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Hades was a sleeper hit when it was released in 2018, gaining adoration from both gamers and critics alike. This stunning indie title from Supergiant Games has it all! If you’re into your lore, Hades boasts a charming story and a world that becomes rich and alive the more you play. If you’re strictly here for gameplay well, you’ve got tight controls, tough decision-making, and a variety of weapons to suit any play style. Hades has a little something for everyone and comes with a soundtrack far better than it has any right to be.
It should come as no surprise then that Hades has fostered a huge Speedrunning community with over a thousand runners and counting. Competition is fierce, but with no single build towering above the rest, there is a dedicated push to tear this game apart and escape the underworld in the fastest time possible.
In this Hades Speedrun Guide, I’ll be going through everything you need to know to start speedrunning the game. Ultimately, for a casual speedrun, all you need is a timer, but I will also go through what you need to do if your aim is a spot on the Speedrun.com leader boards. Are you’re ready to leave the underworld in your dust? Let’s dive in!
Before You Begin
First off, you need to decide what category you want to run. Speedrun.com has a daunting selection of ways to run Hades, but the most popular is ‘Any Heat Unseeded’. Unseeded means your run will be random instead of a fixed layout and is the closest to the standard gameplay. There are 2 ways to run this category, Modded and Unmodded. Modded is exclusive to runners on PC and you can find a section in the FAQ explaining what that entails toward the end of the guide.
Most categories are timed using IGT (In-Game Time). IGT can be turned on in the Settings Menu and displays a handy timer in the top right corner of the screen. This is important as in this run, you’ll be abusing how Hades calculates time. If you’re submitting your run, you’ll need the RT (Real-Time) as well, but you can check this after recording. One vital thing to remember in the Any Heat Unseeded category is the Death/Victory screen of your previous run needs to be shown in your submission. It would be soul-destroying to have your best run be invalid because you missed this step, so PLEASE get into the habit of doing this!
Although not strictly required, having your Mirror of Night upgraded and Keepsakes unlocked will help tremendously if you’re shooting for the best times possible. These will take time to unlock so if you’re a PC player, you can download a completed Save File here: https://www.speedrun.com/hades/resources.
And finally, some speed runs can make beating a game easier as they skip parts of the game or make battles easier. That’s not the case with Hades, so make sure you have a few standard wins under your belt before you attempt a speedrun!
Core Mechanics Guide
Alright, you’re all set, and this is where it gets interesting. Hades is a unique title to speedrun and unlike something like Super Mario, a lot of the run is randomized. I can’t tell you what to do room by room, but I can tell you the best ways to approach the parts you can control. There’s no better place to start than Zagreus’s Chambers, so pause for some reflection in front of the Mirror of Night.
The Mirror Of Night
It will take many hours to fully upgrade the Mirror of Night, so if you’re missing a few of these, that’s fine. Once you’ve got a few runs under your belt, you’ll get your upgrades in no time! These are the most popular Speedrun settings for the Mirror of Night.
- Shadow Presence
- Chthonic Vitality
- Death Defiance
- Greater Reflex: The extra damage from Ruthless Reflex is nice but not worth it over an extra dash.
- Boiling Blood
- Infernal Soul: More Casts = More Damage.
- Deep Pockets
- Thick Skin or High Confidence: Both are great. Thick Skin gives you more health, but High Confidence gives a damage increase. Eventually, you’ll want High Confidence for the fastest times, but this is a Risk vs Reward choice.
- Family Favourite
- Dark Foresight
- God’s Legacy
- Fated Persuasion
- Choosing your Companion
One of the few consistent parts of a Hade’s Speedrun is your Companion. You will want to use Battie, and she is unlocked once you’ve reached a high level of trust with Megaera and gifted her Ambrosia.
Don’t let Batties’ cute appearance fool you. This ability summons Megaera who deals an incredible amount of damage to the area in front of you. This attack is powerful enough to cut even the most formidable foes down to size. You will want to save this for mini-bosses to make quick work of the encounter. Be sure to upgrade your Companion so you can use their abilities multiple times each run!
Choosing Your Keepsake
Your Keepsake is very important when you’re looking for specific Boons. You can use your Keepsake to get specific gods to appear and you can swap it out in between floors to suit your needs.
Picking your Weapon and Aspect
One of the best things about speedrunning Hades is the sheer amount of diversity, even at the highest level of competition. You can pick any weapon you want, but some Aspects are better than others when you’re trying to go fast. The most popular Aspects for Speedrunning each weapon are:
- Stygian Blade – Nemesis Aspect
- Eternal Spear – Achilles Aspect
- Shield of Chaos – Beowulf Aspect
- Heart Seeking Bow – Hera Aspect
- Twin Fists – Demeter Aspect
- Adamant Rail – Eris Aspect
Both the Demeter Fists and Eris Rail are not only powerful, they are both solid beginner choices with play styles that feel intuitive and are easy to understand.
