Hades 2 Is A Hell Of A Time, Even In Early Access

Hades II Melinoë and Hecate
Image: Supergiant games

Hades II marks a first for Supergiant Games. This is the first time that the studio has revisited a world, its characters and their stories, and therefore, it is its very first direct sequel. In some ways this may seem disappointing, but we are talking about Supergiant Games. Hades is a masterclass in narrative design, addictive gameplay, rewarding progression, beautiful art, and more. It’s excellent in all areas. However – this will shock you – Hades II Also It’s turning out great, and it’s not even finished yet!

After 20 hours of play through the Early Access version, available via Steam and Epic Games Store, we can say that Supergiant already has another success on its hands. The studio can’t yet reveal which consoles it will be released on – Switch Successor, perhaps? We sure hope so – but we couldn’t wait that long. So we loaded up our Steam Deck to check out this divine and rogue sequel.

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Image: Nintendo Life / Supergiant Games

Hades II begins in a familiar way. After the title screen, Melinoë (or Mel, as some call her) – daughter of Hades and princess of the Underworld – is deposited in Erebus, the waiting place for the souls of the recently deceased. From there, it becomes obvious what you need to do: head down, fight tons of spirits and creatures, and keep going until you reach your goal: Chronos, the Titan of Time.

As you descend from the crossroads into the underworld, that tried-and-true Hades gameplay loop comes into play. Battle enemies, collect rewards, accept favors from the gods, and make your way through various biomes. If you die, you are returned to your chambers at the Crossroads – a hidden place between the Underworld and the Surface. You can equip different night weapons (weapons) here, talk to your mentor in Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, or befriend Odysseus. Oh, and Skelly is back as Schelemeus with some pretty incredible brilliance.

However, even if Hades II could feel familiar, if you play exactly like Hades – fast, furious, and in the face of enemies – you’ll soon find that you die very quickly.

It is in Melinoë that the biggest differences in Hades II come from. She is the complete opposite of her brother Zagreus: Zag is impetuous and rebellious, Mel is studious, dedicated and methodical. For starters, she feels slower than Zagreus: her sprint takes a little longer to recharge, and she can only dash once. In exchange, holding down the Dash button will allow him to run faster, which is where many Dash-based perks come into effect. Mel’s casting is also different and allows her to create a magic circle to slow down enemy movements. This means you can’t be as aggressive in your playstyle and you need to think about a little a little more about how all the pieces work together. And then when you get that magical combination of deals where everything clicks into place, it feels so good.

Speaking of magic, being a student of Hecate, Mel is a witch and she is extremely proficient with spells and mana. Mel can consume Magic by charging (called Omega Move) her standard attack, special attack – usually a ranged attack or guard, depending on the weapon – or a throw. Your Magicka restores over time, and you can increase the speed at which it replenishes with perks or effects. It took us more than a few passes to adjust, but going from melee to magic to ranged is kind of genius. Hades II may look similar, but the game is quite different.

Hades II Early Access 1
Witchcraft! — Image: Nintendo Life / Supergiant Games

The casting of Mel, in particular, was pivotal for us on several occasions. Sometimes just dropping it on enemies was enough to slow them down, but when we buffed it with an Aphrodite perk, which sucks enemies in and inflicts Weak on them, it allowed us to trap enemies and inflict them additional damage. , a boon from Hestia, the Goddess of Fire, creates an explosion where the casting circle is placed, which deals massive area damage to any enemies caught in the explosion. These benefits, combined with Mel’s unique skills, create a whole new level of satisfaction for us that makes us want to experiment.

Hades II encourages even more experimentation than its predecessor. There’s so much more to deal with with Mel, but not in a way that feels overwhelming. Mel can equip tarot cards that grant various buffs, but you must gather ashes to purchase more. You can also cast incantations from the Crossroads to unlock new facilities both at the Crossroads and throughout your journey through the Underworld. Selene, the Moon incarnate, can appear and grant boons that give Mel a whole new skill – a Hex – that can be activated after spending a certain amount of Magicka per floor.

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No dog, but you can pet the frog – Image: Nintendo Life / Supergiant Games

If that’s not enough, Mel’s weapons also differ significantly from Zagreus’ arsenal. The Witch’s Staff is like a spear, but with a little reach and a slow, heavy special. The Moonstone Ax is extremely slow and powerful and allows Mel to block attacks. We don’t really know how to use Ghostly Flames yet, but there is no other comparable weapon in Hades or the sequel.

It’s not Hades without a fantastic ensemble of characters. And while there are plenty of returning faces, like Aphrodite, we want to focus on some of the new arrivals, all of whom are as charming, delightful, and hilarious as we expected. Hestia is already one of our favorites: as Hades’ brother and sister, she’s basically the “cool” aunt, with a warm but biting sense of humor who calls Mel a “hot thing.” Apollo also makes his debut, and Artemis’ twin couldn’t be any different from the Hunter, with his love of the spotlight and chivalrous nature. Their early interactions with Mel are all wonderful and it looks like they will play a bigger role in the bigger story. Oh and spoilers, everyone is hot. Again.

Mel’s companions at the crossroads also shine. Nemesis is jealous of Melinoë because the princess was chosen to face Chronos and not her. It therefore causes a bit of friction at the crossroads, and sometimes during your journey to the Underworld. In fact, she will sometimes challenge you to kill more enemies than her – lose and you’ll lose all your money. Other times, she will offer items at a high price. And sometimes she leaves the room and takes one of the doors, depriving you of the opportunity to choose your upgrade. Special thanks to Dora, the sarcastic shadow who lives in Mel’s room and who try It’s scary, but in reality, she’s just adorable.

Would you believe us if we told you that we’re only scratching the surface of the Early Access version of the game? Well, we are – there’s so much beyond just chasing Chronos. There are new gods we haven’t even talked about, specific areas to explore, and what happens after you beat the Early Access final boss. However, Supergiant Games stated that “Early Access Hades II already features more environments, enemies, and fully voiced characters than the full version of the original Hades game.” This is potentially going to be huge.

As it is now, Hades II already is, SO much more than just “no more Hades”. There are enough differences, tweaks, and changes to the gameplay that make it exciting to climb the Underworld – even if it’s down instead of up – again. The team plans to update the Early Access version every few months, and it should stay with EA Developers “at least until the end of 2024.” So obviously, this makes us dream of a release in 2025 on the successor to the Switch. We will be there from day one, you can count on that.

Have you already tested Hades II in early access? Or are you replaying the first game to satiate your appetite? Let us know in the comments.

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