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Hades 2 review: Even better than its predecessor

Hades 2 review: Even better than its predecessor

This sequel puts a spell on you

If you have spoken to me over the past year, you would know that the majority of my conversations include the request to “wake me up once Hades 2” drops. Now, much to the relief of said people, I am very much awake as this Monday saw Supergiant Games drop its highly-awaited sequel into our laps without a shred of warning.

Known for causing bisexual awakenings, temper tantrums and pleading to the gods, Hades was a 2018 roguelike RPG that took the gaming world by storm. Developed by Supergiant Games, it told the story of son of Hades, Zagreus, as he rebelled against his father and did all he could to escape the suffocating Underworld.

Fast forward six years and the reins are being handed over to Zagreus’ sister, Melinoë for Hades 2. Instead of fighting out of the Underworld, she is trying to fight back into it and discover what happened to her father, mother and brother after they fell victim to the god of time himself, Chronos.

Hades 2 /
Supergiant Games

Taking place an undetermined length of time after the events of Hades, we land straight into the action as Melinoë - a chthonic nymph and witch who has trained under the watchful eye of Hecate since Chronos escaped from the depths of Tartarus and took over the Underworld.

Trained all her life to slay Titans, Melinoë is already a formidable figure but unlike her brother, is less of a bruiser and relies more on strategy. That is at least what I have discovered after sinking quite a few hours into the game.

Whereas my Zagreus gameplay consisted of the ol’ dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge, Melinoë requires a lot more precision whether she plays with weapons such as her dual daggers, Witch’s staff or ferocious axe. As a witch, she is able to wield magic and can use it to trap her enemies, send out seeking bolts and also use tarot cards to gain new abilities.

The tarot card system is new to Hades 2 and works as an equivalent to the mirror in Hades. By collecting materials (another new feature), Melinoë is able to gain and upgrade new abilities which will help her on her runs. This can include the blessed Death Defiance as well as standard health and magick regeneration, speed increases and dodge enhancements.

As well as hunting down the Titan of Time, Melinoë will also have to worry about mining, digging, planting and fishing in order to hoard enough materials to upgrade abilities, buy items from the local shopkeeper and upgrade both the Crossroads base and Underworld levels.

Hades 2 /
Supergiant Games

To do this, Melinoë will have to enter each run with not only her weapon of choice but also a tool of choice. This can vary from a pickaxe to a fishing rod but be aware that she can only carry one tool per run so you will need to manage your materials to see what you are in need of.

Help is something you will need in Hades 2 and much like its predecessor, the game’s Greek gods are more than happy to assist.

With some familiar faces such as Aphrodite and Hermes (albeit with new and updated designs), the character roster has also expanded significantly with gods such as Nemesis, Moros and Eris making an appearance as well as Arachne who will provide you with ability-boosting garments and Dora who floats aimlessly around camp (very relatable).

One notable returner is Chaos but this time, they are looking pretty different. The anthropomorphic personification of the primitive state who existed before the creation of the universe shows that the cycle of death and rebirth is prevalent in Greek mythology with their newest design featuring them looking pretty suave but holding the head of their original design.

However, it wouldn’t be very feminist of me not to mention how much Hades 2 focuses on the power of not only witches, but womanhood. This game celebrates all things witchy and magical and does that through its diverse cast of female characters.

Hades 2 /
Supergiant Games

There was no doubt that Hades 2 was going to be a celebration of womanhood with the reins handed over to Melinoë this time around. Not only was she brought up by the Goddess of Witchcraft herself, Hecate, but also has ties to Selene, the personification of the moon, and Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, who refers to our main character as “sister” despite canonically being cousins.

The women in Hades 2 feel inextricably linked and regularly lend each other strength and help in order to face their trials. Even those Melinoë doesn’t get on with at first, such as Goddess of Retribution Nemesis, still offer an interesting dynamic that is explored throughout the game rather than falling into the trope of two women hating each other just because.

From the very beginning of Hades 2, you are presented with occult imagery from Hecate’s wide-brimmed hat and cloak to the giant cauldron that Melinoë uses to combine materials to upgrade the world around her. With the relationship between women and witchcraft being inextricably linked over history and not in a positive way, it is interesting to see how Hades 2 takes this dynamic and shows not just the power of the arcana but also the power of women.

The elephant in the room and something that may put potential players off is that Hades 2 is technically in early access and I say technically because this does not matter at all. Other than a few characters not having received their final design (such as Narcissus which is extremely ironic), the game already feels fully finished.

With Supergiant Games already claiming that Hades 2 “includes more environments, foes and fully-voiced characters than the full version of the original game” and that it has “more in the works”, it is already expected that the sequel will beat the Hades completion time at an estimate of 23 hours (for the main objective).

Hades 2 /
Supergiant Games

I think you may have noticed but a lot of players dive into this roguelike because it offers challenging gameplay that never grows stale. Even death doesn’t mean the end as you will return back to the Crossroads where you will have new people to meet and jobs to be done. With multiple weapons and abilities to choose from, no run is the same and I don’t mind admitting that Hades 2 feels a lot more challenging than its predecessor.

However, the reason I fell in love with Hades and inevitably Hades 2 is because of its characters - both them as individuals and how they all come together. Whether it’s Apollo and Artemis’ sibling bickering, Aphrodite thirsting over Charon or Hermes speaking at the speed of sound, they all offer unique and interesting interpretations of the mythological gods.

Yes, I will praise the introduction of new features, more challenging and thought-inducing gameplay and of course, the beautiful art style. However, I will praise Supergiant Games's love for its characters even more.

I still have many hours of gameplay left in Hades 2 which may or may not end in tears when I die to the same boss countless times but I am guaranteed to love every second of it.

Pros: Engaging gameplay, engrossing narrative, incredibly diverse characters and an overall improvement from the original

Cons: Due to the game still being in early access, some small areas are unfinished

For fans of: Hades, Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells

10/10: Perfect

Hades 2 is available in early access now on Steam. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Supergiant Games

Topics: Hades, Reviews, PC, Steam