Not too long ago, Steam held a sale for the four Supergiant Games titles, Pyre, Hades, Bastion, and Transistor, that I couldn’t ignore. I am already a massive fan of Hades and have endured over 200 underworld escape attempts as I pored over the charming story. Considering that, it was a no-brainer that I needed to buy everything this developer offers, especially if all that is a little under ten dollars.
So, I started my Supergiant Games journey with Pyre since I didn’t have a direction, and it was the first of the three to install (I already had Hades installed before). After having started it up, it’s interesting to see the things that later became a staple in the developer’s later titles. The art style and writing for the characters are unmistakably Supergiant, and the 3D playable characters and NPCs felt familiar and unique.
One of the biggest things that I noticed is that Pyre’s style of game, which could very well be a sort of arcade soccer, is not up my alley. However, the developers made it a fun experience, leaving me wanting another match just as one ends. I didn’t know it then, but I had also experienced this during my time playing Hades when it initially launched. I don’t like roguelike games, so why am I enjoying Hades as much as I am?
In the end, Pyre became something I needed to be in the mood to play, so I jumped into Bastion. While Bastion is a bit of a simple platformer, that made it more beautiful and unique than all the games that came after it. Soon after gathering cores and shards to better my Bastion, I flipped between Bastion and Pyre to get my gaming fix. My girlfriend was the one that pointed out that I was only playing Supergiant games for about a week straight. It was then that I knew what I needed to do: add Transistor and Hades to the mix.
Each Game Is So Different, But So Familiar
One of the things I was able to pinpoint about all four of Supergiant’s current library of titles was a sort of pattern. This pattern includes utilizing the same gameplay experiences that their fans have grown to love across each title. While this isn’t a perfect observation, the art style of the characters in their speech windows, the songs having no lyrics until more pressing and important moments, the 3D effect that their playable and moving characters take on, and the idea of an omniscient being that narrates or speaks over the characters, are all things that each game embodies. To me, these elements combined provided me with a sense of familiarity between each game that makes them fun from the very beginning.
This familiarity was much needed since, as I mentioned before, I do not prefer rouge-lite and sports-type games. This was especially important as I began to tire of the gameplay sessions. If and when this happens, I would switch to a different Supergiant title and immediately be able to dive in without any issues. Once I began to tire of whatever that game was, I would switch back to the previous game with renewed energy.
Perfect Gameplay Versus Story Progression
The four titles each have another thing in common that I value in games: story progression and gameplay learning being continuous and parallel. By this, I mean that no matter how far you progress, there are still things to learn and understand. In each game, whether via a new weapon, new area, or a new character, you were still expected to learn new things concerning gameplay if you wanted to move forward. In many cases, including Hades and Pyre specifically, using different weapons and learning new abilities would immediately invoke a quick lesson that taught you how to use it.
I prefer this to learning everything from the beginning through an integrated or separate tutorial because otherwise, gameplay becomes repetitive and stagnant. I love being introduced to a new character mid-game with abilities I can use in a completely new and different way. This organization of teaching the player refreshes the game while never imposing on the story’s progression, so it doesn’t feel like moving forward doesn’t just reward you by getting closer to the end.
Something else I noticed about all the Supergiant games was their commitment to accessibility and ensuring that regardless of the player’s skill level. Different in-game options helped grant you more defense, more attacks, or just made things more accessible overall. They made game sessions even more attractive across each game because I knew I would only spend a little time trying and retrying levels and areas. Of course, you could also challenge yourself with various add-ons.
The games also had a wide variety of different options for weapons and abilities, making it so that you could play the way you felt most comfortable. Few games provide players with different ways to play, so it was refreshing to know that I could change weapons, switch something out, or even change the good, old-fashioned difficulty to create the perfect gameplay experience for myself.
Supergiant Games Has Grown to Be One of My Favorite Developers
Supergiant Games has become one of my favorite developers between all four games and the upcoming Hades II. The entire team offers such unique experiences across all of their titles that it’s hard not to see how addictive and replayable most of them are. As I mentioned, I went through a couple of hundred runs of Hades, which is only a fraction of the amount more hardcore players have in their books.
I only look forward to their upcoming announcements and hope that they grow more from title to title.