Please be aware that this article contains spoilers for the game. Proceed at your own risk.
My first impression of Zagreus was that he was snarky and quick-witted, who had a minor fear of his father’s wrath but not enough self-preservation instincts to listen to that fear. As I continued to play through the game, I gradually fell in love with the character and his motivations, determined to see the game through to the end.
He is a highly loveable character with motivations most people can easily connect with. Zagreus is the perfect character for his environment, especially when the game hinges on you being motivated to see his goals through until the very end. Welcome to a Hades Zagreus Guide.
- Character Type: Protagonist and the only playable character.
- Difficulty: Varies depending on skill level; easier when playing on God Mode.
- Starting Weapon: Stygius, the Blade of the Underworld.
- First Meeting: You first meet Zagreus when he is plummeting out of his balcony window for the first escape attempt.
- Personality: Zagreus is locked and loaded with sarcasm and a sharp wit. He is often self-deprecating and humble but keeps a jovial nature when interacting with other Hades characters. He is generally respectful unless faced with his father.
- Skills: You have specific types of attack, namely Dash, Dash-Attack, Attack, Special, Cast, and Call.
Zagreus was born the son of Hades and raised by Nyx. We learn through a flashback that Zagreus is not Nyx’s son, as he so believed. He is, in fact, the son of Persephone, a Goddess who fled the Underworld shortly after his birth.
Determined to find his birth mother, Zagreus escapes the Underworld to the outside, a world he had never encountered beyond stories. No matter how many deaths it takes, Zagreus is determined to convince his mother to return home, at least for a little bit. Even when Persephone herself tells him to not come back, Zagreus persists.
Along the way, Zagreus is aided by his caretaker Nyx and his mentor Achilles. The Olympians offer their boons to him when they can, their efforts aided and abetted by Hermes. When possible, those throughout the Underworld attempt to offer Zagreus aid, namely Charon, Sisyphus, Eurydice, and Patroclus.
Standing next to Hades, it’s easy to say that Zagreus is very short, but it is true. While it can be challenging to determine height in the game considering the perspective you play at, Zagreus is undoubtedly a short king.
He’s smaller than most of the other characters in the game, including Persephone. The only character definitively small in stature than Zagreus is Dusa. Aside from height, Zagreus has heterochromia, with one red eye inherited from Hades and one green eye inherited from Persephone.
Another striking characteristic is his perpetually burning feet, leaving smoldering trails and embers behind him, scorch marks scarring the ground whenever you dash.
When fighting your way through each Underworld biome, you have a few actions and abilities, though the way that some of them function changes depending on the weapon you have equipped.
For abilities outside of battle, like picking things up or speaking with the characters, you will usually receive a prompt for which button you should use.
Your button or key to Dash will vary depending on hardware, but the action remains the same. Zagreus darts a short distance on the map, leaving a smoldering trail of embers and scorch marks in his wake.
This move is very tempting and easy to use over and over again, but that can easily be any player’s downfall in Asphodel. I lose more health from darting into lava over and over again than I do from the actual enemies.
Attack and Specials
Zagreus has two main attack modes: boasting the ever-simple Attack and his Special. Both of these moves can vary widely depending on what Infernal Arm you have equipped, but the basic breakdown is that the Attack will generally do less damage than your Special.
Specials require more time to perform, but the payoff is usually worth it. I would argue that the most useful Infernal Arm all around, however, with a strong attack and a fast special, is likely Aegis, the Shield of Chaos.
Not only does Aegis defend you from frontal attacks while your special charges, but if you equip the Aspect of Chaos when you throw your shield afterward, three shields are thrown instead of one.
Depending on what deity’s boon you have, your Cast can differ. No matter what, your Cast consists of Zagreus throwing bloodstone or Cast Ammo at his enemies. By default, your Cast will deal 50 damage once it sticks to your enemies, only dropping once they are slain.
You start with one Cast, but by upgrading through the Mirror of Night, you can get up to three Cast Ammo when using the Infernal Soul upgrade. When using Stygian Soul, you have one Cast Ammo that regenerates every 3-5 seconds.
Personally, I use the Infernal Soul upgrade. Only three deities will cause your Cast to become a projectile weapon instead; Ares, Demeter, and Dionysus.
