Hades Writer Explains Script Philosophy After Player Discovers Incredible Detail
The script in Hades is extremely reactive, and writer Greg Kasavin has explained how and why.
Disclaimer: Greg Kasavin is the former executive editor of GameSpot. Mike Mahardy also previously worked for GameSpot.
Hades recently left Early Access and released version 1.0 on PC and Switch, and players have been digging into all the little details sprinkled throughout the game. Now, in a brief Twitter thread about a tremendous reactive narrative moment, the game's writer has shared some insight into the philosophy behind the game's writing.
Polygon's Mike Mahardy noted on Twitter that Megaera, one of the Fury bosses in the game, chastized him during a fight for taking her down after taking on so many upgrades from the mirror in Zagreus' room. So, out of curiosity, he reset his upgrades and fought her again--and found that she actually acknowledged that he'd done it after their discussion.
Yet another wonderful Hades detail:— Mike Mahardy (@mmahardy) September 24, 2020
Upon beating Meg, she told me it didn’t really count, considering I had an advantage from the mirror’s upgrades. Out of curiosity, I spent a key to reset and clear the upgrades, beat Meg again, and she ACKNOWLEDGED IT.
This game. pic.twitter.com/j1b61MBYXf
Greg Kasavin popped up in the responses to offer some more insight, revealing that there are different variations on the discussions you can have with Meg back in the House of Hades after all of this transpires, too. This isn't something that's necessarily directly visible to players, but it means that the game is extremely reactive to what they do.
There are also three different variations of the follow-up event back at the House of Hades depending on where your relationship with her is at at the time.— Greg Kasavin (@kasavin) September 24, 2020
In a follow-up, Kasavin explained the simple philosophy underpinning the game's writing, and said that an Early Access release made it easier to keep fine-tuning the characters and their interactions. The game sold about 700,000 copies in Early Access, and has since passed 1 million sales. Extremely positive word of mouth and excellent reviews likely helped it reach the 1 million mark so quickly after launch. It's already being talked about as a game-of-the-year contender.
The mindset was pretty simple: What would these characters talk about and what would they notice? Add those interactions.— Greg Kasavin (@kasavin) September 24, 2020
Early Access meant we could hurtle forward. Our players liked the characters for the most part so we kept developing them.
According to Kasavin, the game continued to add new check conditions as it grew, and by the time of full release it was quite hard to track everything. The writer points out that the game has some very complex subplots, not all of which will necessarily be experienced by every player.
It's a simple system at heart, we just kept adding more types of conditions to check against as the game grew. We didn't have any visualization of the event connections, though, so it got trickier to manage everything as our content expanded. Couple of complex subplots in there.— Greg Kasavin (@kasavin) September 24, 2020
In a separate Twitter thread, Kasavin talked about how the story of Hades is unique in that dying is how you advance the story. For that reason, the team didn't want to include a traditional "easy" mode to let players breeze through, because that would impact how much of the story they see. Their solution was to introduce a "God Mode," which comes with a famous Latin (not Greek) reference. This game's "God Mode" does not make you invincible--it makes you more resistant to damage after each death. Rather than simply give up on helping you improve, it can give you the boost you need to keep going.
Dying is how you advance much of the story in Hades, so we didn't want a traditional 'easy mode'. But we did want a way for players to be able to progress through the story even if they were struggling against some of the game's tougher challenges (or just didn't want to deal). https://t.co/CKZtfe2cKa— Greg Kasavin (@kasavin) September 25, 2020
Here's how the setting is contextualized in-game, and the buff you get when you toggle the setting on.— Greg Kasavin (@kasavin) September 25, 2020
I feel only very slightly ashamed for putting this bit of Latin in this game (the Greek it's based on is not as well known). pic.twitter.com/7CsMN7Ivda
The game earned a 9/10 in GameSpot's Hades review, and its writing was singled out as one of its best qualities.
"What sets Hades apart isn't just that it's a great roguelike with the kind of repeatable depth that makes it engrossing to play for hours, but also how it uses its structure to tell an ongoing story about family, secrets, and resolution," wrote reviewer Suriel Vazquez. The game has not been announced for PS4 or Xbox One; the studio's previous game, Pyre, was a console exclusive for PS4. Its other games, such as Transistor and Bastion, have come to other platforms, too.
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