Hades 2 is a hell of a time, even in early access

Hades II Melinoe and Hekate
Image: Supergiant Games

Hades II This is a first for Supergiant Games. It is the first time the studio has revisited a world, its characters, and their stories, and as a result, it is its first direct sequel. In a way, 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 is excellent across the board. However – This Will Shock You – Hades II Too It's amazing, and it's not even over yet!

After playing for 20 hours through the Early Access version available through Steam and the Epic Games Store, we can report that Supergiant already has another hit on its hands. The studio can't currently reveal which console it will be released on – a Switch successor, maybe? We certainly hope so – but we couldn't wait that long. So we loaded up our Steam decks to check out this god-like, evil-like sequel.

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Image: Nintendo Life / Supergiant Games

Hades II starts off in a familiar way. After the title screen, Melinoe (or Mel, as some call her) – daughter of Hades and princess of the underworld – is released into the Erebus, which awaits the souls of the recently dead. From here, it becomes clear what you need to do – head down, fight off plenty of spirits and creatures, and keep moving down until you reach your goal: Chronos, the Titan of Time.

That tried-and-true Hades gameplay loop kicks in as you ascend from the crossroads to the Underworld. Fight enemies, collect rewards, accept boons from the gods, and make your way through different biomes. If you die, you are teleported back to your chamber at the Crossroads – a place hidden between the underworld and the surface. You can equip various nocturnal weapons here, speak to your mentor in Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, or befriend Odysseus. Oh, and Skelly is back as Skelmius with a pretty incredible glow.

However, while Hades II may feel Familiar, if you play it exactly like Hades – fast, furious, and in the face of enemies – you will soon discover that you will die, very quickly.

Melinoe is where Hades II's biggest differences arise. He is the complete opposite of his brother Zagreus – where Zag is cruel and rebellious, Mel is studious, dedicated and organized. For starters, she feels slower than Zagreus: her dash takes a little longer to recharge, and she can only dash once. In turn, holding down the dash button will allow her to run faster, allowing many of the dash-based boons to take effect. Mail's cast is also different, and allows her to cast a magical circle to slow the enemy's movement. This means you can't be as aggressive in your playing style, and you have to think Little Learn a little more about how all the parts work together. And then, when you get that magical boon combination where everything clicks, it feels great.

Speaking of magic, Mel is a witch, being a student of Hecate, and she is extremely skilled with spells and mana. Máel can consume magicka by using his standard attack, special – usually a ranged attack or a guard, depending on the weapon – or by charging a cast (called an Omega move). Your magic restores over time, and you can increase the rate at which it refills with boons or effects. It took us more than a few runs to adjust, but switching the focus from melee to magic and range is kind of genius. Hades II may look similar, but it plays quite differently.

Hades II Early Access 1
Magic! , Image: Nintendo Life / Supergiant Games

Especially the mail artists came into our custody many times. Sometimes, just dropping it on enemies was enough to slow them down, but when we augmented it with Aphrodite's boon, which pulls enemies in and weakens them, it allowed us to defeat enemies Trapped and allowed to cause them additional damage, optionally with the boon of Hestia, Fire Goddess, causing an explosion where the cast circle is placed, dealing heavy damage in the area of ​​effect to all enemies caught in the explosion. These gifts combined with Mel's unique skills create a new level of satisfaction for us that makes us eager to experiment.

Hades II encourages experimentation even more than its predecessor. There's a lot more to manage with Mail, but not in a way that feels overwhelming. Mel can equip Tarot cards that provide various buffs, but you need to collect ash to purchase more. You can also cast spells from the Crossroads to unlock new features both at the Crossroads and throughout your journey through the Underworld. Selene, the embodiment of the Moon, can appear and grant a boon that gives Mel a new skill – a Hex – which can be activated after spending a certain amount of magicka per floor.

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No dog – but you can do Raise a frog – Image: Nintendo Life / Supergiant Games

If that's not enough, Mel's weapons are also quite different from Zagreus' arsenal. The witch's staff is like a spear, but with shorter range and slower heavy specials. Moonstone Ax is extremely slow and powerful and allows Mel to block attacks. We haven't figured out how to use the Spectral Flames yet, but there isn't another weapon like it in Hades or the sequel.

However, it isn't Paatal Lok without a fantastic set of characters. And while there are many returning faces like Aphrodite, we want to focus on a few new ones, all of whom are just as charming, insightful, and hilarious as we've come to expect. Hestia is already one of our favorites: As one of Hades' siblings, she's basically the “cool” aunt, with a warm-hearted but sharp sense of humor that makes Mel call “hot stuff.” . Apollo also makes his debut, and Artemis' twin could not be more different from the hunter, with his love of charm and chivalrous nature. His early interactions with Mel are wonderful, and it looks like he'll play a big role in the grand story. Oh and, spoilers, everyone is hot. again,

Mel's friends also shine at the crossroads. Nemesis is jealous of Melinoe because the princess has been chosen to combat Kronos, not him. So she causes a bit of friction at the crossroads, and sometimes on your journey to the underworld. In fact, she'll sometimes challenge you to kill more enemies than her – lose, and you'll forfeit all your money. At other times, she will offer items at a higher price. And sometimes she'll leave the room and take a door, taking away your ability to choose upgrades. A special shout out goes to Dora, the sarcastic shadow who lives in Mel's room tries to To be horrifying, but really, she's pretty adorable.

Would you believe us if we told you that we were only scratching the surface of the Early Access version of the game? Well, we are – there are a lot of things beyond just going after Chronos. There are new gods we haven't even talked about, specific areas to explore, and what happens after defeating the final boss of Early Access. Nevertheless, Supergiant Games stated that “Hades II in Early Access 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 is already like this, so Even more so than “Higher Hades”. There are enough differences, variations and tweaks to the gameplay to make climbing through the underworld exciting – even if down rather than up – again. The team plans to update the Early Access version every few months, and it is expected to remain in EA developer release “until at least the end of 2024.” So, obviously, this has us dreaming of a 2025 release on a Switch successor. We'll be there on the very first day, you can count on it.

Have you checked out Hades II in Early Access yet? Or are you just replaying the first game to satisfy your hunger? Tell us in the comments,

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