10 essential Hades tips and tricks to help you escape the underworld

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

Hades tips and tricks are in high demand now that Supergiant Games' god-like rogue-like is out of early access and pummeling countless new players with heaps of content tied to its exponential difficulty curve. We've braved the hazards of the underworld ourselves, and after clearing the game, we've come up with 10 tips that we really wish we'd known at the start of our journey. These Hades tips will get you on the right track in the early game and help you maximize your resources in the mid- to late-game. Everything after that is down to you and your thumbs. 

Hades weapon upgrades | Hades Erebus chambers | Hades Nectar | Hades God Mode

1. Focus on collecting Chthonic Keys when you start  

There are a lot of resources in Hades, so it's not always obvious which one you should prioritize. When you're just starting off, the answer is Chthonic Keys. These keys unlock (heh) core, game-changing upgrades including new weapons and Mirror of Night abilities. If you're given the choice of a key versus jewels or gold, always go for keys until your armory and mirror are maxed out. You'll eventually unlock the option to trade jewels for keys at a merchant in the underworld, so if you find yourself with an excess of jewels, you can convert them. With that being said, you should also put your jewels to good use… 

2. Get these must-have Contractor upgrades 

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

Jewels and diamonds are primarily used at the underworld Contractor to add new features to your base and new bonuses to future escape attempts. Most of these are minor boosts like extra health or resources, but a few are downright mandatory. 

First, you'll want to get the Fountain Chamber for Tartarus. This will unlock two valuable upgrades: the Fated List of Minor Prophecies, which is basically a set of challenges that dish out big rewards, and the Regional Keepsake Collection, which lets you swap Keepsakes at the end of each region. You'll also need to beat the first boss to get the Keepsake collection, but by the time you're doing upgrades, that shouldn't be a problem. 

Passively completing Prophecies will help you unlock many other upgrades, and swapping Keepsakes lets you better control your rewards and prepare for bosses. While you're at it, you should also have the contractor add the Boon Codex Index, an indispensable list of all the boons you can get from each god. This is really handy if you're doing a super specific build that hinges on certain boons. You'll unlock this contractor job once you get the codex, which you can do by speaking to Achilles after a few runs. Oh, and did we mention…

3. Talk to everyone after every run 

Hades is primarily an action game, but it's also rich with story content and memorable characters. Talking to those characters can unlock essential abilities like the Codex, as well as new options for the Mirror of Night, so you should always hit up everyone in the underworld after each run. Even if you don't see a dialogue icon over their head, run up to them and have a quick chat if possible. You never know what they'll have to say. 

4. Give everyone at least one Nectar  

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

While you're talking to everyone, give them at least one of the orange Nectars you find while escaping. The first time you give somebody one of these – including gods, who you gift by chucking nectar into their boons before picking them up – they'll give you a new Keepsake. The more Keepsakes you have, the better, and the ones the gods give you are especially valuable since they let you control the types of boons you receive. We'd recommend gifting Hypnos, Cerberus, Eurydice (the special vendor in Asphodel), and all of the gods first, and then leveling up their Keepsakes by wearing them while completing encounters. Eurydice's Keepsake, in particular, is a godsend for boss fights, especially the final one. And without spoiling anything, something really cool might happen if you give the same person a whole bunch of Nectar. 

5. Know your special vendors 

Speaking of Eurydice: there are three special merchants of sorts in Hades, one for each primary underworld region. The special vendor in Tartarus is Sisyphus, and he'll give you some health, darkness, or gold. Eurydice in Asphodel will buff your current boons or improve the rarity of the next three boons you get. Finally, Patroclus in Elysium can refill your Death Defiance stock (or buff your Stubborn Defiance), give you a huge chunk of passive healing, or temporarily increase your attack damage. The benefits of visiting Sisyphus and Patroclus vary depending on how healthy you're feeling, but if you get the option, always go see Eurydice. Her boon rarity boost will dramatically increase the power of future abilities.  

6. Don't underestimate temporary buffs 

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

That being said, I don't want to sound like I'm ragging on Patroclus' temporary attack buff. It may not permanently upgrade your kit, but it can make your next 10 fights much easier and faster, especially boss fights. This is true of other temporary buffs, too. The trinkets at the Well of Charon only last for a few encounters, but they can make a gigantic difference in tougher fights or against bosses. Upping your attack, special, or cast damage is always nice, and for the right price, the Well of Charon can even heal you, raise your max health, give you more shards for your cast, or replenish your Death Defiance stock. For a bit of gold, that's not a bad deal. If you're near a boss fight and you're struggling a bit, or you've just got gold to burn, snag a few temporary items. They can be total life-savers.  

7. Grab these early Mirror of Night staples 

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

To round things out, we've got a few combat pointers, starting with the Mirror of Night. This is your main way of growing stronger outside of escape attempts, so you're going to spend a lot of time contemplating upgrades. For your first few hours, we suggest investing in the following buffs:

  • Shadow Presence: increased attack and special damage when hitting enemies from behind. A huge, flat damage bonus that's easy to utilize in most builds.
  • Greater Reflex: dodge twice back to back. There's no contest here; barring pixel perfect i-frames, dodging twice is essential for avoiding many attacks and hazards, especially in the final fight. 
  • Boiling Blood: deal 50% more attack and special damage to enemies with a Cast shard embedded in them. This provides another huge damage boost to single targets which is great in boss fights, provided you aren't a cast DPS build. 
  • Death Defiance: respawn at 50% life one time. You can stack up to three Death Defiance charges, and the first one is super cheap, so be sure to grab it early. If you lose your Death Defiance in the middle of a region, you may find that one of Charon's wells sells an item to recharge it for 200 gold. 

8. Don't be afraid to change your Mirror of Night bonuses 

While we do recommend investing in the abilities above, your Mirror of Night is just that – yours. You can change it whenever you want, either because you think other abilities would benefit specific weapons or play styles, or because you want to try something else. This is especially relevant once you unlock secondary abilities for the mirror (again, talk to everybody). It only costs one Chthonic Key to totally reset your mirror, so don't worry about locking yourself into a bad build or anything like that. As long as you have darkness to spend, you can experiment to your heart's content.  

9. Use your cast constantly

It's easy to get tunnel vision in Hades and focus on your attack, special, and dodge, but you should never neglect your cast ability. No matter what cast boon you have, your cast is just free damage, and if you have Boiling Blood active (which we almost always recommend), hitting an enemy or boss with your cast will greatly increase the damage they receive. This is super powerful against armored or tanky enemies, and even the weakest cast will add some damage to the mix, so don't just sit on your shards.  

10. Get a Call as soon as you can  

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

This last tip comes with a small disclaimer: you won't unlock Calls, ultimate abilities that charge up when you deal or take damage, for a few runs. But once you do, you should always aim to have a Call in your build. It doesn't necessarily need to be your first boon, but getting a Call early will pay huge dividends in the long run. Some Calls can clear a room on their own, and any Call is better than no Call. A single charge of a Call can make an encounter much easier, and a fully charged one can put some serious hurt on a boss. For an upgraded Call, we're talking about an 'outright kill a boss from half health' kind of hurt. If we're playing favorites, we highly recommend the Poseidon and Ares Calls for a potent mix of offense and defense.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.