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Hades mobile review – “A port of a fantastic game that comes with a few labours to deal with”

  • A fantastically entertaining romp through Greek mythology
  • So many ways to modify your playstyle each run
  • The touchscreen is a terrible downfall

I have never really been a fan of roguelikes – the idea of putting in time only to just lose all of it when you die always bothered me, so when Hades was originally released back in 2020, I missed all the hype. With it coming to mobile through Netflix, I figured I would give it a go, and I am so pleased that I did.

Journey through some interesting mythology

Hades is a roguelike action RPG set against the backdrop of Greek mythology, which is perfect for someone like me who adores this part of culture. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, who is on a mission to escape the Underworld and make it to his family up on Mount Olympus. Father Hades isn’t a fan of this idea, however, and would rather see his son die countless times, thus beginning the cycle. Boss battle with Hydra

To reach your goal, you will need to go through the game’s four stages: Tartarus, Asphodel, Elysium, and the Temple of Styx. Each of these plays host to a hoard of enemies and some bosses dispatch on your way to freedom through the use of standard attacks, special skills, the Cast projectiles, and many, many dodges. Standard fare, but Hades has enough nuances that kept me coming back for more.

Meet an interesting cast of characters

First off is definitely the story and the characters. This might be the first and only Greek story where the main conflict wasn’t caused by Zeus’ promiscuity. The main battle between father and son is quite tragic, not from the family angle, but more because Hades just doesn’t seem to care about what his son is up to, leaning more towards arrogance, whereas Zagreus builds up his arsenal and group of friends in relative peace. Conversation with Charon

Going through the story, you will meet a myriad of interesting characters you can interact with, including all the Gods and Goddesses from Mt Olympus, one of the furies Megera, and a smattering of friends in Hades’ hall such as Ms Dusa, a gorgon housekeeper. Each of these is very interesting, and there is a lot of humour to be found in their interactions, such as Zagreus flippantly calling Charon, the imposing shopkeeper and boatman of the river Styx, “mate” in their interactions, or the narrator inadvertently letting key story information slip to Zagreus and trying to retcon it when he realises his mistake. It also helps that the voice actors are all top-notch.

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A fantastic level of depth for your armoury

As well as this army of friends, you have a huge plethora of ways to arm yourself. Starting with weapons, you get a choice of six including the Twin Fists of Malphon for rapid melee strikes, or the Adamant Rail if you want to rather hilariously rampage through the Underworld with an automatic gun. Each of these can also be augmented through the use of Aspects for special abilities, such as sticking the Aspect of Chiron onto the Bow to allow for homing special attacks.

When you dive into the dungeons, you will start encountering boons from the gods that add special effects to your moves, like Zeus turning your Cast into chain lightning, or Aphrodite adding the Weak effect to your moves which decreases enemy damage when you bop them. Add these to the Daedalus Hammer that can modify each weapon with a set of unique skills, and you can make quite a distinct build.

Weapon upgrade screen

I was quite partial to the Aegis shield, with its standard attack knocking enemies into walls for extra damage, a special that frisbees it around multiple enemies, and the Bull Rush, which blocks every attack and then lets you charge through foes. I combined the Aspect of Chaos, which lets you throw more shields after a Rush, the Dashing Flight upgrade from the hammer that adds more damage to your Special after a dodge, and the Tempest Flourish boon from Poseidon that added knockback to the Special. Put all this together, and my throws were demolishing everything on the screen and keeping enemies at arm’s length. In a PvP environment, I would have been an utter menace. All this to say, there is a damn near unlimited number of combinations available to keep every run feeling fresh.

Hades drops the ball in a big way

Unfortunately, I did personally keep running into quite a big problem with one key aspect of this port: the touchscreen controls. I was playing on an iPhone 13 Pro which has a six-inch screen so it isn’t exactly a giant, but there should be plenty of space. However, I was constantly falling foul of misclicks and just complete input ignorance.

You have three layouts to choose from which annoyingly can’t be customised. For a long time, I stuck to layout one for a while and was constantly using the cast action when I was trying to dash. There is enough space between them that this shouldn’t happen, but it was constant. Switching to layout two helped alleviate that issue, but I was still left with the floating joypad problem.

Combat with witches in Hades

Far too often when I slapped my thumb down to get Zagreus off his butt and moving, nothing happened, which is extremely unhelpful when a coven of witches are filling the screen with orbs of doom. I do accept I have big hands which can cause some of these problems, but it happened too many times for that to be the only factor. In a game where precise movement and button presses are the difference between surviving or losing a lot of progress, you need perfection from controls – and Hades, unfortunately, misses that by quite a bit.



An optional accessory all but required

Now, does this mean you should give up on playing Hades on mobile? Not in the slightest, because it comes with complete controller support, and I have a sneaking suspicion this is how the developers want you to play. As well as ridding the screen of the UI, you can also fully customise what you want every button to do. Why not extend this courtesy to the touchscreen and let me play around with my own layout? Hades - Game Over screen

Either way, when you connect that controller, it is revolutionary. I only have a dedicated mobile controller for Android devices, so I attached my DualSense, and you can absolutely see why Hades got all the acclaim it did. If you plug yourself into one of the controllers like a Backbone or a Kishi with the remotes on either side, then I can’t imagine a better way to play. Hades works perfectly as a portable game, and a phone is much easier and simpler to take with you than a Switch.

Unnecessary restrictions will hamper this growth

Now for the kick in the proverbials for many mobile players, Hades is only available on iOS. This follows a set trend for developers Supergiant Games not releasing titles on Android for whatever reason they have. It feels like a missed opportunity, especially seeing as it’s through Netflix so it isn’t like sales numbers are a factor – just makes it a shame for a big chunk of gamers. It will certainly find its place among the best Netflix games at the moment, but it could’ve had a much bigger audience.

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