Hades, a rogue-like action video game developed by Supergiant Games and released in September 2020, represents a very interesting case of localisation. Indeed, Hades is an interactive multimedia work with a fair amount of text. Several dialogues are present: directions in the game menu, textual windows that appear after the completion of each room.
Hades is set in Ancient Greece. The player impersonates Zagreus, son of Hades, and has to escape from the Underworld to find his real mother Persephone. During his journey Zagreus is confronted by several creatures from Greek mythology, the Minotaur, and receives support from various deities.
The importance of dialogues in Hades
With thirty talking figures and a total of over 21,000 lines of text, dialogues play a central role in the gameplay of Hades. These gradually reveal the previous history of each character, influencing their attitude towards Zagreus. The player, during and after each game, can learn information about the story through the various conversations with the heroes and gods of mythology.
The difficulties in translating Hades
Hades was a complex video game to translate, being weak in some languages such as Spanish. Some parts of the text appear to be sloppy and automatic translations that pay little respect to the target context, due to a meaningless literal approach. There are parts of the game that have also been split and worked on by different people. In doing so, the common sense of discourse is lost and the whole appears as a confusing collage of elements without continuity. It seems that Supergiant initially worked with a localisation agency, but once the budget was reached, they then relied on volunteer translators. The working methods were discrepant, given also the absence of a shared glossary.
Hades boasts a vibrant fan community that eagerly awaited its release. The early access certainly helped to fix the remaining bugs, also at the translation level. This, in fact, underwent an overhaul that brought the texts to the quality that can be enjoyed today. Hades won many awards in 2020 and was nominated for best game of the year. Recently, Supergiant announced a new title in the saga that will also be translated into Ukrainian.