while, will be open to you. Inside you’ll find the Wretched Broker on the right. This character allows you to trade certain items for others. For example, you might be able to trade some Gemstones for some Chthonic Keys, or a bunch of Darkness in exchange for Nectar. It’s worth checking what deals the Broker is looking for in case you need something in particular.

Mirror of Night

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The Mirror of Night is a very important part of Hades. Located to the left in Zagreus’ chambers, it allows you to make permanent upgrades to the character that will come in very handy.

During runs, you’ll collect purple gems called Darkness. It’s this currency that you’ll use at the Mirror of Night to make these permanent boosts. Any that you invest in will stick with you, so you’ll gradually become more powerful, and your subsequent attempts will be that little bit easier.

Initially, only a couple of permanent upgrades will be open to you, but you can unlock more of them with Chthonic Keys.

What Is Kept and What Is Lost When You Die?

As a rogue-like game, not everything in Hades is permanent. During the course of a run through the game, you will gather all kinds of upgrades and items, but if you die, you’ll lose some of it. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll lose and what you’ll keep when you die in Hades.

When you die in Hades, you lose:

When you die in Hades, you keep:

Hades Guide: Boons, Room Rewards, and More

In this section, we’ve listed out some of the most important aspects of escape attempts, or runs. There are a lot of things to be aware of when you’re out on a run, so here’s all you need to know.

Boons

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A huge aspect of Hades, Boons are gifts from the gods that will supplement Zagreus with all kinds of powerful benefits for the duration of the current run. Which Boons you discover during a run is random, so you can’t plan out a build as such. However, each god offers Boons with distinct effects, so you can pick and choose which gods’ abilities you want to utilise. Boons can affect your health, attack, special, cast, and dash, and each god can also offer you a Call — a powerful extra move that charges up as you deal out damage. Here’s what each god’s Boons will generally do for you.

  • Aphrodite: Her Boons will inflict Weak on enemies. Weak is a status effect that reduces an enemy’s attack power. Aphrodite’s Boons can also improve your defence.
  • Ares: His Boons will inflict Doom on enemies. Doom is a status effect that deals an extra bit of damage to enemies after a short delay. Ares’ Boons can also increase your attack power.
  • Artemis: Her Boons will increase your critical hit chance and can supplement attacks with seeking arrows.
  • Athena: Her Boons will supplement your abilities with Deflect, which allows you to send projectiles and other incoming attacks back at your foes. Athena’s Boons may also increase your defences.
  • Chaos: This god gives Boons that grant very powerful effects, but you must first suffer a debuff of some kind for a number of enemy encounters.
  • Demeter: Her Boons will inflict Chill on enemies. Chill is a status effect that temporarily slows enemies down. Demeter’s Boons can also increase healing capabilities.
  • Dionysus: His Boons will inflict Hangover on enemies. Hangover is a status effect that deals chip damage for a brief period, like a poison effect. Dionysus’ Boons can also increase your defence.
  • Hermes: His Boons will increase your movement and attack speed, afford additional dashes, and improve your dodge chance.
  • Poseidon: His Boons are all about knocking enemies away. Poseidon’s Boons can also make rewards more valuable.
  • Zeus: His Boons can supplement your abilities with chain lightning or lightning bolts.

Darkness

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Darkness is the name given to the purple, teardrop-shaped gems you’ll acquire during a run. This is a persistent currency — meaning you keep it after death — that is used to purchase upgrades at the Mirror of Night. It’s one of the most common room rewards.

Gemstones

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Gemstones are the multicoloured jewels that appear as room rewards during an escape attempt. This is another persistent currency, so it’ll stay with you after you die. This can be exchanged at the House Contractor for cosmetic items or important upgrades that will make your runs more interesting.

Chthonic Keys

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Chthonic Keys are, well, keys that appear as room rewards. Awarded one at a time, these are in shorter supply than the above two currencies, but are also persistent. You can use these keys to unlock weapons, and also to unlock new skills at the Mirror of Night.

Nectar

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Nectar is a rare item you may find as a room reward. This persistent item stays with you after death, and is used to increase your affinity with other characters.

Charon’s Obol

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Charon’s Obol is gold that is only kept during the current run. This currency can be spent at a Well of Charon or Charon’s Shop in order to buy useful items, Boons, and more.

Pom of Power

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Another potential room reward is the Pom of Power. This reward will level up one of three of your equipped Boons, making them stronger during that run.

Daedalus Hammer

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This room reward gives you three options by which to upgrade your weapon during that run. These upgrades can be very powerful and can sometimes change your weapon’s behaviour quite dramatically.

Centaur Heart

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The Centaur Heart is a room reward that adds 25 points to your maximum health. Of course, the more health you have, the longer you’ll stay alive, so it’s always worth considering this option if you think your health bar is a bit weedy.

Charon’s Shop

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You may see a room reward that looks like a pouch full of gold. This is Charon’s Shop, where you can interact with the character and peruse his three randomised items for sale. These rooms are free of combat and sometimes contain healing items, so it’s worth paying a visit if you have some spare Obol.

