33 Immortals is the unholy union of Hades, World of Warcraft, and Diablo 4, and even though it's not perfect, it's got my full attention

33 Immortals preview
(Image credit: Thunder Lotus)

Imagine relearning how to ride a bike, despite being a pretty confident cyclist already. That's what playing the 33 Immortals beta feels like, and I mean that with love. Despite previous reservations that had set the bar unfairly high, given my overwhelming love for Hades 2 and Supergiant's own brand of narrative roguelike, developer Thunder Lotus is cooking up something completely different in 33 Immortals.

You can't blame me for the flash comparison. The elevator pitch can be summarized as an isometric roguelike about lost souls venturing through Hell to defy an unjust God, aided by numerous figures from Roman or Greek mythology in an adaptation of Dante's 14th century poem, The Divine Comedy. But Thunder Lotus is an online multiplayer game, and that makes Diablo – or some of the best MMORPGs like World of Warcraft – a more fair comparison given the tighter focus on teamwork. I had no idea what to expect from 33 Immortals' drop-in raids and loot-driven dungeons in practice, and truthfully, it came with a fair share of mechanical teething problems that I'd like to see smoothed over for launch. Still, those didn't detract from 33 Immortals' potential to become one of the most interesting, innovative games of the year – and I'll never compare it to Hades again. 

Ad infinitum 

33 Immortals

(Image credit: Thunder Lotus Games)
Blood and darkness

Stepping into the Dark Wood for the first time as a lost soul on a mission was a daunting moment. For starters, it's a lot busier of a hub area than I'm used to seeing, especially given my preference for single player experiences. A lot of it will feel familiar to any fan of the best roguelike games: I'm given a choice between four weapons, a set of perks to unlock and equip before each run, and a host of NPCs to chat to in between as I plan for my next journey.

Right off the bat, I feel like 33 Immortals will be leaning more on the combat and action element more so than a winding narrative. I'm not the son or daughter of the King of the Underworld, but just one nameless soul in a sea of nameless souls seeking revenge against divine judgment. But this aspect of the everyman helps me lean into 33 Immortals' intriguing format as a dynamic multiplayer game. I'm warned during the tutorials that it's impossible to clear a dungeon without the help of your fellow lost souls, adding nuance to the tried-and-tested roguelike loop of fight, die, and fight again stronger.

I found most of the weapons a little sluggish to wield, lacking the button-mash rapidity of something like Hades. Attacking an enemy doesn't interrupt their own attack animation if they are already charging up, which gives 33 Immortals a refreshingly Soulslike edge that requires a more tactical approach than I'm used to seeing in roguelikes. But, after testing out all four weapons and being won over by the Sword of Justice's deflect ability, I set out into the first of the two playable environments in the beta build: Inferno. 

Instead of being separated into interconnecting chambers, Inferno is a large map dotted with patrolling enemies to slaughter, either on my own or with a handful of the 32 other active players in the server should I be lucky enough to stick by them. I have a little help from scavenged bones, dust, and crystal shards dropped by defeated enemies, allowing me to purchase power-ups from various outposts dotted throughout the vast expanse. Here, I can invest materials to alter my characteristics – health, attack, or empathy to fuel my co-op capabilities – before setting out to repeat the process. Unlocking chests has the chance to award me a key, needed to unlock other chests inside dungeon trials after defeating a hulking boss with my fellow spirits. These chests contain valuable items that grant even stronger buffs than those outside of a trial, and, like most things in a roguelike, they expire at the end of each run. 

I'm halfway through pummelled a band of flying bat-like creatures when suddenly, an on-screen alert indicates that a dungeon has been unlocked on the other side of the map. Here is where things get gnarly – and more than a little competitive.

Do and die 

33 Immortals

(Image credit: Thunder Lotus Games)

33 Immortals has been a humbling learning experience so far, one that I'm greatly enjoying.

I'm not sure what triggers it, but after a period of time spent hacking and slashing, a new trial opens somewhere on the map. This causes all 33 of us to flock there en masse, racing past enemies to try and snag one of the six available player slots per chamber before someone else beats us to it. I'm not sure if it's just because we were all so desperate to see as much of the beta as possible, but I found myself frustrated by how quickly these spots got filled up, leaving a bunch of us wandering souls standing outside a locked chamber idly waiting for the next. 

In that situation, it's a matter of holding down the fort and surviving long enough to see another chamber open up. There's nothing else to do but keep battling foes in the meantime, praying I don't die after accidentally straying too far from a neighboring soul. My fellow players can resurrect me once per run, albeit with a halved health bar, and a second death means being sent back to the Dark Woods to start the whole thing over again.

Instead of unlocking more of the storyline upon each permadeath, 33 Immortals wants you to gear up and reconsider your battle strategy immediately. I count up the crystal shards or new perks I might have found on my last run and take them over to Dante, who runs my inventory of sorts. Through him I can equip or upgrade my existing perks, ranging from increasing my HP to adding an extra blow per attack. Again, I'm not sure what triggers a new skill to spawn out in Inferno, but I only managed to acquire a precious three perks during my time with the beta. These were enough to get me a few victories in the dungeon trials, though try as I might, I've yet to make it to Paradiso.

It's not for lack of trying. One wish I have for Thunder Lotus going forward is that the dungeon drops occur more often, as it's all too easy to get stiffed by an unfortunate spawn and end up wasting time running across maps instead of having a chance to progress. Alternatively, I wouldn't say no to up to 10 souls having a chance to enter the dungeons at once as opposed to a mere 6, which seems quite miserly given how we're all meant to be working together instead of aggressively beating each other to target areas.

33 Immortals has been a humbling learning experience so far, one that I'm greatly enjoying. Getting past the initial presence of others is jarring in itself, but the focus on raiding adds a new dimension to the roguelike dynamic that has me actually determined to stay alive as long as possible instead of shrugging off each death in my own private shame. The 33 Immortals beta closed on June 2, but as we inch closer and closer to the as-yet undisclosed 2024 release date, I'm keen to get back into the action and prove myself a team player ASAP.

Check out some other upcoming PC games to keep an eye on this year.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.