Archives by Day

June 2024

Hades II

Platform(s): PC
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: Supergiant Games
Release Date: 2025


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Preview - 'Hades II'

by Cody Medellin on May 8, 2024 @ 12:05 a.m. PDT

Hades II is a rogue-like dungeon crawler in which you'll battle beyond the Underworld of Greek myth using dark sorcery to take on the sinister Titan of Time.

Many consider the original Hades to be a modern classic. Set against the backdrop of Greek mythology, the roguelike sported great combat with near-infinite replayability, a stunning presentation, and characters that gave the game some genuine personality. It also marked the first time that Supergiant Games went through the Early Access process to develop and refine its game, albeit through the Epic Games Store instead of through Steam. After a successful technical test, Hades II arrives on both Epic Games Store and Steam in Early Access, and the team's first sequel doesn't falter one bit.

You play the role of Melinoe, the child of Hades and Persephone and sister to the first game's hero, Zagreus. However, you know very little of your childhood in Hades, as it was attacked by the Titan of Time, Chronos. Your family was taken away while you were delivered to the witch Hecate, who raised you as best as she could while also training you to exact revenge on Chronos. Years later, you're finally of age to perform this task, and you are backed by the gods and others who have also been waging war with Chronos.

If you've played the first game, then you'll be familiar with Hades II's combat and flow. You have three different attacks with melee, special, and cast, and the weapons change how the attacks play out. Use an ax, and your special attack sends out a concussive wave, while using a wand conjures up a ball of energy. Holding down each of those attack buttons delivers either charged versions of the attacks or something different, such as a bevy of throwing knives when using the dagger and sickle or a series of rotating swings with the ax. You'll often encounter boons from gods that grant passive or active abilities, such as the chance to push back enemies when you attack or lightning strikes when you get enemies in your charged-up casted circle. Like a good roguelike, levels and enemy configurations are randomized, but the main boss order isn't. While death is guaranteed at some point, you carry over some of the craftable ingredients to ensure you get stronger for your next run.

While the gameplay feels very similar to the first game to the point that players of the first game can easily jump in with no difficulty, there are a few changes that improve the system greatly. You can still dash, but you can also sprint around the battlefield; this makes evasion easier, but attacking stops the sprints. Projectile attacks are no longer finite, so you can flood an area with throwing knives if you wish and not have to worry about retrieving them from monsters or the environment. Boons can be synergized, so you can have waves that push back enemies and freeze them or get together a kit that uses every projectile possible to turn the game into an isometric shooter. The most noticeable change is the presence of a mana meter that lets you unleash charged moves if you have enough energy to do so. Since it refills after every room, you don't need to play conservatively with your attacks.

All of this leads to a fighting system where aggressiveness is highly encouraged, but that doesn't mean that defensiveness is frowned upon. You may only have a shield with a few weapons, but dashing through enemy attacks is still possible, and sprinting is advantageous in some boss fights. There's also no flashing for enemy attacks, so you need to read enemy animations more carefully to see when an attack will occur. On the flipside, the game shows off the radius for enemy explosives, so you can properly gauge if something will hit you, rather than dash away and wait for the explosion to see if you managed to avoid the blast radius.

Another change has to do with the crafting system. In some instances, it's expanded over what was seen in the first game. There are several more elements needed to unlock some weapons, and the same applies to the cards. The different elements can be traded for other things at your camp, and you can grow some elements on your own. There's also the ability to mine or fish or dig for items while on a run, but you'll be limited in what you can do since you can only carry one tool at a time on your journey. The only thing missing so far is the ability to make cosmetic changes to your camp, but it is still early, so this may appear later in the development process.

What is really surprising is just how much content there is in this first Early Access build. In the six-and-a-half hours spent fighting and dying constantly, we encountered several minibosses, three main bosses, and four completely different areas. We saw numerous Boons, unlocked almost every tool and weapon, got a large list of tasks to fulfill, and filled out the encampment with more extras. We rarely encountered a room that had the same layout and enemy placement as before, and none of the dialogue repeated. We still got the feeling that we could've kept going for a few more runs and made more progress since we don't know where the Early Access build ends. The game feels like it's very close to being feature-complete, especially when you see the 0.90 version number at the top right of the screen; this level of completeness is unusual for most games in Early Access.

The presentation is excellent, even if you'll have a hard time pointing out improvements over the first game. The graphics have a bold graphic novel style that emphasizes greens more than reds, but it remains stunning in all of the environments. The character models look excellent, as do their animations, but there are some animations that look like they still need to be implemented, such as when you give treats to Hecate's familiar. The music features familiar riffs from the original game, but all of the tracks sound great in every situation. The voice work does a fantastic job of making each of the characters very personable, no matter how minor they are to the overall story. Ultrawide support is available for those with 21:9 monitors, while Steam Deck users will love that the game hits 60fps on a 1280x800 resolution. The LCD version of the device can play the game for over five hours on a full charge.

Even in its initial Early Access incarnation, Hades II is spectacular. The combat system remains as fluid as ever, while the few tweaks have made the system feel close to perfect. The constant sense of progression adds an addictive element, and the amount of content in the Early Access build means that it will be quite some time before one can exhaust what the game has to offer. Unless you absolutely want to wait for all of the content, you should pick up Hades II immediately.

More articles about Hades II
blog comments powered by Disqus