Chaos Gate

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After a little while, you might happen upon a Chaos Gate during a run. These appear on the floor and unlock once you’ve cleared any enemies. This is how you can pay a visit to the god Chaos and receive a Boon of theirs, but to enter the gate, you must sacrifice a small amount of health.

Hades Guide: Trophies

One benefit of playing Hades on PS5 and PS4 is the Trophy list. Trophy hunters will be pleased to know the game has a Platinum and a lengthy list of other trinkets to unlock along the way. If you’re interested in Hades Trophies and want to know how to get them, see our dedicated guide here — Hades: All Trophies and How to Get the Platinum.

Hades Guide: Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Below, we’ve got some tips and advice for players new to Hades. There’s a lot to soak in, but if you follow the below words of wisdom, you should escape Hell in no time.

Invest in Death Defiance

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One of the most important permanent upgrades you can get is Death Defiance. Found in the Mirror of Night, each level costs a pretty considerable amount of Darkness to unlock, but it’s well worth it. Death Defiance is a skill that brings you back from a fatal blow with some health, essentially giving you a second chance during a run. Once you put enough Darkness into this skill at the Mirror, you will be able to cheat death up to three times per run, significantly boosting your chances.

It’s worth saying here, though, that basically everything in the Mirror of Night is useful. Just make sure you get at least one Death Defiance to extend those earlier runs.

Get the Fated List of Minor Prophecies from the House Contractor

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Once you’ve discovered the House Contractor, an early item you’ll find in the list of jobs is the Fated List. It isn’t too expensive, and the list will then appear in Zagreus’ room on his desk. It’s worth getting ASAP, because as you fulfill the prophecies in the list, it will reward you with lots of desirable items, like Gemstones, Chthonic Keys, and even more valuable goodies.

Dish Out That Nectar

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Nectar is a fairly rare commodity in Hades, but that doesn’t mean you should hold onto it. It becomes more common later on, so in the early game, the best thing to do with Nectar is share it out. Approach an NPC, and you should be able to Gift your Nectar. If it’s the first time you’re giving a character Nectar, they will return the favour with a Keepsake, and it’s always best to have options, right? The more Nectar you give a character, the closer Zagreus will become with them, which leads to other benefits too.

By the way, an early recommendation from us? Gift Nectar to Skelly. His Keepsake gives you an extra Death Defiance per run.

Beware Enemies with Yellow Armour

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Some enemies you encounter will have a yellow outline and a yellow health bar. This means they’re armoured. Unlike regular enemies, your attacks won’t stun or interrupt them. Be careful when dealing with these foes; just spamming them won’t halt their offence. Furthermore, they aren’t dead when their yellow meter is depleted; you will have to whittle down their regular red health too.

Spend Your Charon’s Obol

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Charon’s Obol, or gold, does not carry over between runs. You’ll accumulate a fair bit of it as you clear rooms and progress through the Underworld, but don’t hoard it, because it can’t come with you. If you visit Charon’s Shop or a Well of Charon and there’s something you want or need, buy it! It’ll be more use to you than a pocket full of change.

Doors with a Little Skull Icon Contain Tougher Encounters

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During a run, you’ll often come across more than one pathway to advance. These doors show you what reward they contain, and sometimes, next to that reward will be a little skull. Doors with this emblem indicate that the enemy encounter they contain will be more difficult than usual; they might contain a high number of baddies, or even a mini-boss. Take them on if you’re feeling confident, just know it’ll be a tougher fight.

Experiment with Weapons

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Hades has six core weapons once you’ve unlocked them all, and they’re all very different from each other. You’re likely to find a favourite, but don’t limit yourself to just one or two. Make sure to take them all for a spin, as they’re all perfectly viable choices. What’s more, after a while, the game will reward you for trying different things.

In the courtyard where the weapons live, you might see one of them glowing purple. If you equip this weapon, it will grant you extra Darkness when you collect it on your next run, so it’s always worth considering using that armament for the bonus loot.

Experiment with Boons

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There are 10 Olympian gods who may offer their Boons during a run, and the best thing about these upgrades is that they stack. You can end up with some very powerful builds as you gather Boons that complement each other. By design, you’ll find random Boons during the course of a run, but you can still prioritise, for example, your special move, amping it up with abilities from multiple gods to make it your trump card.

There are so many possible combinations — and even powerful Duo Boons to discover — so test the waters, try out new stuff, and see what works well for you.

God Mode Exists

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If you’re really struggling to get through Hades and just want to see the story through, fear not — there’s God Mode. Found in the Settings menu, you can toggle on God Mode, which makes you tougher every time you die. It starts out by boosting your defence by 20 per cent, and then each death bumps up that number by a further two per cent. In other words, turn this on and you’ll be harder to kill, as your defence will get incrementally higher with each death. Eventually, you’ll be able to waltz on through the Underworld like it’s nothing. If you’re more invested in the characters and story than you are the challenge, give God Mode a try.

Oh, also: God Mode does not disable Trophies, so go nuts.


And that wraps up our Hades guide. That’s about everything that new players will need to know about Hades on PS5 and PS4. Will you be delving into the Underworld for the first time? Tell us in the comments section below.




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