The Pact of Punishment
The keen-eyed among you may have noticed the name of the Speedrun Category is ‘Any Heat’ instead of ‘No Heat’. Surely Heat just makes the game harder, right? Well, it does! But there are a couple of modifiers you will want to turn on as they will help you go faster.
You can crank this up to 2 to speed up the Bone Hydra fight. Doing this brings the heads closer together so you can hit them all faster, but it also makes the arena smaller. Extreme Measures make fighting our old pal Lernie much tougher and will take some practice.
Turning this up makes enemies spawn in faster. This can be overwhelming at first, but ultimately, the quicker enemies show up, the quicker you can beat them and move on.
The Underworld Isn’t As Random As You Think
Each area in the game has a set amount of rooms followed by the end shop and then the Boss. The starting area Tartarus has the most rooms with 12, Asphodel has 6 and Elysium has 8. Styx is different as you can’t progress until you’ve found the Satyr Sack for Cerberus to munch on. In Styx, prioritize the routes ending with mini-bosses. they are tougher but faster if you can burn the boss down quickly. You will always need to do at least 2 routes in Styx before you find the Satyr Sack.
Rooms To Prioritize
Rooms with Boons are the foundation every single run is built on, but there are high-value rooms you should go to instead when you have the chance:
Charons Shop: Even if you can’t afford anything. You can run straight through the shop, saving a ton of time.
Mid Boss: Enemies in this room will be tougher, but there will be fewer of them. On average, these encounters will be faster than normal.
Chaos Gates: These are tiny rooms that are fast to get through and Chaos Boons can be incredibly powerful. You’ll always want to check Wells of Charon when you find them, as you can sometimes buy a Light of Ixion from them. The Light of Ixion will guarantee a Chaos Gate will appear in the next room if possible.
Story Rooms: Sisyphus, Eurydice, and Patrocles are always worth visiting as IGT is frozen in their chambers.
And finally, 2 random rooms that are completely out of your control are the Trial and Thanatos rooms. These are fantastic for your speed run as IGT is frozen for both.
Getting The Boons You Need
Your Keepsake is an important tool, as you can pick what God will appear first. There is one crucial thing to remember here, once you have taken Boons from 4 different Gods, those Gods are all you will see for the rest of the run. Keep a mental note of how many you’ve seen and make sure there’s room for the ones you need! Chaos and Hermes are not a part of this limit, so you can use them freely.
Poms of Power
Sometimes you will have tough decisions to make with no real right answer. Poms of Power can be a part of those decisions and they are great for increasing your overall attack power and your ability to clear rooms quickly. If you skip too many of these during a run, you can feel very underpowered on the later floors.
These powerful objects can completely change how a build is played (turning the Eris Rail Special attack from a mortar to a rocket launcher for example) and you should always consider them when they show up.
The Power of Pausing
In Hades, pausing the game pauses the IGT. This comes in handy when you’re trying to put a build together. Get into the habit of pausing when you’ve cleared a room so you can take time to decide what’s next. With practice, you will do this less, but the Pause button is a tool, use it!
Even the Enemies Aren’t Random…
This is one I would encourage you not to worry about at first, but you should know about it. Enemies spawn in waves, but they usually do that close to you and not miles off-screen. If you hug a wall or stand near doors, you can kind of manipulate the enemy spawns so you have less distance to travel when you’ve cleared the room.
Building The Perfect Run
If I had to pick the toughest part of running Hades, it would be building a run as it unfolds. There are lots of decisions to make every time you step into Tartarus, and one wrong decision can ruin everything. This is a mighty topic, so I will go over some popular builds and at the very least, you will leave here with a decent understanding of how they work. Aim to get as close to these as you can, but don’t expect to get everything you need every run.
The Rail with the Eris Aspect has a simple gameplay loop making it perfect for beginners. Shoot until you need to reload, fire your Special Attack, dash underneath it when it lands for a damage boost, rinse and repeat. Your ideal starting boons are Zeus’s Lightning Strike for a significant attack boost along with Static Discharge. Tidal Dash from Poseidon is amazing for a lot of builds and is no exception here. Deadly Flourish from Artemis is fantastic and gives your Special attack more bite. Rocket Bomb from the Daedalus Hammer is incredible and if you’re lucky enough to find Cluster Bomb to go with it almost nothing will stand in your way.
The Stygian Blade with the Nemesis Aspect is perfect if you enjoy your combat up close and personal. Your Special Attack activates a 3-second damage buff (you can see sparkles above Zagreus when the buff is live) and you want to Dash Strike into enemies whilst the buff is active. Poseidon’s Tidal Dash is essential to this build so start with Poseidon’s Keepsake. Heartbreak Strike from Aphrodite or Deadly Strike from Artemis is great boosts, along with Hunters Mark, also from Artemis. Lunge from Chaos will increase your Dash Strikes damage even further.
