Hades 2 Early Access Review — Re-catching Lightning In A Bottle

Will Supergiant be able to replicate Hades's success? I think they might!

Hades 2 Early Access Review
Overall
4.5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Hades 2 commands the polish of a full release in early access, and I can’t fathom how good version 1.0 will be.

Pros

  • Frentic And Tight Combat
  • Eye-pleasing Art Direction
  • Stellar Voice Acting
  • Great Level Design
  • High Build Variety
  • Amazing Soundtrack

Cons

  • Incomplete Story And Placeholders

In 2020, Supergiant launched their Greek mythology-inspired rouge-like, which many would consider one of the greatest rouge-likes of all time. Everything from narrative and characters to combat and game design worked in complete harmony, and this was partly because it spent two years in early access before hitting the shelves. So, how do you recapture that kind of success again? I don’t know, but Supergiant definitely does.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Supergiant Games
  • Publisher: Supergiant Games
  • Release Date: May 8, 2024
  • Platform: PC
  • Game Length: 15 Hours
  • Time Played: 26 Hours
  • Editor’s Note: I have played both Hades and Hades 2, spending over 20+ hours in each.

From what I’ve played in the early access of Hades 2, it seems Supergiant has nailed everything one could ever want from a sequel to Hades. They have the core game design nailed down, and considering it is still at least a year away from full release, it’s staggering how polished it is.

Story And Setting

Melinoe's Headmistress
Story And Setting. [Image By eXputer]
Hades 2 places the players in the shoes of Melinoe — the underworld princess and the sister of Zagreus. In the Greek Myths tradition, Melinoe wants revenge against the Titan of Time and her grandfather, Chronos, for imprisoning her family. That obviously doesn’t include her uncles, aunts, and cousins from the surface, who do help her with her revenge but also happen to be in a bit of trouble of their own.

The biggest departure in terms of narrative is how big the world this time around feels. Melinoe, like her brother, is still the center of the story, but the world is expanded in terms of sheer scale and characters. The Greek gods don’t just pitch in to help her but also make her aware of an ongoing war that’s happening on the surface, which ultimately intertwines with Melinoe’s own story.

The biggest departure in terms of narrative is how big the world this time around feels.

The returning gods have undergone a design overhaul, the hub world has been expanded and made more meaningful, and the new roster is very likable. It’s simply a bigger and better version of Hades.

While the world is bigger, the heart of the story is still the pantheon of gods, who carry the same charm, energy, and sassiness as the first game. If I had to point out my one gripe with the story, it would be the relationship between Chronos and Melinoe.

It’s simply a bigger and better version of Hades.

The dynamic of Zag and Hades was more than just a Father-son feud, as they both knew each other beforehand. The same cannot be said for Chronos as Melinoe, as the only emotion she harbors towards him is hatred, unlike the complex relationship between her brother and father. Nevertheless, taking on The Titan of Time is just as threatening and exciting as the God of the Underworld.

This is still early access, and the story isn’t complete yet, but what I have experienced so far makes me very excited. 

Gameplay

Combat
Gameplay. [Image By eXputer]
Hades 2 borrows many of its core fundamentals from its predecessor, including the encounter design, standard and armored enemies, normal and special attacks, and, lastly, the ultimates. There is no need to fix what’s broken, but there is always room for improvement.

What’s New?

New gods
Goddess of Flame, Hestia, is one of the newcomers of Hades 2. [Image By eXputer]
The biggest addition Hades 2 makes to the core combat is the “magick,” indicated by a blue bar. It allows Melinoe to unleash various “omega” attacks by holding “Attack” or “Special.” The second thing is the “Cast,” which creates a circle around Melinoe, slowing down any nearby enemies. Holding the cast makes the circle explode for further damage. Lastly, the introduction of “Sprint” as a replacement for the double dash.

Omega attacks aren’t optional; they are essential.

Honestly, Omega attacks and magick have been great additions. They add a new layer of freedom and expression to combat. No longer do you have to stick to standard attacks while occasionally unleashing your ultimate. Combining them with the vast array of boons the Greek gods offer, the build variety remains infinitely deep.

But these additions wouldn’t have worked without Hades 2’s stellar encounter and enemy design. These encounters and enemies are designed for this kind of combat. Omega attacks aren’t optional; they are essential.

Creating a cast before enemies even span, slowing down existing enemies, using special attacks to break distant foes, and unloading standard attacks for serious damage in close encounters. The entire gameplay loop is simply wonderful and is just as fun as it was in Hades.

The biggest addition Hades 2 makes to the core combat is the “magick,” indicated by a blue bar.

