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Hades II Impressions: It Whoops So Much Ass

The sequel’s technical test is running now ahead of Early Access, and it’s as good as we’d hoped it'd be

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Melinoë stands in the center of a green-lit circle.
Image: Supergiant Games

The Hades 2 technical test is currently live for those lucky enough to have gotten access, and I can confirm that Supergiant Games’ highly anticipated (and first ever) sequel is exactly what it should be, and then some. I had a feeling Hades 2 would be good from the moment I booted up the game and heard the familiar-but-different notes of Darren Korb’s latest score, but once I started playing the roguelike, I was certain.

Everything is here from the original game—the impossibly hot Greek gods, the beautiful art style, the challenging combat, the unique character builds—but there’s even more layered on top of it. Protagonist Melinoë, sister to the first game’s lead, Zagreus, doesn’t play at all like her brother, so learning her combat style will take you a few attempts. She’s much more adept from the start, and can wield different weapons that you’ll need to craft rather than just choosing one before a run like Zagreus did. So far, I’ve only played with the Witch’s Staff, which offers a nice mix of ranged and close-up combat options, including a massive damage beam that levels low-HP enemies—though its effectiveness comes at a cost: you have to charge this attack up, thus putting you at risk as you’re temporarily immobile.


Read More: Hades II Is Addressing The First Game’s Lack Of Body Diversity

As you might have guessed from that weapon’s name, Melinoë is a witch. Above her health bar is a magic bar, which refills at the start of every section, and is drained by casting spells. Supergiant cleverly folds her witchiness even further into Hades 2’s gameplay, offering incantations she can brew up in a cauldron using items you find on your runs—like Fated Intervention, which calls three fates to come fight with you, or Summoning of Mercantile Fortune which will summon “the wretched broker” who will trade you resources for bones you collect. That means that you’ll need to pick flowers and mine metals on your runs, a crafting/gathering element that, despite being wholly new to the world of Hades, feels like a natural addition.


There are also Arcana cards, which can level up Melinoë’s build in interesting ways, like one that heals you whenever you enter a new section, or one that temporarily slows down time after you pull off a move. You can unlock different Arcana cards with Ashes, a resource you’ll earn at the end of certain stages.

Boons (upgrades bestowed upon you by the very hot Greek gods) are still here in Hades 2, but they’re an entirely new set of juicy abilities that play off of Melinoë’s moveset, like Smoulder Ring, which turns her cast (an AOE attack that slows enemies in its path) into a flaming ring of slow burn damage. The playthrough where I had this incorporated into my build was a breeze, as I could easily waste lower-level enemies just by dashing into a group of them, dropping the cast, and dashing away to watch them burn from a distance. I also really liked Shameless Attitude, which increases your damage if you’re going into a fight with 80% or more of your health bar filled.


There are also a few little changes to combat that make Hades 2 feel like a proper sequel, like Terrain Kills, which let you melee a breakable object (like trees) until they shatter into dozens of pieces that fly towards enemies. At one point, Artemis shows up and starts wasting enemies with her bow from just off-screen, making what would have been a tough encounter a breeze.

All of these new elements make Hades 2 feel simultaneously familiar and fresh. I’ve spent about an hour with the game thus far, and it’s abundantly clear Supergiant has maintained the grabbiness of the original while ensuring that the sequel expands upon that formula, like a fancy cocktail bar offering a deconstructed Aperol Spritz (which I will slurp the fuck up, thank you).


You can sign up for the Hades 2 technical test on Steam, but if you don’t get in, don’t fret—the Early Access period is nigh.