The Philosophical Metaphor of Supergiant’s Hades

The Dichotomy of Roguelike Games

In addition includes a philosophical metaphor, Supergiant’s Hades is an example of a video game that stands out above all the great roguelikes. The game won the hearts of critics and fans alike. It included games of the same genre, namely roguelikes, such as Dead Cells and The Binding of Isaac. In addition to winning the Hugo Award, the game has established itself as a pioneer above such a genre. A roguelike game is a sub-genre of a genre for people who mostly do not know. In the genre, the player moves through procedurally generated levels. It often collects equipment or upgrades before dying and starting over.

At first glance, the game follows all the basics of a roguelike. The protagonist, Zagreus, tries to escape the Underworld repeatedly. The player also collects weapons, new upgrades, and dies. What sets Hades apart from most roguelikes is the story that unfolds from the player’s constant attempts to escape. The game inserts its exposition between an escape or run and becomes the point where most of the story occurs. However, the game also builds a story while running where Hades is a complete vantage of philosophy, metaphor, and theme.

A Quick Recap

In Hades, the player controls Zagreus, a rebellious prince who becomes a rebel to the throne of the Underworld. Besides being sick of living under his father, Hades, Zag is determined to fight his way through the Underworld. He strives to make his way to the surface that is Mount Olympus. Throughout the adventure, the player receives power-ups or Olympian Boons and advice from the Zag family. The gods desperately wanted Zag to escape and join Mount Olympus with the other gods. Nevertheless, there is one problem. No matter how many Boons Ares or Zeus armed, Zag’s attempts always ended with trudging back out of the blood.

After death, Hades will always welcome Zag’s arrival cynically but sarcastically. Even when he made it to the top, he could not live more than a few minutes on the surface. So, every doomed escape was the start. Even after the player has made it to the top to finish the main story, the ending credits roll with Zag underground, right where he started. The player can continue to play more than ten times, defeating Hades. However, 100 or more will always end in the same way the player did on the first try.

A Quick Review

Home to the Prince of Zagreus is not just part of the journey. He became his family place, including his mentor and stepmother, to chat, sleep, eat, and hang out. A new story, character interactions, and even dialogue scenes between two other characters reward the player every time. Starting over and failing one escape is part of the experience. However, the usual reason for staying resistant is re-equipping the character with new abilities. It tiers the character to become a little stronger, choosing a new weapon and trying to run one more time. In essence, failure becomes a development of the philosophical metaphor of Supergiant’s Hades.

Every setback is an opportunity to progress as a playable character. In addition, as the protagonist is also on the hero’s journey, each recurring boss battle has a new dialogue. The boss will always review previous escape sessions’ comments on Zag’s weapons or new abilities. The game constantly provides a decision that is beneficial to the player. In essence, the game becomes a series of decisions that the player makes. It makes the player feel appreciated, excited, and happy. The games often give the player a choice of one or more, each decorated with a prize. It can be a currency of Nyx’s darkness at a specific moment. The player also encounters Charon, a speechless merchant, and sells items to help the player escape.

Hades: King of the Underworld

The early philosophical metaphor of Supergiant’s Hades, at first, is self-explanatory: Hades. Hades is one of the equally essential yet striking characters in the complexity between characters. He is the God of the Dead, starting the story through a character who is always disappointed when he sees Zag’s struggle to make an escape attempt. Every time Zag emerges from the pool of blood, Hades will constantly berate him subtly but painfully, a reflection also for the player experience as if it were talking to the player behind the scenes meta. However, Zag always believed his father only thought he was a useless son and tried to destroy the kingdom every time Zag tried to escape. However, the more the player uncovers what happened, the more the player discovers the real reason behind Hades’ persona.

In essence, the actual persona representation of Hades is slowly seeing the past, experiences, and characterization of the God of Dead as a fiery dealer of death but turning into an arc of redemption. Hades represents exhaustion from the harsher realities of life, where he struggles to live for thousands of years in desires and dreams. The game subverts a player’s expectations by using a family conflict in a story. The result is that the game transforms the main antagonist from a ruthless and murderous dictator into an image of a father trying to achieve his redemption. Hades’ persona twists the player’s expectations, where the player has spent dozens or even hundreds of escape attempts hating the antagonist and then faced reality similar to Zag’s fate.

