Hades 2 Has the Perfect Villain

Ending time.

Hades 2
SuperGiant Games

The original Hades was a brilliant reinvention of the roguelike genre, but simultaneously a fascinating look at the complexity of relationships between parents and children, and the importance of forgiveness. Part of what made the original game such a hit was how well it tied all its narrative themes into every facet of the roguelike experience, especially in how it cast the titular character as the villain. Hades 2 has done it again, creating an even more compelling villain that’s eerie, fascinating, and ties the whole game together with a nice thematic bow. Somehow, SuperGiant Games has managed to outdo themselves again.

Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for Hades II. While we’ll avoid talking about major story spoilers, we will be discussing the game’s main villain.

At the very start of Hades 2 you learn about the main villain, and how the stakes from the first game have been ramped up drastically. The eldest Titan, Chronos, has taken over the Underworld and made Hades and the rest of his family disappear. Now it’s up to Melinoe, the long-lost daughter of Hades, to take it back. Of course, given the family tree of the gods of Olympus, that means Chronos is also Melinoe’s grandfather.

Chronos’ influence can be felt in every part of game, even altering the look of familiar areas.

SuperGiant Games

In the first Hades, the roguelike cycle represents Zagreus breaking free from the shackles of his father, forging his own path ahead, and rebuilding a burned relationship. These themes color the entire game, and help turn Hades into a deeply introspective — and emotional — journey for Zagreus. Hades 2 similarly has thematic layers, but at an even greater depth than the first game.

Melinoe grew up separate from her family, never knowing her famed father, mother, or brother. It’s fitting, then, that in order to save her relatives she has to deal with the estranged grandfather. Both Melinoe and Hades have been separated from the nuclear family, but for the polar opposite reasons. Those themes of family and forgiveness are still a large part of Hades 2, but past that Chronos works as a villain on a metatextual level, emphasizing the very act of playing a video game.

Chronos is the Greek god of time, and Hades 2 finds some fun ways to play with that idea. On the most basic level, video games are time sinks. That’s especially true for a game like Hades 2, where you’re sinking countless hours into different runs, methodically getting better and better, and making it further. You’re quite literally fighting time, and the more time you put into Hades 2, the more you get out of it. Chronos’ boss battle even puts a fun twist on things by breaking immersion and not letting you pause. If you try and pause during the battle Chronos exclaims, “You don’t have control over time here,” and instantly boots you out of the menu, chastising you for using the family’s “favorite trick.”

Time is always something you have to be aware of in Hades 2, even on the most basic of levels, like harvesting plants.

SuperGiant Games

But the idea of using time runs so much deeper than that, it’s weaved into nearly every gameplay element. Time dictates everything. Many of Melinoe’s Arcana are dependent on time, like getting a boost to Health and Magic for every five rooms you complete. Features at your base, like planting seeds, require time to complete. Then there’s the last biome of the Underworld, which makes time an all-important mechanic. The longer you spend in the last area the more enemies get thrown at you, meaning you need to weigh if splitting off to get upgrades is worth it.

Time is everything in Hades 2. That means Chronos’ influence seeps into everything, his hand moving against you at all times. The longer you spend playing Hades 2, the more he’s succeeded in stalling your efforts. In that way, the villain of Hades 2 isn’t just the character of Chronos, but everything you’re doing in the game.

Only “time” will tell how the family dynamics of Hades 2 plays out, but SuperGiant has crafted a phenomenal villain with this sequel, who ties into both the emotional core and every new gameplay idea the developer has crammed in.

Hades 2 is available for PC in Early Access.

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