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Hades II: Looks like Supergiant has created another masterpiece

Hades II screenshot
Image: Supergiant Games

You might have gathered this from Hades II’s cover woman, but there’s no Zagreus this time around. At least not in the beginning, anyway, and not as a playable character. Instead, you’re cast as Melinoë, the Princess of the Underworld and, funnily enough, Zagreus’ younger sister.

As Hades II picks up, you’re informed that Melinoë’s family — that’s Zagreus, and her parents Hades and Persephone — are missing. And it won’t come as much of a surprise that it falls on your dainty but powerful shoulders to find them. There’s a different story this time around, then, and a new protagonist with a wealth of new abilities at her mercy — but this is very much Hades in every way that matters.

We’ve spent some time with Hades II’s playtest, running through an early section of the game. We’ve tested out a couple of different weapons, some new abilities and a variety of different skills. Melinoë is swift, talented; just like her brother. Being in control of her leaves you feeling powerful but vulnerable: you’ll need to be quick with the reactions of a cat to truly shine in this action-packed roguelike. But like the first game, practice makes perfect. Death is inevitable here, and new conversations and character interactions await you back in the Underworld before you jump back in for another fight. Heck, maybe you’ll want to fail just to see what Hecate, Arachne and Odysseus have to say to you.

Hades II screenshot
Image: Supergiant Games

Like the first, Hades II is shaping up to be the sort of game that has something for everyone. If you care deeply about narrative, it weaves a rich, beautiful world in which to entrench yourself in, filled with intricately created characters. If you’re all about the action, you can gloss over everything else if you want, fully devoting yourself to the abilities of Melinoë and mastering her moves like a ninja ballerina.

Even in this short playtest, we’ve been able to experience numerous skills, all of them a joy to use — even if they do take a while to master. Like Hades, Hades II will dole out new abilities regularly: each time you clear a room of enemies you’ll get a perk of some sort. It’s dynamic, it’s fast-paced and, like the best kind of roguelike, each time you play genuinely feels different. In a dozen runs, we haven’t had the same set of core skills, and we love that.

Related: Forget Hades, Pyre is Supergiant Games’ most inspired work

What really stands out about Hades II, though, is that it still has Supergiant’s unique roots running through its core. We’re reminded of the company’s first game, Bastion, as we run around its environments; its art style, the feeling of controlling Melinoë. We’ve been here time and time again, and we’re always glad to be back. It may be Supergiant’s first official sequel, but its games share DNA that’s impossible to ignore — even Transistor, even Pyre. We love that.

Hades II screenshot
Image: Supergiant Games

Starting a new Supergiant Game, then, feels welcoming, familiar, and Hades II is no different. That said, you’re going to sink into this much easier if you know Hades like the back of your hand. There are many of the same characters here, the same rules, the same lore that draws on Greek mythology. You could jump into Hades II without having played the first game, but you won’t get the same out of it, we reckon. If you haven’t yet, you probably should plan to play Hades first — you’ve got time.

The playtest has only given us a little taste of what Hades II Is set to offer, but we’re sold on it already. As if we needed convincing, given Supergiant Games’ pedigree. It’s as beautiful and detailed as anything the company has made so far, and we’re looking forward to diving deeper into its rendition of the Underworld, filled with its larger-than-life characters and ass-kicking nemeses. Bring it on. Bring it all on.

There’s no release date for Hades II yet, but it’ll be launching into Early Access before a full version 1.0 is unleashed upon the world. We expect the early access version to be available in the next couple of months — if not sooner.

Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.