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Hades 2’s Early Access Version Is Already One Hell Of A Good Time

"If you are wondering if they still have the juice, the answer is yeah"

Great news to start off the week: Hades 2’s early access version is here, and you can play it right now. Chris and I, both big fans of the original, got even earlier access to it last week and have been putting it through its paces. Our verdict? It’s good as hell. This is a grander, witchier refinement of an already extremely refined game – and surprises abound. If you’re hoping for something brand-brand new from Supergiant, you might feel a twinge of disappointment, but if you want all the Hades you can handle, get ready for every other priority in your life to fall by the wayside.

Nathan: Hey Chris, I don't know about you, but I've been playing SO MUCH Hades 2. I received early code a little over a week ago and have put in about 20 hours. I've defeated this game's Hades-equivalent boss once and gotten him infuriatingly close to zero a couple other times. I've also begun to explore additional routes, which I won't say much more about for fear of spoilers. My first impression: It's good. Really good! It is of course refined to a mind-boggling degree – the new boons combine in all sorts of smart ways, and I love Melinoe's generally rangier, spellcasting-focused kit – but after a couple hours it really starts throwing curveballs at you with regards to narrative, characters, and setting. 

My second impression: This game is HUGE for being in early access. I don't know if it already contains quite as much content as the original game, but it certainly feels like the foundation for a game that will be much bigger than the original (which was already very big). There's some obvious placeholder art in a few places, but for the most part, I've barely been able to tell that it's in early access.

How much have you played?

Chris: I think I got this Tuesday. We are writing this Friday, so 12 hours – a decent amount of my time.

Nathan: I've had to pull myself away a little these past couple days, but for several, it completely took over my life. When I wasn't playing, I was thinking about it.

Chris: It derailed a lot of work, so it's good. That Balatro and this are within spitting distance of each other on this year's calendar is cruel if you have a certain kind of brain.

I do agree about Melinoë, I really am enjoying her kit, particularly how casts work. That's when you drop a sigil down and it freezes or blocks people around you. That took me a while to get into the rhythm of but I find that a lot of the really busted combos come out of that. She's a lot more spacing focused, not that Zagreus wasn't.


Nathan: Yes! It took me a minute to really come to grips with all the possibilities, but now it's second nature to toss down a circle, entrap enemies in it so they can't chase me around for a second, and then dash away and start lobbing specials or casts. And man, casts are so good. Holding down the button and unleashing a tidal wave of magic just feels great, especially if you get the arcana card that puts everything into slow-mo for a couple seconds while you do it.

Plus, as you alluded to, you can put together some absolutely devilish combos. I love getting boons that allow me to turn my circle into a ranged projectile – often with a bonus fireball – that lands on tops of enemies and then annihilates them with Zeus lightning or a Hephaestus hammer or something along those lines. That's been my winning strategy so far with both the Sister Blades and the Witch Staff.

Chris: Yeah, those two are my favorites as well. I wish the axe was not so slow for me.

Technical question, but which of the keepsakes do you use?

Nathan: OK so, I love the one that reduces Guardian (boss, basically) damage to you. Makes fights more manageable while you work out how to dart and dodge around their big attacks. At first I found some of the fights in this game to be really overwhelming — even compared to the first Hades, which I have over 100 hours in — but they’re actually super manageable. You just have to develop an eye for a lot of the projectiles and attack timings, which are really visually legible. The anti-Guardian trinket gives you a little more time per fight to do that, essentially.

Chris: I use Chaos' because it is fun but it's wildly inconsistent so I have been meaning to mix it up. It just gives you one of Chaos' rewards randomly, then swaps it out every 8 stages with a different one. Rarity is dictated by your current trinket level.

I really enjoy the tarot-style upgrade tree for your arms although I wish the UI was a bit better at telling you how to upgrade capacity. It kinda assumes you will figure out that you should hover over the portrait.


Nathan: Yeah, I feel like they'll probably iron out issues like that during the early access period. This version of the game definitely feels targeted toward experienced Hades players who would naturally see a new mechanic, recognize that it's new, and want to tinker with it

As for the Chaos trinket, I've eyed it, but I am too addicted to winning -- or making progress each time -- to risk it. That said, I love the idea of it.