Call is likely one of the most shifting mechanics in Hades. This feature is only available if you can call on a deity, and each deity provides Zagreus with a different effect for their aid. This feature is obtained by taking it through a deity’s boon unless you have Sigil of the Dead. This feature doesn’t directly impact your weapon.
Aphrodite’s Call will fire off a projectile that inflicts Charm on your enemies, which causes them to begin attacking each other rather than you. At a full gauge, the projective will inflict a bonus of 2500 damage. The duration varies depending on Rarity, starting at 5 seconds before reaching 6.5 seconds at the Heroic Rarity.
Calling upon Ares will turn you into an Impervious Blade Rift for 1.2 seconds. At a full gauge, you will gain a bonus of 6 seconds. The damage varies depending on the Rarity of the Boon, starting at 30 damage and reaching up to 53 damage for a Heroic Rarity.
Your Call fires a seeking arrow with a 35% chance of a critical. This arrow is unblockable by shield-bearing foes and costs 1/5th of the God Gauge. The damage varies based on the Rarity, starting at 100 before reaching 130 per arrow at the Heroic Rarity. At a full gauge, you fire 10 Arrows.
Your Call briefly makes you Invulnerable and deflects all attacks. The duration varies depending on Rarity, starting at 1.5 seconds before reaching 1.95 seconds at the Heroic Rarity. A max gauge increases the duration by 6 times.
Your Call creates a Winter Vortex for 5 seconds, dealing damage every 1/4 second and inflicting Chill. The damage ranges depending on the Rarity, starting at 10 before maxing out at 13 damage at the Heroic Rarity. At a max gauge, the duration increases to 10 seconds.
Your Call inflicts Hangover on all the foes around you for 1.5 seconds. Hangover deals continuous damage to afflicted enemies every half second. The damage ranges from 15 at the common Rarity up to 19.5 at the Heroic Rarity. The max gauge bonus increases your Call to have a 9-second duration.
Your Call makes you surge into foes while you are Impervious for 1.2 seconds. The impact damage from your surge ranges from 250 at the Common Rarity up to 400 damage at the Heroic Rarity. A max gauge bonus raises the duration up to 7.2 seconds.
Your Call makes lightning strike nearby foes repeatedly for 1.5 seconds. The damage starts at 50 for the Common Rarity and increases to 65 per strike for the Heroic Rarity. A max guage bonus raises it to a 9-second duration.
You must have Sigil of the Dead to have Hades’ aid during battle and call upon his power. You can obtain this by gifting him two Nectars. Equipping Sigil of the Dead allows your God Gauge to start out 10% complete unless you have ranked the Keepsake up. Your God Gauge starts at 20% at rank two, and at rank three, it starts at 30%.
Calling upon Hades’ aid allows Zagreus to go invisible for a few moments. Zagreus will temporarily become Unseen instead of invisible at a full gauge. Being Unseen allows for Zagreus to move faster and deal bonus damage for five seconds, and as a bonus, he can’t be targeted during this period.
You can have Sigil of the Dead equipped when you go in for the final fight against Hades but be warned, it may not always function right. When you first arrive at the battle against Hades with the Sigil Equipped, you get some unique and snarky dialogue exchanged between father and son in which Zagreus proves just as amusing as always, commenting, “If only everybody knew you had a mighty son most capable of cutting you down to size, with or without the ability to vanish suddenly.”
Hades retorts, saying, “A very boastful sun, who often thinks too much of his ability. Come, then! I’ll make you vanish suddenly.”
During the fight itself, you can call upon your father’s aid, shouting “Father!” at which Hades yells back various short lines of dialogue, my favorites being “What?!”, “Yes, I hear you fine!”, “Son!” and “Oh, shut up!” before you go invisible. However, there is apparently a very small chance that you may not go invisible but still lose your filled God Gauge.
One of the critical aspects of the game is building relationships with the Characters, further Zagreus along with the storyline to bring his mother home and in helping those around Zagreus find peace and happiness.
Due to Zagreus’s good-willed nature, he is inclined to help his friends, and even his father, find joy again through gifts of Nectar, Ambrosia, and completing character-specific quests.
Related read: Hades Ambrosia Guide.
There are several characters that Zagreus technically interacts with that he cannot form an actual bond with. These characters will not appear in the House of Hades, nor can they be gifted anything.
During their fights, they may exchange some conversations with Zagreus, but their relationship never goes further than that.
