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Hades II Releases In Early Access Today, So Cancel Your Plans

Clear your schedule.

Hades II
Hades 2

It’s finally time once again to lose every spare second you have to dive into the fresh hells of Hades. Four years after the original game’s release, Hades II is now available in Early Access on Steam and the Epic Games Store. We don’t yet know how long the wait for Hades II’s full release will be, but the original game remained in Early Access for nearly two years.

A few players have already gotten their hands on Hades II through a short technical test period. The test lasted just two weeks, giving a small group access to the first zone of the game, with the chance to challenge the game’s first boss. Supergiant Games said that brief test helped the developer “solve any technical issues we might have missed thus far,” so it seems all the punishment handed out to players by the game’s new enemies was worth it.

Hades II was announced with a trailer at The Game Awards 2022.

The technical test officially wrapped up on April 29, with Supergiant saying the Early Access launch would follow “relatively soon.” As it turns out, relatively soon meant just one week.

Even during the brief technical test, Hades II already looks extremely promising. “Supergiant Games has learned all the right lessons with its first sequel: it’s not just more of the same,” Hayes Madsen wrote in Inverse’s technical test preview. Having gotten my hands on the Early Access version ahead of launch, I have to agree.

Hades II is the first sequel Supergiant Games has ever made. I still have mixed feelings about the studio sticking with Hades instead of continuing its tradition of doing something wildly different each time it releases a game, but there’s no denying that Hades II is so much more than a retread of what already works. New protagonist and princess of the underworld Melinoë feels quite different from her big brother, Zagreus, owing to some big additions to the game’s combat system.

In the original game, you could hold down the basic attack button for a charged strike. Now, your special and cast abilities also have empowered versions, and these charged attacks all cost a new magic resource that’s only refillable by collecting more from rare environmental objects or by using upgrades. On one of my early runs through Hades II, I stacked abilities that refilled my magic when I stood in my own area-of-effect cast and gave a chance to refill it on normal attacks. With functionally unlimited magic, that left me free to use empowered attacks to my heart’s content. Just that one tweak to the combat system makes Hades II like something totally new, which has me hopeful for how future updates with transform the game.

Melinoë takes Zagreus’ place in the sequel, descending into the same underworld that her brother once sought to escape.

Supergiant Games

Just as it does with combat, Hades II builds on the original’s storytelling via repetition in some interesting ways. In the first Hades, Zagreus was fighting his way out of the underworld to meet the mother he just learned existed in the mortal world. This time around, Melinoë is taking the reverse journey, descending into the depths to challenge the titan Chronos, who’s taken over Hades’ domain. There’s also a mysterious sealed gate, leading up to the surface full of Greek gods. Compared to the original Hades, the sequel leaves much more up to players’ imagination at first. While you know Melinoë is out for the titan’s divine blood, exactly what’s gone down in the underworld since the first game is only slowly revealed through multiple attempts at the game.

So far, it’s clear that when it comes to combat, Hades II will scratch a similar itch as the original game. But Hades’ story was just as important to the game’s success as its excellent battle system, and that remains the biggest unknown in the sequel. No matter how excellent it already feels to fight in Hades II, it can only really live up to the beloved original if it finds a way to shake up its storytelling as well.

Now that Hades II is out in Early Access, you can decide for yourself whether Melinoë’s journey is as good as Zagreus’ was. Supergiant Games says its Early Access launch has roughly the same amount of content as its predecessor, with major updates planned over time. Even in the brief time we’ve had with it so far, Hades II already looks like it’s shaping up to be a worthy successor to one of the best roguelike games ever. The only question now is how much time you can afford to lose to the game in Early Access before its eventual 1.0 release.

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