hades 2 key art
Image Source: Supergiant Games

Hades 2 Is the Best Underworld Homecoming I Could’ve Asked For

Developing a sequel to an existing game is pretty much unheard of for Supergiant Games. This is a studio that prides itself on creating memorable one-offs before moving on to the next project to experiment with different genres.

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But if they were ever going to make a sequel to one of their games, it was always going to be Hades. It’s been six years since the release of the original game, and while it’s still in early access, Hades 2 is already shaping up to be a fantastic successor to one of the best rogue-lites of the decade.

Hades 2 puts you in control of newcomer Melinoe, daughter of Hades and Persephone, and younger sister of Zagreus. Instead of battling out of the Underworld, though, this time you’re fighting to get back in. The Titan of Time, known only as Chronos, has captured Hades himself and is waging war on the Underworld. It’s not clear what’s happened to Zagreus and Persephone, but I’m sure those details will reveal themselves in time.

Right off the bat, everything feels familiar, yet slightly foreign at the same time. Having spent nearly 200 hours with the first game, casting and dashing around with Melinoe felt like second nature. But once I got into the combat proper, it was as if I’d missed a step somewhere.

a screenshot of poseidon talking in hades 2

See, while Zagreus was mostly focused on snappy, fast-paced combat, Melinoe’s fighting style is just a little bit different. She’s under the tutelage of Headmistress Hecate, and she excels in casting magic spells to debilitate her foes. Much of the moment-to-moment combat still allows you to zip in and out quickly as you chain combos together, but you’ll also need to take a beat every now and then to channel Melinoe’s magic if you want to survive.

This threw me off completely in the first two hours or so. In fact, it was so jarring that I’d even begun to question if I was going to be able to enjoy Hades 2 as much as I did its predecessor. Thankfully, things did click eventually. With Melinoe, you’ve got a new mana bar to keep track of on top of her health. By pressing and holding any of her attack buttons, she’ll channel magic into her attacks, making them even more powerful than before.

As you go through more runs and collect more materials, you’ll even get to unlock new Incantations, some of which can enhance her magical attacks even more. And, of course, mix those up with the variety of boons, weapons, and hammer upgrades that Hades 2 offers, and you’re looking at a veritable number of potential combinations and different synergistic builds that could take you very far in the game.

Most of the gods from Hades make a return, including but not limited to the likes of Zeus, Demeter, Artemis, and Athena. There are new faces as well, including Apollo and Hestia. Don’t expect to reuse those broken boons you’ve become so familiar with in the first game, though. While the original gods do still specialize in the same effects — Demeter will always be the goddess of cold while Zeus will always be the god of lightning — their boon effects have been shuffled up a bit to keep things from feeling too samey.

a screenshot of a combat encounter in erebus in hades 2

Hades 2 certainly doesn’t feel like a game that you can cheese through with Athena’s broken deflection abilities. It was nice to gravitate towards Demeter’s cold abilities for a change, and I often found myself relishing the opportunity to imbue Melinoe’s attacks with cold and just constantly freeze everything that would get in my way.

At the time of writing, I’ve yet to clear Hades 2‘s second zone, a beautiful Atlantis-themed ocean biome that loves throwing crabs and sea dragons at you. For the most part, I’ve found the enemies and mini-bosses to be quite manageable, but I must say that Oceanus felt like a huge step up in difficulty, particularly because the game seems to love overwhelming you with large numbers of enemies. This can be frustrating, as I often found myself just unable to keep up with the sheer amount of foes getting thrown at me, rather than dying simply due to a shortcoming in technical skill. Still, this is an early access game, and there are undoubtedly further adjustments to be made.

There are plenty of new weapons to be unlocked in Hades 2, including the rapid slashing Sister Blades, which I grabbed immediately when it became available to me. Unlike Melinoe’s starting staff, the Blades made Melinoe’s fighting style feel more similar to that of Zagreus’s, which I’m totally fine with.

The Wretched Broker also makes a return, offering up different items you can buy with a variety of currencies. A lot of the original Hades-isms are back, including Nectar, which you can offer up to NPCs to deepen your relationship with them, and keepsakes, which determine which gods you’re more likely to encounter during a run.

Even in early access, Hades 2 already feels like a very polished and feature-complete game, though I’m sure there’s plenty more story content to be added in, and other little combat tweaks to come. More than anything, I find myself itching to play more to find out just what happened to Zagreus. But for now, I’m content to be back in the Underworld and to see what more this world has to offer. It’s nice to be home.


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Author
Zhiqing Wan
Zhiqing is a History undergrad from the National University of Singapore. She started playing video games in 1996 when her dad introduced her to Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Resident Evil -- and the rest, as they say, is history. When she's not obsessing over Elden Ring and Dark Souls lore theories, you can find her singing along loudly and badly to Taylor Swift's latest bops. Formerly the Reviews Editor at Twinfinite, she joined the Escapist team in 2024. You can reach her at [email protected].