HADES

With Hades, Ablex continued to walk untrodden paths, creating Korea's first FPS. The aesthetics are very closely oriented on Doom, complete with similar demonic enemies that almost count as plagiarism, although the weapon selection might be a bit more futuristic.

The most unique element in the game is the terrain made of voxel graphics, as the stages alternate between Doom style mazes of narrow corridoors (although they're more loosely designed than id's masterpiece) and open, hilly areas that just serve as combat arenas and offer ample opportunity to restock ammunition.

In many stages it's also possible to find and board hovering vehicles, but they completely break the game, as they can fly over most obstacles, are nearly indestructible and usually have so much ammunition that it might just as well be unlimited.

While browsing the pages of Hardcore Gaming 101 some years ago, I came across an article about the obscure games from Korean developer Ablex. One game jumped out at me, a first-person-shooter by the name of Hades. You don't see many of this genre coming from the East, let alone one as early as 1995 so I curiously fired up my DOSBox and gave it a quick go.

Hades is a fast-paced frenetic shooter with simple, familiar mechanics but how it goes about them is something special for its time. Your main aim is to find a little orb thing that marks the end each level, and they can be nefariously hidden. Some levels have them positioned at the end of a relatively linear complex. Others or hidden in labyrinthine mazes that has you peeping around every nook and cranny. When they're dropped in the large open spaces, it really shows off what a voxel-based engine could accomplish.

While your searching for this elusive orb, a hoard of enemies bombard you with projectiles. They are relentless bullet sponges so I found the best tactic is to avoid them as best you can and speed run the gauntlet to the orb. They're kamikaze AI isn't all that complex but this style of play more than suits it. It reminds me a little of the first TimeSplitters game where you'll have to search for the MacGuffin of each stage before hightailing it back to the start while a more heavy stream of enemies rages against you. Put both halves together and Hades becomes a speedrunner's dream.

For the most part, the levels are nicely designed for the era. They're not as inventive as the likes of Doom, but I did enjoy exploring them. When the quality does drop, however, it's when the orb is so hidden it becomes a pain to find. Some levels can throw so much at you it can easily overwhelm but if you stay true to the goal, it's actually pretty damn fun.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 to bring the game to modern systems. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 13.4 Mb.  Install Size: 54.2 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


Hades is © Ablex
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


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4 comments:

  1. The 3rd stage of this is platforming hell... and the game DOESN'T tell you, that some of the rooms can act as an elevators (hint: those odd-colored squares) by using the space bar. You need to get to the highest point possible (remember: "A" is your jump key) and then manouver yourself over the walls to get to the end level orb. Frustrating!

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    1. Yeah, I had to look into that too. I assumed something may have been lost in translation. I could not find the full CD either (and it wasn't for want of trying) so the missing cutscenes may have held some clues too.

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  2. Those small caterpillars in the first level made me ragequit when I first tried it. Not sure if I'm gonna revisit this one soon.

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    1. You kinda have to treat them as obstacles rather than enemies. Run the gauntlet and dodge them and resist to urge to kill anything and everything that moves as they will gang up on you. Especially in later, more open world levels. Once you figure out that's how it's played - a mad rush to find the orb before you're overwhelmed - then you might enjoy it more.

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