Hades 2 is doing everything right so far in its Technical Test

Slight evolutions, nothing too fancy
Supergiant Games

The Hades 2 Technical Test is currently ongoing, allowing players to pore over the roguelike up to the first boss. Supergiant Games wants to use this opportunity to gather bug reports and get the game polished for its Early Access release later in 2024. After you’ve beaten the boss five times, the developers suggest you put the game down – so here I am, adhering to the decree, craving more, and writing about it in order to cope.

I’ve played the Hades 2 Technical Test almost entirely on my Steam Deck and ran into a bug exactly one time – a text description of a boon wasn’t in the right place, overwriting other text. That’s all there was in terms of visible errors, at least for me. Controls and performance on Steam Deck couldn’t be smoother.

When it comes to content, of course, the Technical Test is limited – both because things are being held back and because some stuff simply isn’t done yet. Some characters and trinkets use placeholder art, for example.

As such, it’s not fair to rate the game at this point. Getting up to the first boss on – what felt to me like – the standard difficulty and then getting reset back to the start is hardly sufficient to make a judgment on a roguelike.

What I do want to share, though, is that I think Supergiant is doing everything right with Hades 2 – it looks, sounds, and plays familiar to the original, incorporating slight evolutions here and there that have the potential to shake up the game down the line without losing sight of what made the first game so great. Others may be disappointed by the lack of revolutionary changes, but I quite like that you can dive in without having to relearn the basics. Frankly, if you’ve made one of the best entries into a genre ever, then you deserve to reuse that recipe as a basis.

Hades 2 screenshot.
Melinoë, princess of the underworld, is a great protagonist right from the start. / Supergiant Games

Melinoë, our new protagonist, knows a few tricks Zagreus didn’t have up his sleeve, thanks to her upbringing as a witch. She can use arcane energy – which is shown as a second resource bar on top of HP – to enhance her normal attack, her special, and her cast to Ω versions. These not only offer more power, but often have different utilities. This system makes Melinoë’s kit feel even more versatile, which is great, and clearly differentiates her from her brother mechanically as well as thematically.

Naturally, this opens a ton of different interactions and synergies with boons and keepsakes, paving the way for completely new playstyles. I’ve found myself very much enjoying the magic and toying around with builds relying on it – again, speaking of “builds” is somewhat difficult as there are only so many boons and power-ups available until you get to the first boss.

Another addition is Melinoë’s sprint, which can be upgraded with boons as well – in fact, I think people will be able to create entire builds centered around their sprint, which could be really fun. There is also synergy between the sprint and the magic to be found. So many possibilities.

Armor is a well-known gameplay mechanic from the first game and reappears in the sequel, but not only for enemies. In Hades 2, Melinoë can gain some armor to bolster her health pool. There is even a new – and very adorable – NPC from the great cast of Greek mythology who awaits players as a random room encounter and provides clothes. These come with some interesting effects that remain active as long as you have some armor value – which gives you another resource to manage and consider when making decisions later on. Donning these clothes even changes how Melinoë’s character model looks, which is a cool detail.

Resource gathering for the meta-progression is a bit more involved this time as well, as the protagonist can not only choose a weapon to take with her on a run, but also a gathering tool. While the trusty fishing rod will once again allow you to take bounty from the water, tools like the pickaxe, spade, or tablet of peace will enable you to gather other materials needed to advance. Even the weather plays a role, with rain causing different ingredients to sprout.

Once again, keepsakes can change the strategy of your run, while a deck of arcane cards that Melinoë can unlock provides her with some additional bonuses.

In terms of atmosphere, visuals, and soundtrack, Hades 2 doesn’t shy away from its iconic predecessor so far, and I’m already hooked by the story presented this time around, which is a fun subversion of the original’s narrative. I also want to know about the new characters and the events that transpired between the two games, but all of that will come in due time.

Long story short: Hades 2 is as much fun as Hades already, so I can’t wait to see where the crew at Supergiant Games takes this particular odyssey throughout Early Access.


Published
Marco Wutz

MARCO WUTZ

Marco Wutz is a writer from Parkstetten, Germany. He has a degree in Ancient History and a particular love for real-time and turn-based strategy games like StarCraft, Age of Empires, Total War, Age of Wonders, Crusader Kings, and Civilization as well as a soft spot for Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail. He began covering StarCraft 2 as a writer in 2011 for the largest German community around the game and hosted a live tournament on a stage at gamescom 2014 before he went on to work for Bonjwa, one of the country's biggest Twitch channels. He branched out to write in English in 2015 by joining tl.net, the global center of the StarCraft scene run by Team Liquid, which was nominated as the Best Coverage Website of the Year at the Esports Industry Awards in 2017. He worked as a translator on The Crusader Stands Watch, a biography in memory of Dennis "INTERNETHULK" Hawelka, and provided live coverage of many StarCraft 2 events on the social channels of tl.net as well as DreamHack, the world's largest gaming festival. From there, he transitioned into writing about the games industry in general after his graduation, joining GLHF, a content agency specializing in video games coverage for media partners across the globe, in 2021. He has also written for NGL.ONE, kicker, ComputerBild, USA Today's ForTheWin, The Sun, Men's Journal, and Parade. Email: marco.wutz@glhf.gg