In Hades, you are Zagreus, an extremely obscure figure from Greek mythology who was the son of Hades and also somehow secretly Dionysus. Except, in the game Hades they drop the second half, you’re just Hades’ son, and you’ve decided to bust out of Hell and into the surface world to find your mother Persephone, who’s departed the underworld. Presumably bringing eternal spring to the surface, I guess? I dunno, I haven’t actually beaten the game and met Persephone yet, and I don’t know if the game addresses it.
Hades is a Roguelike, where every time you die, you are washed down the River Styx back into the House of Hades. Since you’re Hades’ son, from there you can walk into your old bedroom, jump out the window, and bam, you’re back where you were at the start of the game, at the very beginning of the long road out of the underworld.
I’ve talked a lot about good vs. bad openings, mainly in relation to Assassin’s Creed games, which are miserably long to get going. They’re lucky they hooked me in the first game when I didn’t have this problem, or I never would’ve developed the attachment to their open world games that’s compelled me to seek closure on their stagnant quality rather than just walking away immediately. Hades is an example of an opening done right. When you first boot up the game, you probably have a vague idea of what it’s about from osmosis, so odds are you know the basic premise, which the game tosses you into immediately and without explanation. If you don’t, your very first pickup comes with a message from Athena saying that the Olympian gods are gonna help you bust outta there, which establishes in under thirty seconds the setting and your goal. It’s not until you die for the first time (or maybe until you reach the first boss, if you’re able to get that far on your first run) that you get tossed back to the House of Hades to talk with Hypnos, Achilles, Nyx, and Hades himself.
Imagine if the Assassin’s Creed guys were put in charge of this game (specifically Assassin’s Creed, too, WATCH_DOGS and Far Cry aren’t as streamlined as Hades, but they usually contain themselves to just the one prologue like a regular video game, not like Assassin’s Creed, which regularly indulges in two and has had four in the past). The flashback scenes you unlock later in the game where you get fired from your miserable job in Hades’ accounting department and then go snooping through his files at night to discover your mother is Persephone, and not, as Zagreus had been told, Nyx, the goddess of the night, those two scenes would be at the beginning of the game, in order. There would be a scene where Achilles does some sparring with you to establish how Zagreus learned to fight, and a conversation with Nyx that establishes that she is using her powers to keep Zagreus’ movements hidden from Hades. There would be at least one scene with both Thanatos, god of death, and Megaera, the least insane of the three furies, to establish Zagreus’ romantic history with both of them. The sparring with Achilles would probably include a combat tutorial to keep the player awake, and there might be a fight with Megaera at some point while establishing her history with Zagreus, for the same reason, but it would be like two hours before you got to the actual Roguelike gameplay where you’re busting out of Tartarus.