Levelling up and filling bars is only annoying for games where there's no other change to your character. That's why I enjoy MMOs because in the vast majority of cases you can physically upgrade your armour and weapons, and what you can upgrade to depends on your level but also on how much you worked to get it. That's why there was always that wow factor of seeing people in Stormwind etc with super rare gear (watching them in my bronze chestplate).
If everyone looked the same but the numbers were different, yeah that would be lame.
So yeah I'm not against level/exp bars at all. I actually like it. It gives you something to work towards. It's the reason I have level-up style "gamifaction" addons for Anki when I learn stuff. Makes studying bearable for me.
I disagree with the premise, because I have never wanted change. Since the beginning of variety in games there have been numbers behind them, whether it's health bars or upgrades.
Numbers quantify the intangible, and when you are controlling characters that isn't you the human how do you convey their dexterity, constitution or charisma in a way that is relevant to the game/player? Even if you find a way to hide the formulae, people will re-quantify anything in any given game. Zelda OoT doesn't give you numbers, but you can find the health or strength of ay enemy or weapon online because people want that information.
Variety is the spice of life, and games follow the rule even moreso. There's room for stats and room for alternatives, because they're all justifiable if they're done well.
To give any example, RE2 has limited weapons. It keeps it simple and has clear differences between each upgrade to convey the change. The magnum and shotgun both get different sounds and massive kickback. RE4 has 5 handguns alone, and they all use the same ammo. How do you convey the differences between them before the player spends money on a weapon and tries it? Numbers are a necessity of that approach. Both of these games are top tier, and neither are wrong.
You could say that's not relevant to RPGs and Hades (haven't played), but the same rule still applies.
Stat tables are half of the fun. What gear you are shown wearing becomes pointless the more games that allow you to customize your look to be more fashionable or pretty giving no indication of how strong you are.
I rather enjoy stats and set bonuses since rather it be Gacha, MMO, Tabletop or RPG I like maximizing the defensive stats more then anything.
I like seeing people taking a class/role meant for damage or healing and see them make them into the tankiest mofo on the planet.
But in general the customization of your stats allows for a variety of different builds whether they are creative, optimal, suboptimal or fit niche situations.
For EXP bars I like knowing how far away I am from reaching that next level.
Look at it this way. One of the best things concerning stats in any rpg is the plethora of builds players can create to suit their style, I understand that it shouldn't be stats only, so I see your point, somewhat. Take Nioh for instance you have stats and additional trees to enhance your character in the way you play plus from those trees - Ninjatsu / Onmyo greater enhance that play style. It feels good for the player to be free to choose their path instead of the developer choosing that for you.
*I'm stuck looking at the damn Nioh 2 stat screen right now after a resurrection trying to change how I originally started playing. fml.
They're a method to give frequent, albeit small rewards to the player.
That doesn't work as well with other means - your character can look like a farmer, or like a badass, but you won't be able to design 100 armors in between with clearly distinguishable distinct levels of badass-ness. Same goes for abilities.
Plus, those are much more expensive to design or develop, hence you'll always have a limited quantity of those at your disposal.
Allowing players to level up some stat from 1 to 1000 though? Really easy.
Also, often specific abilities and such are locked behind stats requirements - so stats are almost like a currency that transparently lets you work towards medium and long term goals.
I get what you are saying. But if that situation plays out in a balanced game you would have to kill hundred of thousands of rats. After a short level up from your character, rat's xp would be meaningless for you. While technically possible highly unlikely. Of course often than not there are lots of exploits for xp.