Alecto and Tisiphone
These two are Megaera’s Fury Sisters, both of which have been banned from entering the House of Hades. Alecto is a sadistic Fury who delights in spilling Zagreus’ blood. Tisiphone is a fearsome Fury whose primary responsibility is to torment murderers.
Zagreus can share some conversation with them, but not much beyond that. You can fight either of them in place of Megaera as the Tartarus final fight after enough runs.
Bone Hydra – Lernie
The name Lernie is derived from Lernaean Hydra, the Bone Hydra’s original name. Fondly referred to as Lernie by Zagreus, the Bone Hydra is your final encounter in Asphodel.
Any one of its heads can be the final boss, but you will end up fighting all of them throughout the battle. When the final one takes on its shield, the others crop up from the Phlegethon River to take Zagreus on.
Theseus and Asterius
Zagreus fights these two in the Elysium final fight, though there is a chance to encounter Asterius before the last Elysium fight as a mini-boss. The Prince of the Underworld has a much more friendly relationship with Asterius than with Theseus, the latter being extraordinarily boastful and competitive with Zagreus.
There are many Key Relationships that Zagreus can form throughout the entirety of the game, each one fostered by gifts of Nectar and Ambrosia. These relationships can eventually lead to Zagreus gaining a quest as he attempts to grant them happiness once again by fulfilling their storyline, frequently reuniting characters.
Zagreus has a bitter relationship with Hades, often leading to conflict and strife between the two. Zagreus often feels as though his father has treated him poorly throughout his life, but after Persephone’s return, the two eventually come to an understanding.
Hades gives Zagreus the official job of testing the security of the Underworld by constantly performing escape attempts. At the end of the game, you slowly see their relationship improving.
In their final fight, you begin to get dialogue where the two show respect for each other in-between the comedic mocking. However, Hades has a long way to go before he can earn Zagreus’ forgiveness. Fortunately, they have their entire immortal lives.
For most of Zagreus’ life, he did not know about Persephone’s existence or her relationship to him. When he learned of her existence, Zagreus began to relentlessly attempt escape in search of his mother.
Having believed that Zagreus had died at birth, Persephone had fled in her grief. Once they finally meet, the two connect almost immediately, and eventually, Zagreus manages to convince Persephone to return to the Underworld.
For most of Zagreus’ life, he believed that Nyx was his birth mother. Although not his biological mother, Zagreus remains on fond terms with Nyx. She fully supports him and organizes his contact with the Olympians to aid in his escape attempts.
Later on down the line, Zagreus learns that it was due to Nyx pulling favors with her daughters, the Fates, that allowed him to be revived after he died at birth. Zagreus can reunite Nyx with Chaos if you wish to play through both hers and Chaos’ storylines to the end.
Zagreus’ beloved pet and best friend. Cerberus is very affectionate toward Zagreus and often mourns when the young prince leaves the House to escape.
Achilles is Zagreus’ mentor, having taught him how to fight and tutoring him throughout his childhood and adulthood. He supports Zagreus through and through, even if it goes against Hades’ wishes. He expresses great pride in Zagreus’ progress and constantly encourages him.
Eventually, you can have the option to reunite Achilles with his former love, Patroclus, in Elysium. To do so, you need to foster a relationship with Patroclus, gifting him Nectar or Ambrosia whenever you cross his path.
The only Fury still allowed in the House of Hades, Zagreus and Megaera have some past history. Starting aloof and hostile toward the prince, eventually, Megaera begins to warm back up to Zagreus, and there is an opportunity to rekindle their romance.
Childhood friends with Zagreus, the two were both raised by Nyx. Initially very hurt by Zagreus’ attempts to escape the Underworld, Thanatos helps his friend regardless. The two share a strong bond that only strengthens throughout the game.
Eventually, there is an opportunity to form a romantic relationship with Thanatos. If both Thanatos and Megaera are romanced, there is an opportunity to form a throuple at some point in the game.
The floating gorgon head maid in the House of Hades is initially very nervous around Zagreus due to their difference in status. She frequently becomes flustered around him and finds excuses to fly away.
Nyx initially disapproves of their friendship and Dusa’s frequent overworking of herself and fires the Gorgon. But after Zagreus intervenes, she rescinds the decision. Dusa and Zagreus remain only good friends at the end of the story.