Sisyphus: Punishment in the Underworld

In the second character of Supergiant’s Hades, Sisyphus becomes the second character who represents the philosophical metaphor of the game. In Greek myth, Sisyphus was a cunning king who sought to cheat death into punishment by being forced to push a rock up a hill for good. When he reaches the top of the hill, the boulder will always roll right back. The presence and philosophy of Sisyphus emerge as centralization of a fruitless repeated blow of boulder. It neatly reflects Zag’s failed and unsuccessful attempts. However, like Sisyphus, Zag escaped only to start over at the bottom of a hill to the Underworld. The player is like Sisyphus, will always be dragged back down again and again.

Albert Camus, an author of an essay entitled The Myth of Sisyphus, describes the suffering of Sisyphus in vain, exerting efforts that are ultimately fruitless. He has no purpose, no meaning, and existence—basically, all in vain. In Hades, repetition of spawn and returning from the beginning becomes a game mechanic at first glance and acts as the central part of the narrative. By being a constant feeling of the game, the boulder that the player is constantly pushing will always roll back down the Underworld. The player asks the game to try and try again. When the player finally made it to the top, Zag would always be aware that he had to escape endlessly, die, and rise again in a pool of blood as a means of distracting the gods.

The Vanity of Camus

Zagreus and Sisyphus’ relationship closely tied one common theme and metaphor: vanity. In specific dialogue, Sisyphus reveals that he has accepted that a useless boulder push is only his fate in life or death. In his acceptance, Sisyphus found satisfaction. Happily, he does his job without ever expecting to get anything with his boulder. As Camus thought, one had to keep imagining how Sisyphus was happy. Camus’ absurdity describes an individual’s trials and tribulations. At the same time, each individual can and should find joy in such absurdities.

In general, Zag performs himself in a cheerful manner similar to Sisyphus and the player as a reflection and afterthought. Therefore, the enjoyment of playing Hades comes from fewer wins being embraced with each new attempt. Like the player, Sisyphus seems very happy even after Zag finds a way to free him from punishment; he will always decide to keep pushing the boulder, just like the game telling the player to play again even when the player has finished the game. Sisyphus accepts a meaningless exploit and finds happiness in the pointless boulder thrusts. However, Hades was not just about accepting the fate of the player or even Zagreus.

Alienation and Isolation

As Zag wanders into the Underworld, he encounters several mythical figures who have fallen into a kind of nihilistic depression, such as Orpheus and Patroclus, who are too heartbroken to care about what happens to each of them. The game shifts from Camus’s by emphasizing the importance of relationships with other characters. Zag’s relationship between characters gives the player a chance to find meaning. As the game progresses, the player learns more and more about the characters who bond with the Underworld. Megaera is a prime example of many characters.

In the past, Zag and Meg had been in a relationship. However, based on the game’s events, the relationship has long ended due to an error on Zag’s part. When Zag begins his escape attempt, Hades assigns Meg to stop him. Despite disapproving of his attempt to leave the Underworld, seeing it as evading his responsibilities and family, Zag then has two choices: mending their relationship or rekindling their past. The point is that Meg and the other characters cannot escape their situation any more than Zag can. However, Zag and the other characters build connections to allow their relationships to create a community and give meaning to their lives.

The Underworld Connection

The philosophical metaphor is at the core of Supergiant’s Hades, where each character’s background makes it clear. The reason Zag started tearing apart his father’s empire was that such a furious patriarch refused to be tied to him. It is not only made Zag feel alienated, but he begins his quest for nothing and the absurd in reaching the surface. However, when he makes it to the top and meets his birth mother for the first time, his quest becomes about building a reconnection with her. Since the first successful escape, he has been willing to walk through hellfire continuously for the chance to spend more moments with his mother. The idea of connection becomes one of the best themes for existential crises and human error.

Zag was not much different from Sisyphus. However, at least he had friends and his family as he fought his way through the Underworld. While the world of Hades is far from all the spheres of its own that catastrophe fills, the same swirling feeling becomes familiar. The gameplay, as well as the slick vibe alone, can ensure that Zag’s battles through beautifully crafted hellish landscapes stay entertaining for a very long time. However, metaphorically and philosophically, Hades achieves a more profound resonance by representing Zag as a lowkey being dealing with human problems. The game presents a life of absurdism where the player is always against death for so long before meeting Cerberus. At the journey’s end, Zag becomes intolerable thanks to his dedication to those around him who worked hard together under circumstances of absurdism and nihilism.

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