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Hades 2 Review: In Early Access To The Genre Throne

There are games that have shaped a genre to such an extent that they are perceived as a symbol. What World of Warcraft is to MMORPGs or Metroid is to Metroidvanias, Hades has been to the roguelike genre since 2020 at the latest. The excellent first game from Supergiant Games made the hard-hitting genre, in which death is an important part of the gameplay, appealing to a whole new target group. Now the sequel, Hades 2, was launched in the Early Access program on Steam at the beginning of May 2024 and has been breaking all records ever since. And for good reason, as our Hades 2 review reveals.

Hades 2 at a glance

Title Hades II (Steam product page)
Genre Roguelike
Developer: Supergiant Games Supergiant Games
Publisher Supergiant Games
Release date 06. May 2024
Platforms PC
Number of players 1
Price 28,99 Euro

Hades 2 Review: Chronos must die

I’m not normally someone who likes to die in games. I usually prefer more relaxed games where I don’t have to watch my every move. Nevertheless, I found the first Hades incredibly fascinating and easily kept me glued to the screen for around 50 hours.

Hades 2 happily picks up exactly where its predecessor left off. Only in a fresh guise and with some new ideas. This time you slip into the skin of the young and immortal witch Melinoe, who was raised far away from Hades by Hecate, the goddess of magic from Greek mythology.

Brother Zagreus, Prince of the Underworld and protagonist of the previous game, was kidnapped along with your parents by Chronos, the ruler of time, who quickly installed himself as ruler of the underworld. Over the course of the game, it is of course up to you to free your family from the clutches of the titan and reclaim the underworld. “Chronos must die, ” the agile heroine reminds herself after almost every death.

Hades 2 Story
This time you slip into the skin of Melinoe to put a stop to Chronos. (Image: Supergiant Games)

However, as this is no easy task, you will need the help of several deities throughout the game who will support you with their blessings. Of course, all of this is familiar from the first part of the series. This begs the question: Does Hades 2 offer enough new features to feel really fresh?

Absolutely! As a fan of the first installment, Hades 2 absolutely captivated me within the first few minutes and never let go. This is not only due to the exciting story, which is once again progressed piece by piece, but above all to the excellent and detailed gameplay.

With magic and sprints: The gameplay of Hades 2

Hades 2 builds on the core gameplay of the first game. You still start in a safe hub area, the crossroads, and fight your way through the varied areas to take on Chronos himself at the end.

The enemies that stand in your way in each area are largely the same. Sometimes an elite version here, sometimes a fresh intermediate boss there. Sounds monotonous? But it’s not. This is ensured by the fun gameplay loop itself, which is different every time thanks to the gifts of the gods on the one hand and your choice of weapons and items on the other.

Hades 2 Gameplay
The immortal princess of the underworld can also dish out some mighty blows. (Image: Supergiant Games)

Fortunately, Melinoe also plays fresh and attacks much more agilely than Zagreus, for example. By default, the witch relies on a powerful staff with which she deals devastating melee attacks and a strong ranged attack and damages enemies in her vicinity with a spell circle. All abilities can also be charged to increase their damage and/or range.

This is where the new mana bar comes into play, as recharging consumes a portion of the severely limited energy and is only available to you a few times – at least unless you find a way to regenerate mana.

Depending on the deity, the abilities can be upgraded or modified in the course of a run. Goddess of love Aphrodite, for example, boosts your melee attack by 80 percent, while Apollo improves your ranged attack.

Hades 2 Aphrodite
The divine gifts provide variety… and sometimes you’re just unlucky

This provides welcome variety but, as in its predecessor, also harbors a certain potential for frustration if the abilities in a run simply don’t suit your own style of play. However, this can be further individualized.

Arcane knowledge, weapons and more

Among other things, you collect knowledge that you invest in unique abilities. Life regeneration when leaving a room is definitely nice, but increased critical damage for charged attacks is also not to be sneezed at.

Each of these knowledge cards has a specific value. Initially, Melinoe can invest a maximum of 10 knowledge points, but this number can be significantly increased later on. In the best roguelike style, you become stronger the more often you take the heroine out into the night.

Hades 2 Wissenskarten
Use the knowledge cards to build your own build

This also applies to rings and jewelry that the deities give you in return for a gift. Here, too, you gradually unlock new items, which also increase in rank as long as you wear them. And as if that wasn’t enough, there are four different weapon classes to choose from, which allow for different play styles.