The Eternal Spear with the Achilles Aspect can feel a little awkward at first, but dishes out substantial damage up close and afar. There are a few ways you can set this up, but I will cover a Zeus build. Poseidon’s Tidal Dash is, once again, the dash of choice. The rest of the Boons are from Zeus, Lightning Strike and Static Discharge work well together, and Splitting Bolt further enhances all lightning abilities. Zeus’ Aid is a solid Call for the build as well. The Daedalus Hammer upgrade Flurry Jab is essential for this weapon to shine.
The Heart Seeking Bow with the Hera Aspect lets you load your Casts into your bow for ridiculously powerful shots. Crush Shot from Aphrodite is the boon this entire build works around. Demeter’s Snowburst and Ravenous Will both buff your Casts even further. Finally, the Artemis and Poseidon Duo Boon Mirage Shot, along with Flurry Shot from a Daedalus Hammer, can send this build into the stratosphere.
The Shield of Chaos with the Beowulf Aspect will take time to get used to but is the undisputed king of splash damage. With this Aspect, you’re able to unleash incredibly powerful attacks by loading your Casts into your weapon. Passion Flare from Aphrodite or Flood Flare from Poseidon is both great starting options for your Cast. Passion Flare is the stronger of the 2, but it will make it harder to find Mirage Shot, a powerful Duo boon from Artemis and Poseidon later on. Deadly Strike or Deadly Flourish are both great Boons to get from Artemis and will help with getting Mirage Shot to appear.
The last build in this guide is for the Twin Fists with the Demeter Aspect, but as it has such a brutal assortment of Boons, other weapons can use it too. Divine Dash and Divine Flourish from Athena add Deflect to your Dash and Special whilst Ares’ Curse of Agony adds Doom damage to your attacks. Next, you’re looking for the namesake of this build, the Merciful End Duo boon from Ares and Athena which adds Doom damage to all the deflecting you’re able to do! Breaching Cross or Rolling Knuckle are great Daedalus Hammer upgrades for the Demeter Fists as they give your Dash Attack an enormous boost. It can be a little tricky to get Merciful End to appear, but this is a solid beginner build as once you get all the Boons, you’re rather difficult to kill!
Things We Wish We Knew Day One
Mirror of Night and Aspect Upgrades are Very Important
Fully upgrading your Mirror of Night and Weapon Aspects will take many hours, and you can’t realistically compete at the highest level without them. You can still learn how to use your build without everything though and eventually, the upgrades will come.
You Can’t Win Them All
You can play the best you’ve ever played and end up with a terrible time because you didn’t find the Boons you needed. There is a ton of skill in speedrunning Hades, but you need to be prepared to lose some runs to bad luck.
Long-term Goals to Consider
There are stories about Speedrunners spending weeks, months, and even years to shave seconds off of a run, but the best part about speedrunning is that doesn’t have to be you! Unless you’re shooting for the World Record, set yourself reasonable goals and enjoy the process. Beating your own Personal Best time is always a great goal to shoot for and once you feel you’ve peaked, watch top-rated runs and see what you can incorporate into your own. Speedrunning is all about beating a game as fast as possible, but getting that good is a marathon, not a sprint!
As mentioned in the Weapons and Aspects part of the guide, if you’re up for a dive into the nuances of each build you can find that information at the link below. A lot of these weapon-specific guides are written by some of the best Hades Speedrunners on the planet! https://www.speedrun.com/hades/guide/1i726#ch2_Weapon_Aspect_specific
For you PC gamers out there, a completed Save File for Hades and the pack for Modded runs can be found here: https://www.speedrun.com/hades/resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can I Speedrun Hades on Any Platform?
Answer: Yes, you can! The most popular platform to play on is PC, but you can speedrun on anything, even the Nintendo Switch if you want to go portable.
Question: What is the Best Weapon to Start With?
Answer: I would recommend you choose your favorite because if you don’t enjoy the Weapon, you won’t enjoy the run. If you want help with that choice, the Rail with the Eris Aspect is superb and will force you to play aggressively.
Question: What is a Good Speedrun Time for Hades?
Answer: 15mins IGT is great but if you can break 7mins IGT, that will place you comfortably in the top 100 runs for Hades.
Question: What is the Current World Record?
Answer: At the time of writing, the World Record is held by a runner called Croven with a mind-blowing 5mins 16seconds IGT. They achieved this incredible run using the Bow with the Hera Aspect.
Question: I Don’t Want to Upgrade my Mirror or Weapons, can I Still Compete?
Answer: Yes, you can. There is a Speedrun Category called ‘Fresh File’ where you start the timer as soon as you start a new file and stop when you defeat Hades. Deaths are allowed and runs are recorded using Real-Time.
Question: What is a Modded Run?
Answer: The moderators over at Speedrun.com have created a mod pack that removes some randomness to runs without affecting the skill involved. This pack also adds a ‘Quick Reset’ button in case things aren’t going your way. If you’d like to try a Modded run, the link to the pack is in the ‘Useful Resources’ section above.