Hades 2 Is Letting Select Players Explore the Underworld Ahead of Early Access

See you in hell.

key art from Hades 2
Supergiant Games

Back at The Game Awards 2022, we first learned that the best indie game of 2020 is getting a sequel. While we still have a long way to go until the full launch, you can get your hands on Hades II soon — or at least, a little bit of it. Developer Supergiant Games has announced a technical test for Hades II ahead of its Early Access debut later this year.

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that this technical test is just a small glimpse at Hades II. Unlike its upcoming Early Access launch, which will let anyone who wants to explore the game in development over a year or more, the technical test will let only a small number of players in to play the first area of Hades II. The point of the test is to ensure that the game is running smoothly before Early Access opens it up to a much wider player base, and it’s expected to last less than a month.

Hades II was a surprising reveal at the 2022 Game Awards.

“Even if you aren't invited to the Technical Test right away, you may still be invited later,” according to Supergiant Games. “Our process boils down to: invite some players, fix any problems they run into, invite more players, and so on.”

The technical test is set to end just as Early Access begins, so if you manage to get into the test, you’re essentially getting a preview of the first phase of Early Access. Interested fans can sign up on the Hades II Steam page, and those selected will be notified via email later. Supergiant Games hasn’t said exactly when the technical test will be starting, but we’re expecting it to be quite soon. The Hades II Early Access release is scheduled for Q2 2024, meaning some time in the next two months.

The timing of the technical test’s announcement — just one day before Nintendo Indie World — had some fans hoping that its start date would be revealed at the event. Alas, just like Hollow Knight: Silksong, Hades II passed up the golden opportunity. Given the hype around both games, they could easily carry an entire showcase on their own, so their absence isn’t shocking, even if they would have been a nice surprise.

Melinoë takes over for her brother Zagreus in Hades II.

Supergiant Games

Regardless of when the technical test launches, there’s no doubt that Hades II is going to be huge. The original Hades was a massive success for Supergiant Games, which had already been putting out solid indie hits like Bastion, Pyre, and Transistor for years. Hades was on a totally different level, though, with its pitch-perfect combat and the ingenious way the game used its roguelike structure to tell its story.

It may seem like a guarantee that Hades II will be just as big of a hit, but it is facing some challenges that the original didn’t. For one, this is the first time Supergiant Games has made a sequel. Some long-time fans of the studio, myself included, were a little disappointed to hear that it was breaking its streak of starting fresh each time, even if Hades II looks excellent. With a sequel, Supergiant Games will need to bring some original ideas to their already successful formula to get players just as invested the second time around.

Hades II needs to find a new way to thrill players to stand out from the games Hades already inspired.

Supergiant Games

The sequel is also up against the fact that Hades has become something of a template for other indies. Just as Dark Souls ushered in an age of Soulslikes that still dominates a huge portion of games, Hades spawned countless imitators. Just last week, the Triple-i Initiative spotlighted upcoming games from major indie publishers, and the influence of Hades was apparent in a large portion of them. A look through Steam’s latest indies shows that it’s a much larger trend, with combat and character building systems nearly identical to those in Hades found in dozens of games. None has come close to Hades-level success, but the sequel is still competing with them for attention. Where the first Hades established a subgenre of its own, Hades II is just one more entry into that genre, meaning it will have to be extraordinary to feel like it’s offering something as new as the original game.

Given Supergiant Games, it seems safe to say that that’s likely to happen. The studio has made a name for itself on its games’ excellent stories and clever mechanics, and Hades II looks no different. This time around, Zagreus’ sister, Melinoë, is making her way through the underworld to slay the Titan Chronos, armed with unique powers and aided by new allies. And with the technical test just around the horizon, fans don’t have much longer to wait to see how Melinoë’s adventure stacks up to her big brother’s.

Hades II will launch in Early Access on Steam in Q2 2024.

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