Hades 2 aims to improve on perfection | Early access review

by on May 6, 2024

Hades is a special game. Like Doom, Dark Souls, or XCOM, it’s responsible for the birth of an entire sub-genre. You only have to look at some of the titles coming this year, like Realm of Ink, Sworn, Mark of the Deep, or Beat Slayer. It’s not just in the viewpoint or the way new powers and buffs are presented, but in the nature of the storytelling, a world that persists even through your failures. Hades may have perfected the formula already, by many accounts – so why does Hades 2 feel even better?

As Melinoe, Zagreus’ sister, your task here is more drastic and more personal than Zagreus’ was. You’re not merely trying to escape the Underworld and defy your old man; instead you’re trying to avenge your parents against the Titan Chronos. A direct sequel and loose continuation of the story, Hades 2 features a similar set up but adds a great deal to proceedings.

Hades 2

You’re still hopping into the Underworld, surviving as long and as far as possible, then coming back to progress the story, converse with gods and demigods, unlock new items and abilities, and generally mooch about. Your primary mentor is Hecate, the ancient witch who is training you and acts as the first main boss.

Very little has been subtracted from the formula in Hades 2, but so much has been added in. There’s a dizzying array of resources now, used to unlock new weapons and gathering tools like a mining pick or fishing rod, of which you can take one into a run, limiting your options but allowing you to focus on one resource. Hecate’s cauldron allows you to brew up buffs that may or may not work, while you can entreat the Fates between runs to take challenges for extra rewards.

Hades 2

Levels feel shorter, at least initially, improving the overall pace of the gameplay loop, and you’ll still meet gods along the way who impart buffs to Melinoe’s attacks. She’s able to attack with her primary weapon, such as a long spear or dagger & sickle, launch a ranged special attack, or you can hold B to create an Aoe trap that holds enemies still. Adding other elemental effects to these has unsurprising but very cool consequences. For example, adding ice to the AoE freezes all enemies, giving you a few seconds to regroup. Charon’s shop returns as a random encounter, and you can now also run into Arachne, who will change your outfit, applying raiment that adds huge buffs until you take a set amount of damage.

Crucially, though, Hades 2 plays phenomenally well. It doesn’t feel like early access, with fast, graceful, impactful combat and a story that feels more mature. It’s also stunning to look at; from the character art to the atmospheric environments, it’s a disarmingly beautiful adventure so far.

Hades 2

Arguably, some could find it a little too familiar. What’s been added is mostly in the periphery, with the core loop feeling almost identical to the first game. New characters and a new colour pallette work hard to offset this, but there’s no denying that Supergiant Games have found their stride here, and are content to walk the same path for a little while at least.

But that’s a minor complaint and perhaps an unfair one to level at a game in early access. This will evolve and grow up to 1.0, and there’s plenty of time to add to what already feels like a full experience in terms of mechanics if not content. I’ve no doubt in my mind that Hades 2 will dazzle next year when it hits 1.0. It feels incredible to play and looks like it’ll be a bigger, deeper, more personal adventure, and I can’t wait to see how deep Melinoe’s quest takes her.


Hades 2 is coming to Steam Early Access on May 6, and will release on multiple platforms in the future.