Chris: Speaking of mechanics, the Selene mechanic is really interesting. Melinoë is more moon-adjacent and so Selene's upgrades are like, independent of the boon tree and are closer to an ult that activates when you spend a certain amount of magic.

Nathan: But! It's an ult that has its own mid-run progression tree.

Chris: Yes! Sometimes!

Nathan: So if you encounter Selene again, you can invest more points into it and change its functionality.

Chris: Each of the three ults has a different amount of potential, so one is potentially very powerful and so what you choose has a different risk-reward. It's a nice wrinkle. There's a lot of those! They added a lot of complexity to the game without bogging it down, which is nice for people who beat the previous game into the ground.

Nathan: Yeah exactly. I was worried after the first couple hours that it might end up feeling too familiar, but the new layers of depth constantly surprise. I do not play Hades 2 like I played Hades 1 at all. My playstyle is totally different, as are the boons I seek out and the tools I have at my disposal.

When it comes to Selene, I generally go with the ability that lets me regain health after I use a certain amount of magic. I consider it kind of an insurance policy in case I fuck up, and it can also branch into restoring magic (which is good, because my playstyle is extremely magic-heavy). I definitely prefer it over the laser beam, which leaves me too stationary for my liking, and the ability to revive a random dead enemy and have it serve me for a minute, which feels too weak and gimmicky at the moment. 


Chris: Yeah the health upgrade is a nice bump of survival, I do wanna see what the one that makes you go evil mode ends up with a full upgrade but I haven't found it useful enough most of the time.

Nathan: I've also found that one to be... fine. Another cool idea that isn't quite powerful enough.

Chris: I also really like the dynamic of this plot a lot. Melinoë is Zag's sister and her family has been kidnapped by Chronos, so when you start the game she's kinda camped out with Hecate, her teacher, trying to stop his onslaught. 

After the first game it is a real question of "where do you go with this plot" because Zagreus can't just be perpetually pissed at his dad, and so it adds a really nice twist to the family dynamic. It's also a very witchy game as a result.

Nathan: I love that Chronos is Hades’ dad. Now he gets a taste of his own medicine. And yes, it’s SO witchy. “Big boiling cauldron in the middle of the hub area” witchy.

Chris: You legit have a cauldron. It's pretty great. And yeah, Greek mythology is built on family dysfunction so it's only fair to go back to the source (not Chaos, but you know what I mean).

Nathan: The other characters are really solid, too. Again, at first I was worried they might be too similar to favorites from the first game — Nemesis gives off similar vibes to Meg, etc — but once you peel back their layers, they reveal some really interesting narrative (and gameplay!) wrinkles. Also, the more incidental characters absolutely rule. I adore Narcissus. His voice actor sounds like a coked-up Nic Cage, and he’s constantly telling himself how great he looks while maintaining that a clearly disinterested Melinoe can’t be anything more than friends with him because of how many times he’s been burned by his own beauty. The fact that his art is currently a featureless placeholder only adds to the effect

Chris: Yeah whenever you see a cloaked figure it's like, TBD. I am pretty sure Hesita's art got patched halfway through the week, so now she looks like a matronly British woman. Also I don't think I have met everyone but I also don't think everyone is in here yet.

Nathan: For sure, though I will say that a lot of characters show up over time. I’m at a point now where, in Hades 1, I would have met a sizable chunk of the cast, but I feel like I’m still just scratching the surface — in a somewhat literal sense that you will understand soon, if you don’t already — in this one.


Chris: To be fair, I haven't beaten it yet but I also have been trying to savor it. Not to "fans of the genre" this, but this game feels like a foregone conclusion for people that are already bought in. If you are wondering if they still have the juice, the answer is yeah. It also isn't just the first game, although there's a lot of the first game in there. Want more Hades? You will definitely enjoy Hades 2.

Nathan: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of the first game in this one, though I think it’s worth noting that this game uses callbacks and old characters really intelligently. They appear infrequently and impactfully enough to create “holy shit” moments rather than mindless fan service.

Chris: They do a fun bit to remind you that the game does indeed look much better than the first.

Nathan: But yeah, it’s more Hades — at the same level of quality or perhaps an even higher one. Supergiant has used the past three years wisely, and I can’t wait to see how they use the next many months (or years?) as well.

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