Nearly three years since Hades was released, crowned IGN’s own Game of the Year in 2020, and after thousands of hours played by individual members of its hardcore community, no one had beaten the toughest challenge the game had to offer: a “Max Heat Run.”

Many Hades players are unlikely to ever interact with its Pact of Punishment system at all, which only becomes available after the player’s first successful run. It allows players to self-impose additional difficulty to an already challenging roguelite by selecting things like giving all enemies more health and removing reward choices found at the end of most encounters. And by electing to turn up the system’s “Heat Gauge” in specific ways, additional rewards can be unlocked, extending the longevity for those who are looking for excuses to continue hanging out with Zagreus and friends.

A “Max Heat Run,” with the Heat Gauge turned up as high as it will go, was quite literally never designed to be beaten, and considered unthinkable by even the most seasoned veterans. Unthinkable, that is, until this week, when expert Hades player and content creator AngeL1C decided to give it a try and had unfathomably good luck (combined with some truly unbelievable skills).

“Is It Reasonable? Absolutely Not”

AngeL1C, who’s largely considered one of the best Hades players in the world, explained to IGN exactly why her feat seemed so far fetched until just recently:

“Hades’ pact system allows you to personalize the way you want the game to become harder. Pairing certain ones together can lead to extremely difficult runs even at low difficulty totals, so naturally when you turn everything up you’re asking for a bad time.”

By “turn everything up,” AngeL1C is referring to runs where the player turns on every single one of the Pact of Punishment’s disadvantages to a maximum of 64 Heat. Given that players can earn more than enough rewards to collect everything Hades has to offer without ever approaching anywhere close to maximum Heat, players have no incentive to put themselves through that kind of pain. But that hasn’t stopped the small, but passionate “High Heat” community from sharing tips and swapping war stories in their Discord server.

“The developers never balanced this system past heat 40. You are absolutely not supposed to be able to come close to beating this, EVER,” AngeL1C explained. “Everything from more challenging bosses, there being different forms and new phases entirely, to your entire ability to heal (aside from max health hearts) being removed entirely. Other examples such as the mirror of night being disabled (where you spend darkness points to become stronger) and 100% more damage afflicted to you meant that the window for success is extremely small.”

In fact, that window was so small that many in the community assumed it could never be done. A little over a week ago, a popular Hades content creator called Haelian posted a 15-minute video titled “Why No One Has Beaten the Max Heat in Hades or Probably Ever Will.” In the video, Haelian breaks down in excruciating detail, precisely why that accomplishment is so darn difficult.

It largely comes down to math. Because a max Heat run throws so much difficulty at you, a very specific loadout is required to even stand a chance at overcoming it, and because several of the Heat disadvantages relate to limited your reward options, you basically have to get extremely lucky.

Haelian provides the exact numbers in his video, saying, “With only some of the factors calculated in, the odds of getting a run that is even plausible is about 0.0147% or 1-in-6,802 attempts. Even if you only use the 45 seconds to reset in chamber one, as an example, that’s one plausible run every 85 hours worth of attempts. Is it possible? Yes. Is it reasonable? Absolutely not.”

For precisely this reason, most of the High Heat community has turned to mods that control against some of the random variables, including AngeL1C.

“The main effort of modding was to remove so-called “toxic RNG” in order to make skill expression more prevalent,” she explained. “First boon blessing and hammer are fixed, minibosses are standardized (the worst options taken out, like the barge of death, Asterius in elysium, and the tiny vermin). You have a visual indication of where the fountain room is on exits, and getting the satyr sack is guaranteed in 2 chambers. With all that, it still took me a huge amount of time to clear even with those.”

Obviously, if skilled players can control against random variables and save themselves countless lost hours hoping the stars will align, there’s little reason to even try to achieve an unmodded, unseeded Max Heat Run, which made the feat seem all the more unlikely. That is, until just eight days after Haelian posted his video, when AngeL1C, who had herself contributed footage and helped gather information for that video, decided to try her hand at it.

More Like Max Beat

After only 20 minutes of trying to get the perfect series of drops, Angel1C’s “God run” came together. Astonishingly, she beat it just 30 minutes later. The video documenting that most unlikely of runs was posted on her YouTube channel, which at the time of this writing is approaching 300K views in the one day since it was published, and contains some insane nail biting moments where it looked like she would fall prey to the many, many ways such a demanding run could fail.

“I had the timer encroaching, no acorn charges (your 5-hit shield for boss fights), low health (essentially anything kills you in one hit). I got hit down to less than 30 health before barely managing to clear,” AngeL1C explained. “My only regret is turning off my microphone in the recording software. You have no idea how hard I popped off.”

Shortly after AngeL1C’s video went live, Haelian posted a reaction to her unbelievable feat in utter shock.

“Of course, it had to be exactly one week after I made a video saying no one would ever do it,” Haelian said with a laugh. “I honestly thought this would never happen, cause I didn’t think you’d have someone out there with the known capability to be able to do it who was going to even bother to attempt it.”

For AngeL1C’s part, she seemed giddy when she told IGN about her future Hades plans. “This feels like completion to me. I have other goals, but they are all far minor and I really doubt I’ll have the motivation to grind them out.”

Instead, it seems like she’ll focus on some of her other speedrunning passions like Metal Gear Rising and Furi, the latter of which she recently snagged the 25th spot on the leaderboard for.

But Hades will always have a place in her heart, especially as she awaits the upcoming sequel that she’s eager to check out. “Honestly, my love for this game knows no bounds. I really just appreciate almost everything about it.”

Travis Northup is a freelance writer at IGN.

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