Thursday , May 23 2024

‘Hades II’ Early Access Review: Lightning of the Gods Captured Again

My family has been torn apart and Chronos is sitting on my father’s throne laughing while we lick our wounds. I can’t even see them and he is free to roam our sacred halls.

The Gods say they are on our side, but I know they are waiting to see how we strike back at Chronos to get our realm back. He did not attack Olympus after all, just the Underworld, just our home.

The Headmistress Hecate has been training me; she is a Titan as well but understands the threat Chronos poses. He wants to solidify his hold over time, if that happens we are all doomed.

We are almost ready to start pushing our way back to the Underworld. I have been tasked with this, Nemesis is angry, but it is on me to do this, the Fates have foretold it. I need to be stronger though, and like my brother I may need to get stronger through defeat before I can succeed.

My spear is ready, my spells are poised and we have the plans of Odysseus to rely on. We will fail, but each time I will get back up and keep coming for Chronos until he is no more than dust in an hourglass.

Developer Supergiant Games made a big splash with their breakout title Bastion and have gone on to release consistently excellent games. Hades, though, was their biggest hit by far and for the first time ever they have made a sequel. Friends, it is a stunning and nuanced follow-up to the original title.

Hades II follows Melinoë, a Princess of the Underworld, daughter of Hades and Persephone and younger sister of Zagreus, the protagonist of the original Hades. She is secluded in a protected area as Chronos has taken over Hades’ realm and is threatening all the Gods preparing to take the fight back to him.

This setup introduces us to a host of new characters, from Titans Hecate and Selune to heroes like Odysseus and fellow Gods Nemesis and Moros. Many important figures return from Hades, in particular gods like Zeus, Hermes, and Apollo, to give Melinoë boons to help her in her crusade to end Chronos.

Gameplay-wise Hades II is very much like its predecessor – you choose a type of weapon that has a few attack options. Boons are granted during the journey that add effects, perks, special attacks or resiliency and the goal is to try and survive long enough to meet Chronos.

Features like dashing to avoid attacks, holding buttons for special actions, and leveraging environmental traps are very familiar and as easy to pick up as ever. The tweaks to the game are more in the extras that are packed in and the insane amount of character and story development.

New systems like the cauldron to brew spells (which are permanently in effect), tarot cards to add perks to each run, and planting/discovering resources add a great series of dynamics to the game. These new features are overwhelming at first, as there really is no tutorial system, they just get discovered as you collect resources and play, but once understood they are interesting additions to the formula.

What impressed me most about Hades II are the characters, story bits and interactions that are seemingly limitless. After each run new dialogue pops up, new tidbits, chances to gift characters or take a bath in hot springs, adding perks and new interactions between Melinoë and the other denizens of the realm.

Literally every character is interesting, incredibly represented visually and has fantastically implemented voice acting. This feature of the game is so fleshed out it is almost shocking to see considering this is Early Access.

Hades II one of the most polished games I have played despite launching with the Early Access tag. Gameplay is tight, the game has yet to trigger a bug or crash, and content-wise the game is oozing with replayability and enjoyment.

The launch of Hades II was a bit of a surprise and it has delivered the developer their highest concurrent play count in history. It is so well received that a roguelike Prince of Persia game is being delayed just so it doesn’t get overshadowed.

Without hesitation I can say Hades II is among the best games in recent memory and a must-play immediately. It will just keep getting better as the team adds levels and features which will be free to all who buy the game in Early Access. Hades II is available right now on PC via Steam.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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