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Hades II - Video Preview

We've hacked, slashed, and dashed in Supergiant's new roguelike.

Audio transcription

"Hades, Supergiant Games magnum opus is a game so beloved by fans of roguelikes that to many it is synonymous with the genre and the heights it can reach. Demands for a DLC or sequel were piling up as soon as the credits rolled for many. The only question for Supergiant after delivering such a tremendous game was where do they go from here? It turns out the answer is down. Pause, wait, I mean that in the most literal sense as rather than clambering up and out of Hades this time around we're fighting from the forgotten fields of Erebus all the way down and back into the depths of the underworld following the titan of time Cronos taking hold of Hades' realm and waging war once more on Olympus. Gone is the bloody, grandiose and oddly welcoming house of Hades along with most of the characters we held dear from the first game. The cheeky chappy Zagreus is currently MIA and so it falls to his sister, the princess of darkness Melanoe to bring down the titan. Rather than acting as the rebellious youth that we are in the first Hades, disobeying but never really betraying our father in the search for our mother, we are in Hades II thrust into the front lines of a war that threatens the very heavens themselves. It's a massive change in terms of what's at stake and in less capable hands it could have felt incredibly jarring. There is a disconnect between Hades and its sequel but it feels at all times intentional, from the bare bones atmosphere of your camp at the crossroads to the new depictions of the gods and goddesses as they prepare for war. As a long time fan of the first game, I couldn't help but feel slightly disheartened, longing for the peaceful, jubile atmosphere of the first game."

"Supergiant has done a great job here at making the new setting feel different without looking alien. Like its predecessor, Hades II immediately transports you to and immerses you in a strange, dangerous place that is still so beautiful and full of deep, interesting characters that you can't help but want to spend time there. Forgive me for blathering on about the narrative and setting so much but this is where the most notable changes in Hades II are. Gameplay wise Supergiant's solid gold formula shines yet again. Fast paced combat revolving around hacking, slashing and dashing is just as fluid and fun to play as it is in the original Hades."

"Your regular attacks, specials and casts can all be bolstered by various upgrades, the vast majority of which come from the gods up on Mount Olympus. Hestia, Selene and Apollo are just a few of the new faces which make their presence known this time around, complete with new and lovely hand-drawn designs. These new boons and the new weapons you can use shake up Melanoe's combat in comparison to Zagreus' fighting styles, but the largest change you're going to notice in the combat is that of a secondary resource you use for stronger, special and regular attacks. As a witch as well as a goddess, Melanoe has many tricks up her sleeve and thus her options are a tad more varied. Rather than her cast just being a projectile that sticks in and pops out of enemies, Melanoe can trap enemies in a wide area of effect before blasting them for big damage if you hold the button down."

"There are some other minor tweaks too, like the addition of silk armour you can pick up, giving your health an extra boost if needed, as well as an extra effect that lasts as long as your extra health does. Outside of combat, Hades 2 has stepped up its game when it comes to resource gathering. Rather than just setting out with your fishing rod off into the depths of hell each run, Melanoe can equip herself with a pick to mine silver, a tablet that can bring stray shades back to camp, a spade to dig for flowers and of course the trusty fishing rod as well. At the Great Witch's Cauldron in front of Hecate at the Crossroads you can upgrade your camp, add extra resources along your task and further the story using the resources you pick up with each item you equip. The only problem is you're only allowed to bring one item out with you on each run, so if you spot some silver and you've only got your trusty spade, well you're out of luck."

"So far I would say I've struggled to say whether Hades 2 offers more or less of a challenge than the first game. In some senses it is more difficult. You only get one death defiance for example, or two if you equip a certain keepsake. Your health starts off much lower and the ways to recover it have largely been nerfed by the looks of things. On the other hand Melanoe herself feels a tad stronger than Zagreus in what she gets in her basic kit. The ability to ensnare enemies is very strong and can get you out of tight spots quite easily. It also feels like it's going to take more time to properly fill out your upgrade branches as well, as unlike in the Mirror of Loss from the first game you can't always beeline for the skill you want. Some are hidden until you upgrade their adjacent cards and you'll quickly find yourself needing to save up ashes from multiple runs just for one upgrade."

"For the audio and visual experience, Hades 2 is an incredible feast for the eyes and ears. There's a song in the second zone which will quickly be going to my regular listening playlist when it becomes available, and otherwise the general music you hear while smashing your way through enemies is largely great too. Characters and their designs once more are packed with personality. Some are exactly as I imagine their Greek myth counterpart while others have gone in a different but still visually pleasing direction. And of course those characters would be little without the stellar voice acting that Supergiant is well known for at this point."

"Hades 2, unlike its predecessor, has an incredible amount of pressure put on its launch, even in early access. Four years after the first game released, most are hoping for a pretty complete experience right out of the gate. And I have to say Supergiant has done an impressive job in putting out a game that still has some ways to go but in no way feels like a disservice to the original. There are certain things you'll spot are missing. Character portraits aren't all there for instance, but on the other hand a great amount of work has been done to bring about an experience that still exudes excellence all the same."

"As Melanoe is to Zagreus, Hades 2 is a worthy successor to the original game thus far. The plot has taken great leaps forward, and while some may criticise the gameplay formula for being largely similar to what came before, when you're onto a winner, it might just be best not to deviate from it, even if it's not yet finished. Hades 2 is still an excellent way to kill time."

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