Now is the perfect time to get stuck into the Early Access game Hades. The big Blood Price update in June added a lot to the game and the 1.0 release should be happening soon.

Like with all roguelikes it’s best to jump in blind to get a feel for things and then come back here for some further explanations about some finer mechanics as well as advice for what usually works best and gets you closer to the final boss.

Room power rankings

Hades is a bit unique in the roguelike world as it will always show you what reward(s) each room provides before you even enter them. It does this by way of the icon inside of the glass orb before every room.

While this information is nice to have it can be difficult to determine the best path if you can’t weigh up what will benefit your run the most, especially if you’re finding your footing in this game. Below is our rough power rankings which you can use as a kind of logic tree to determine the best route.

Click on the name of each kind of room reward to be taken to the Hades fan wiki for a bit more information.

  1. Daedalus Hammers significantly change how your weapon functions and how much damage they do, and should always be your first choice. Some are better than others but they should never be missed.
  2. NPC Chambers are the next best reward to choose as they provide some of the best stuff loot without the need to fight a room of enemies, which itself can be a blessing when you’re low on health. Visiting them also progresses the various story lines in the game.
  3. Boons are gifts from the various Olympian gods and are the main upgrades you will find in Hades. They can modify just about every aspect of the game, combined for synergies and have rarities.
  4. Centaur Hearts provide a flat increase to your maximum HP. Always useful especially in early playthroughs.

Other items like keys, Darkness, Gemstones and more can all be used to progress the current run you’re on or for meta progression for future attempts. These are more dependent on how your current run is going and what you want to invest in, but are usually of less importance than the four above.


Spread your Nectar evenly (not a euphemism)

Nectar is a resource you can collect in Hades which is mainly used as a gift to give to NPCs. How nice. You will notice the option to gift certain NPCs at specific times under the option to talk to them.

When you start the game it’s best to give each new NPC you meet one bottle of Nectar. This is because, for most characters in the game, the first time you give them a bottle they will repay the favour with a gift of their own in the form of a Keepsakes.

Keepsakes are items you can equip for your runs which have a variety of uses.

You can keep track of which characters you’ve given Nectar too – and how many times – by using the Codex when it’s unlocked. It can be opened by holding in the left bumper by default. Each time you give a character Nectar one of the hearts on their page will fill up.

After you’ve unlocked all the Keepsakes keep giving characters Nectar to improve your relationship with them and unlock more of the story.


Use keys on weapons first

When you start the game you will only have access to a few of the six main weapons in the game. Once you’ve completed a few runs the ability to unlock more will be presented to you, which will require keys.

It’s suggested that you use your keys on weapons first. Not only does this give you more variety, but it also allows you to find a favourite earlier in your experience.

You may find that certain weapons feel underpowered the first few times you try them. All we can say is that each definitely has its own strengths and you will get accustomed to them soon enough.

After you’ve unlocked all the weapons the game will encourage you to use a different one every run. You will see that certain weapons have a black and purple haze around them (see the bow in the image above). This signifies that, should you use them for your next run, you’ll get an additional 20% Darkness.


Spend Darkness on health first

Darkness is another currency which is used to unlock permanent stat bonuses for the player character Zagreus. This will be unlocked by way of the mirror in Zagreus’ room.

As with most roguelikes there’s a variety of options to invest in but increasing your health is usually the best way to go so you can tank more hits as you learn the game better.

Thick Skin is unlocked after a few runs (also requiring keys, like the weapons) but it really helps. As does Chthonic Vitality (more health regain when you enter a room) and Death Defiance (more health regain when you die and come back).


Synergies and stacking

In roguelikes synergies refer to a combination of two or more elements that work together to make the game either, while stacking refers to a collection of the same elements which do the same thing for greater effect.

Synergies usually come in two flavours: soft and hard.

Soft synergies are player-made which may or may not have been planned for the player by the developer. In Hades, for example, you can acquire a Boon from the god Artemis called Support Fire which shoots an arrow at enemies when you Attack, Cast or use your Special. Getting any other upgrade that increases Attack, Cast or Special speed would mean more arrows and more damage.

Hard synergies are purposefully programmed in by the developer. In Hades this is best exemplified by Duo Boons – these are usually more powerful Boons which are only unlocked by having Boons from two different gods. These come with unique attacks, animations, and more that reward players for acquiring certain items during a run.

Finally stacking can be looked at as the opposite of diversifying your build. Going back to attack speed, if you choose only this kind of upgrade as it appears you can try and snowball this on effect so your individual upgrades are worth more than the sum of their parts.

Synergies and stacking are a bit of game theory not unique to Hades but they’re both worth remembering when you’re sitting at a choice between items and can’t decide which to take.

Clinton has been a programmer, engineering student, project manager, asset controller and even a farrier. Now he handles the maker side of htxt.africa.