The sister blades, for example, are particularly fast, while the shadow flames focus purely on ranged attacks. The Moonstone Axe, on the other hand, packs a particularly powerful punch. In combination with the knowledge cards and trinkets, a number of unique builds can be created.

Hades 2 Wegkreuzung
The crossroads serves as a hub and expands as the game progresses

Hades 2 relies heavily on experimentation with these builds and it will take some time to find the perfect playstyle for you. If you’re not up for it, you’ll quickly reach your limits in the game. There’s no doubt that you have to like this, because the differences between the individual play styles are enormous.

Silver ore and flowers

In order to unlock the new weapons, jewelry and the like, you need materials. Some of these are obtained by completing a room, others by defeating bosses and still others, such as silver ore or flowers, have to be collected.

Hades 2 Waffen
There are four weapon classes to choose from in the game

In Hades 2, you can only do this with the appropriate tools such as a pickaxe or spade. But here, too, you have to make a decision. Because you can only pack one of the tools per run. Would you rather collect silver ore for a new weapon this time? Or would you prefer the tablet of peace, which you can use to call spirits into the hub?

This also ensures that Hades 2 always feels a little different with every run, because you change with the game. Or have to change.

Room for improvement

In combination with the crossroads, the scope and size of the game world have increased noticeably compared to its predecessor and not all mechanics seem fully thought through, while some areas still feel a little empty.

The level of difficulty also still seems a little unbalanced in places. While you fight your way through the rooms in passing, the number and complexity of enemies increases to such an extent that you have problems staying alive.

Of course, a roguelike is supposed to be difficult, but Hades 2 can be downright frustrating in places, so some balancing fine-tuning is still needed here. But the game is still in Early Access and it can be assumed that the developers will add some fresh ideas here.

Hades 2 Bosskampf

Those who are completely new to the genre will also be pleased about the optional god mode that can be activated. Although this does not weaken the enemies, it gives you an additional protective shield that offers you 20 percent damage resistance, which also increases by 2 percent every time you die.

Beautiful technique

From a technical point of view, Hades 2 is an absolute feast for the eyes, even though this is where the least has changed compared to its predecessor. But it doesn’t have to be, as part 1 already impressed with its colorful and detailed comic style.

Evil tongues may say that Hades 2 looks like Hades 1, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, does it? From the graphics to the font to the animations, even the first few minutes feel like coming home.

Hades 2 Grafik
Image: Supergiant Games

The detailed and varied environments, coherent character and enemy models and excellent animations make Hades 2 a truly beautiful game. With a look that is absolutely timeless and will still work on all platforms in 10 years’ time. However, part two is noticeably better, especially when it comes to the graphic effects during the battles.

The soundtrack is also of a very high standard. From the successful English voice actors to the atmospheric or driving soundtrack (my highlight is the battle against the siren rock band), the game sounds simply outstanding.

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Hades 2 in the Early Access test: Conclusion

Hades 2 may not reinvent the genre, but it builds excellently on the already outstanding first game and adds some fresh ideas to it. The interplay between the choice of weapons, knowledge and jewelry in particular ensures that the game feels fresh every time you play it.

And since the story is advanced after every death or the crossroads is expanded with something new, you quickly find yourself in an addictive spiral that is second to none. Fans of the genre will once again get their money’s worth here, while newcomers will also enjoy the gods mode, the exciting story and the impeccable controls.

For an Early Access title, Hades 2 is already excellently developed. However, a little fine-tuning of the balancing and filling in some gaps could improve the gameplay qualities even further. In view of part one, it is very likely that there is still a lot to come. And even if not, Hades 2 has so much to offer that you will want to return to the underworld again and again for one run or another.

exciting, twist-filled story
Narrative cleverly linked to progress
convincing characters
– Not everyone likes the piecemeal narrative style
excellent combat system
varied abilities
lots of scope for builds
– Sometimes bad luck with the gifts
motivating progression system
successful progression through new unlocks
mostly fair level of difficulty, but…
– … sometimes harsh tips
significantly larger game world & hub
enormously high replay value
harmonious scope
– Tools seem a little like a stretch
Graphics & Sound
beautiful comic style
excellent animations
great soundtrack
– looks almost like the predecessor

Hades 2 Test: Gold Award

Hades 2

Graphics & Sound


Hades 2 builds on its excellent predecessor and adds a few fresh ideas to create a roguelike with outstanding gameplay that could do with a few more adjustments in Early Access.

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