Hades 2 review: "The roguelike DNA at the heart of this sequel remains as tight and cutthroat as its predecessor"

Hades 2 announcement trailer
(Image: © Supergiant Games)

Early Verdict

There's a little bit of polish left to apply, but given the sheer increase in scope between Hades 2 and its predecessor, that's more than understandable. A hugely ambitious roguelike, with an improved progression loop and grander narrative, but the same ruthlessness in play and charm in worldbuilding as the original, makes this an astounding early access success.


  • +

    The same excellent combat as the original

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    Greater skill expression with magic system

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    Far grander narrative ambition


  • -

    Difficulty curve is a little wobbly

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    Some artwork is missing

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Hades 2 has grabbed me with everything it's got. It's sunk its teeth, hooks, and claws into me alongside any other lacerating appendage that Greek mythology can think up. Developer Supergiant Games presents the genre's 'one more run' loop so impeccably that I don't want to be at work, I don't want to go to bed, I just want to take on Chronos again. And yet, for all that, it's hard to pin down what makes this roguelike sequel so impressive.

Fast Facts

Release date: May 6, 2024
Platform(s): PC
Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Supergiant Games

In part, that's because it will be instantly familiar to any fan of the original game. Within moments of starting the Hades 2 Early Access offering, I could feel my muscle memory of the original game flowing back into my fingers. New protagonist Melinoë isn't a carbon copy of brother Zagreus, but she dashes and slices her way through the hordes of the underworld in such a way that the family resemblance isn't difficult to see. Different weapons allow for different styles – from a blisteringly fast dagger and sickle combo to a slow but devastating axe – and divine boons further diverge distinct playstyles, but the roguelike DNA at the heart of this sequel remains as tight and cutthroat as its predecessor.

Where Hades 2 differs most is with Melinoë herself. Raised away from the house of Hades under the care of Hecate, Goddess of Magic, Melinoë has a few new tricks. Her basic melee attack combos and ranged special moves are accompanied by 'Casts', an ensnaring area-of-effect attack that holds incoming foes at bay for a few seconds. It took a while to get to grips with, but it's become one of the best new additions to Hades 2, its ability to stop enemies in their tracks a brilliant bit of skill-expressive crowd control that's pivotal in later stages.

Melinoë also has access to Omega skills, empowered abilities that take a moment to charge, and cost mana to cast. These skills can augment attacks, specials, and casts – and differ with each unique weapon, granting a host of opportunities to further diversify your approach with each run. The associated mana cost also powers up another of Melinoë's tricks; sometimes, in place of a traditional divine bonus, you're visited by moon goddess Selune, who offers a powerful extra ability that's activated after you've spent a particular amount of mana. The changes are limited, but they're enough to ensure that Hades 2 doesn't feel like a simple rehash of its predecessor, the risk-reward of this smart but optional loop diversifying each run far beyond your choice of weapons or divine favors.


Hades 2

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

The divinities behind those favors are further evidence of Supergiant's confidence in its original formula. Returning gods include the likes of Zeus and Poseidon, their rapid lightning strikes or percussive water spouts each lending a very different feel to their runs. But a host of new characters offer their own styles; my favorite boon from the gruff blacksmith Hephaestus offers the chance to demolish an enemy with a powerful explosive attack every few seconds; the matronly Hestia offers the ability to Scorch enemies, chipping away at the health more gradually. 

Even with an expanded roster, it feels easy to latch onto the core of a run and build around it. With Zeus, I might opt for faster attack speed to optimize my chain lightning; with Demeter, I might play slower, freezing enemies or holding them in place with enhanced Casts before following up with more powerful, augmented attacks; I might opt for a mana-focused Selune build, or tank up with the help of the Arachne encounter and an armor-stacking build.

More than just tools for your run, the characters that help shape those builds flit around the edges of your narrative. Just as they did for the many millennia of stories leading up to the original Hades, the gods and demi-gods of Greek myth bicker, snipe, flirt, and undermine. But whereas in the original Hades they often felt like set-dressing for a distinctly personal narrative between Zagreus and his father, in the sequel they have much more to contribute to the broader story. 

As Melinoë advances on her attempt to overthrow Chronos, it's made clear how personal the stakes are for each of these visiting divinities. Hades 2's narrative meanders much more openly, and the characters that it touches have far more to say. Stylish, confident, but most importantly flawed, they're part of a story that's more ambitious, yet feels an even more integral part of this sequel, despite what genre conventions might suggest.

The (Cross)road ahead 

Hades 2

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

An increased narrative ambition is symptomatic of a game that's reaching far beyond what it's done before. Hades 2 is massive, every part of itself bigger than its predecessor. Progression is no longer a case of simply amassing resources to spend on upgrades, but of balancing a host of materials found in wildly different parts of the game and collected with tools that have to be carefully selected based on your needs. More complex build patterns help fill sprawling combat encounters with excellent (if frustrating) enemy variety. The Crossroads is a bigger hub world, the center of a more confidently-told narrative that leans even further into the bizarre nature of this mythology. And without wanting to veer into spoiler territory, Melinoë's crusade against Chronos is quite literally only the half of it.

There's a cost to all that increased scope. Hades 2 isn't quite finished cooking, and there's a handful of placeholder art that, in spite of its unreadiness, I still enjoy seeing – one of those all-too-rare peeks behind the curtain. There are a handful of balance tweaks I'm hoping to see, the difficulty spikes of later stages provided by both the understandable increase in enemy complexity, but also the much less enjoyable increase in enemy density. It is, however, already, unquestionably, an excellent roguelike. 

The frantic speed and intensity of the hacking, slashing, dashing combat that shaped the first game is expanded on just as successfully as the flirtatious charm that helped the original Hades carve out a narrative niche in a genre that had rejected traditional storytelling for much of its 40-year history. For now, vengeance against Chronos still eludes my Melinoë, but Hades 2 is a game that I know will keep me coming back long after the Titan has fallen.


Hades 2 was reviewed in Early Access, with a code provided by the publisher.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.