Zagreus is fond of the court musician and grows upset when Hades sends him to Tartarus for refusing to sing. You can return Orpheus to the House of Hades by lightening the terms of his contract and eventually can reunite him and Eurydice, leading to Orpheus singing once more.
To do so, you do need to befriend Eurydice. Zagreus frequently tells Orpheus tall tales that the musician often takes as fact.
The primordial deity from which just about everything spawned, Chaos, exists in the Primordial Void. Zagreus holds great respect for Chaos, and in turn, Chaos is fond of Zagreus, often aiding him in his goal. Eventually, you can reunite Chaos with Nyx.
Most of the Olympians seem to sympathize with Zagreus’ plight, helping him to escape in an attempt to have him join them up on Olympus. Little do they know that Zagreus can only remain out of the Underworld for short periods.
For most of the game, they are unaware that Zagreus is actually searching for Persephone, believing that he is instead attempting to join them. Often times they will offer him a friendly chat.
After learning of his intent to find Persephone, they continue to provide Zagreus aid and good-natured conversation.
Asterius frequently refers to Zagreus as “short one” during their fights, and at one point, you can get a humorous line of dialogue from Zagreus.
“You know, you hurt me with this “short one” business almost as much as with that axe. Why isn’t Thesus “short one”? We’re the same height!”
After your fight with Charon, you get a prophecy that dares you to beat Charon back-to-back in two successive runs. This prophecy is given to you by Hermes, and if you successfully complete it, you get a reward and another snarky line of dialogue (and yes, I did write it letter for letter).
“Got you, mate! Twice in a row. I guess Hermes wins his little wager with you, then. You tell him I said hrrrrrnnnggghh!”
Once you begin to fight the other Fury sisters and encounter Tisiphone, Zagreus starts to try and teach her to say his name instead of murderer during each of their encounters. Once she finally says it, paired right alongside her usual murderer, he says this:
“No. Wait. Just the first part. No murderer. Just Zagreus. Or… let’s see, how about happy? Can you say happy?”
There is a variety of dialogue you can share with Lernie throughout the game, but my personal favorite would have to be one of the following:
“I know you’ve missed me, Lernie, and I’ve missed you too,” or, “I’ve longed to hear the sound of your hiss, Lernie.”
Question: Why does Zagreus have burning feet?
Answer: They’re inherited from Hades. In the rare moments where Hades is shown standing after returning to the House, you can also see that his feet burn. You can see his burning feet during the final sequence, but in all honesty, I don’t think most of us would have been focused on the Lord of the Underworld’s feet while he tries to slaughter us.
Question: What is Zagreus the God of?
Answer: Despite his constant insistence that he isn’t the God of anything, his mentor and friend Achilles believes otherwise. Achilles theorizes that Zagreus might be the God of blood and, by extension, a God of life. However, this remains only a theory, and fans still debate it. Even the Zagreus in myths is still highly discussed for what he is the God over since very little is known about him.
Question: How does Zagreus learn to play the lyre?
Answer: A lot of runs and a lot of patience. After buying the lyre, you must interact with it many times. Throughout the process, new dialogue becomes available with Orpheus, who offers tips and tricks. The conversations aren’t required to learn the lyre, but they’re an excellent addition to the game. In total, it takes 210 interactions with the lyre, consecutively or between every run, before Zagreus finally says he can play the lyre.
Question: Is Zagreus related to Thanatos and Hypnos?
Answer: In the way all Greek deities are, sure. Thanatos and Hypnos are the children of Nyx, who was born directly from Chaos – the oldest deity in existence within the game. Hades was born three generations after the Primordial Gods (Nyx). This would place Zagreus as the fourth generation, two generations after Thanatos and Hypnos, making them first cousins twice removed. So yes, they are related but so are all Greek deities.
Question: Who voices Zagreus?
Answer: Darren Korb voices Zagreus. He also voices Skelly and Orpheus’s singing voice and is listed in the credits for additional voices.
Hades currently sits as one of my top three favorite games, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that Zagreus played a very heavy hand in making that possible. Hades is an essentially endless game. It would grow tiring quickly if it were not for the random pieces of dialogue that Zagreus can spout off unexpectedly and his constant jovial nature.
He is an enjoyable and memorable character to play. Unlike most of his godly counterparts, he is a highly empathetic character and one that most any player can easily connect with. Through Zagreus, I came to care about many characters in the story, determined to see them through the end, regardless of how long it took me.