There is also Hecate’s brewing port, Aspects, and Arcanas, which grant permanent upgrades, each serving their own roles. Runs are also made more meaningful with the addition of farming mechanics and mini-games that help in gathering resources for the said upgrades.

Stepping Out Of The Comfort Zone

Scrouge of the Seas, Scylla
Me when someone complains about Hades 2. [Image By eXputer]
The moment I found out that Ares wasn’t in Hades 2, I literally began to question how will I ever be able to beat this game. Ares’s boons essentially carried me against Hades, so his absence was a major setback for me. I was back to square one, assessing the available options. However, that is probably the developer’s intention as well.

What made Hades special was getting to know all these different gods and their boons, spending each run on what worked with my playstyle and what didn’t, and finally prioritizing the gods that worked with my playstyle. Supergiant recreated that sense of accomplishment again with Hades 2.

The entire gameplay loop is simply wonderful and is just as fun as it was in Hades.

This is ultimately Melinoe’s story with her own roaster of gods. It’s part of the experience to grow accustomed to the boons they offer and learn how they can be implemented in various situations. My personal new picks have to be Hestia, Hepehstus, and Apollo. 

If I get the chance, my go-to picks are the smith god’s occasional hammer attack, Hestia’s flame combined with Sister Blades, and Apollo’s sunlight cast. Ultimately, it was Zeus’s tracking cast that carried me through the Chrono’s fight, which surprised me as well.

Speaking of bosses, I think every one of them is fantastic, especially Scylla. However, the final boss may need a little bit of balancing tweaks, as I feel that some of his attacks can be hard to follow. There is a lot going on the screen at any given moment, and even the most minute mistake can cost a chunk of health. The solution to this would be reducing the visual noise and clutter.

Varied Areas And Expanded Level Design

Chaos
In the realm of Primordial Chaos. [Image By eXputer]
Hades’s areas did start to look the same after a while. However, I’d say I do not feel the same about Hades 2. First of all, each area looks like it has been designed separately and is not a rearrangement of levels. Each area I entered had its own look that helped avoid repetition for a given run.

My favorite area by far has to be the Fields of Mourning, the third biome of the Underworld. The expanded reddish fields tainted by the lost souls of the dead set up an interesting prospect; however, it is the openness of the fields that really sells that area.

It is an indie game, but it’s commendable how well it runs and looks even a year away from full release.

These fields don’t feel like standard levels but more like open-world areas where you go around and partake in different encounters while picking around boons in any order you like. In addition to the standard boons, Field of Mourning also comes with mini optional boons, adding a new layer of management and risk assessment.

The biggest twist of Hades 2 is its surface area – Olympus. I did not expect a second rouge-like game inside an already well-made rouge-like game with its own bosses, areas, gods, and, most importantly, story beats. That is where the 2 in Hades 2 comes from because it is twice the size of Hades. 

Visuals And Performance

Art Direction
Visuals And Performance. [Image By eXputer]
Hades 2 is a feast for the eyes. Beautifully painted biomes with distinct looks and enemies, stellar character designs paired with equally impressive voice acting, and exceptional visual clarity define Hades 2’s art direction. Even with a cast so big, each character’s design stands out, and characters never seem to blend with each other. 

I will point out that there are some placeholder models due to early access, but obviously, that won’t be a thing in the final release, and it actually makes me excited about what they will look like in version 1.0. Performance-wise, there are no issues either—absolutely sublime controls and framerate, with no sign of hiccups or input delay. It is an indie game, but it’s commendable how well it runs and looks even a year away from full release.

Verdict

Respawn location
Verdict. [Image By eXputer]
Hades 2 commands the polish of a full release in early access, and I can’t fathom how good version 1.0 will be. The core game design has no flaws, and every update from here on out is a cherry on top. Obviously, not everyone will feel the same way, which is why it is in early access: so the game can be balanced right for full launch. However, my time in early access has been nothing short of fun.

This has been my Hades 2 Early Access review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles. 

This is box title
Get This Game
If you are looking for a well-made rouge-like with frentic combat and fun storytelling.
Dont Get This Game
If the repeated runs and challenge of rouge-like games turn you off.
Buy / Wait for Sale / Don't Buy
I strongly recommend buying Hades 2 in early access.
Alternative Games
  • Hotline Miami
  • Hades
  • Dead Cells
  • Slay The Spire
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Hamid Ali is a Guides Writer & Editor on eXputer who occasionally covers Game Codes. He is a huge Doom fanatic and loves to melt his stress away in titles such as God of War games and Elden Ring. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, Hamid’s been writing and updating about the majority of games for several years. Hamid's gaming experience can be verified on his Steam and PSN profiles.

Experience: 3+ Years || Education: Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering.

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