In its 2020 release after a long stage of early access, indie game Hades it immediately captured the love of gamers and critics, garnering more than a million sales shortly after its official release, garnering awards nominations from a plethora of gaming programs, and appearing on numerous year-end charts. Developer Supergiant’s roguelike follows the Greek demigod Zagreus as he tries to escape the underworld led by his titular father as he interacts with a number of other Olympic gods and legendary figures drawn from Greek mythology. Plus a tight, nice gameplay and great artwork, which it really does Hades the brilliance is his excellent and nuanced writing. This extends to the romantic choices of the game, which cleverly and positively present elements of relationships that seldom play well in games, that is, they represent polyamory and twist better than many of their peers.
Hades it has three characters that players can attract to Zagreus: Dusa, a floating gorgonian head who resides in the rest area of the game between races; Thanatos, the Greek personification of death that seems to offer Zagreus challenges and rewards during a career; and Megaera, one of the Fury sisters who appears alongside her brothers as the head of the first section of the game. Players advance these romances between escape attempts by holding conversations with each character and giving them the collectible Nectar, opening new scenes and deepening their connection.
While this approach to romance is a fairly standard video game trope, Hades offers a little-seen story here, as Dusa will tell at the end of her story that, although she has tried, she has no romantic feelings for Zagreus, and the duo accepts a more platonic but equally deep friendship.
This leaves Thanatos and Megaera as characters with whom Zagreus can enter into a romantic relationship. Players can chase both characters or either of them at their own pace. If the players enter into a relationship with both of them, shortly afterwards there will be a scene with Thanatos and Megaera appearing in Zagreus’ room along with an offer to sleep together, after which Megaera claims that the three characters ” they have reached an agreement here “. ”, Effectively entering the three in a polyamorous relationship.
Simply put, polyamory means having a romantic or sexual relationship with more than one person, with all parties consenting to the agreement. (It is also important to note that while Zagreus, Megaera, and Thanatos all sleep together, this is not a requirement for being polyamorous, which is not inherently sexual in nature.) With the conversation they have together, this becomes the status of Hades trio for the rest of the match.
What is so remarkable about this performance is that it is still rare in any medium, let alone in video games. In many romance games, choosing a partner will lock you into that romance without exploring another one at a time. Players may be able to flirt with more than one character at a time, but will be forced to choose a single partner at some point and will have to break up with them to be with someone else, as in Massive effects series o Stardew Valley. Manda Farough, co-founder of F-Squared and Twitch streamer who herself is polyam, remembers catching Hades and surprised by the performance. “It was very, very wonderful to be able to look at these two characters and be, like, I don’t have to choose, because they are both beautiful,” he says. “And they’re both weird and scary and wonderful in their very different ways.”