Hades II Technical Test Field Report

Avatar image for allthedinos
ALLTheDinos

1175

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

7

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

Edited By ALLTheDinos
I was too engrossed in the game to take any action screenshots, OK?!?
I was too engrossed in the game to take any action screenshots, OK?!?

Note: This blog contains unmarked spoilers for Hades, as well as unmarked spoilers for the mechanics of Hades II. Story elements included in the technical test of Hades II have been marked as spoilers, with the exception of the main character’s name and general descriptions of the supporting cast.

The first thing I would like to say about Hades II is that while I have no idea how many people were given access to the technical test, I feel incredibly lucky to have been one of them. The second thing I will say is that I wish I could keep playing it. The tech test is limited to the hub world and the first dungeon area of the game, including its boss. After beating the boss for the first time (on my third overall run), a message popped up informing me that after 5 clears of the first area, my time with the tech test would be over. The game even made a crack about time being “cruelly cut short” for the protagonist, who is named Melinoë, before sending me back to the hub world in the same manner Zagreus experienced after each successful run in the first game. I debated taking a dive on the final boss just to keep the tech test going, but pride sure is a motherfucker.

Right off the bat, this game feels like more Hades. If you’re familiar with the first game, you will very quickly fall into the same rhythm from your past experience. Ordinarily, I would say that this would be a bit of a disappointment. However, this is Hades we’re talking about, and more of “one of the best games of the last decade, possibly ever” is unequivocally a good thing. The first key difference is the inclusion of a magic bar, which fuels your more powerful attacks (called “Omegas”). Your basic attack, special attack, and Cast all have Omegas, and these range from rooting your enemies to the ground to teleporting behind an enemy for a backstab, in their most basic incarnations. Boons may also alter how magic is used and/or regenerated. Finally, by using enough magic points, you can charge up a “Hex” ultimate attack, mirroring the Calls from last game. I’ve only unlocked one Hex thus far, but each of my three options was transparent about how many magic points I would need to spend to recharge it. In short, the magic bar appears to be the most significant difference from Hades and perhaps the most intriguing wrinkle among returning mechanics.

Another difference from the previous game is that Melinoë can sprint by holding the dash button. Most of the boons that apply to the dash button that I saw are activated by sprinting, not by dashing. These include a knockback effect (that costs magic points per enemy affected) and destroying any nearby projectile while damaging the enemy that fired it. I ran into an early skill check for this new ability with a miniboss, where their projectiles were very hard to dodge just by tapping the button. When I faced it a second time, I was able to run circles around it and better choose my opportunities to get some damage in by deploying the sprint button at the right times. Dodging is still a key piece of the puzzle, and it has better visual prompts than the last game to inform you when it’s ready to be used again.

The two weapons that were available to me were the Witch’s Staff (which plays a lot like Zagreus’ spear) and the Sister Blades (which felt like a hybrid of the fists and bow). Both boons and the Daedelus Hammer make their return, and their impacts on playstyle are very similar to those in Hades. The boons in particular feel very similar to the previous game, though I’ll save the precise differences for the spoilers section below. Other familiar items such as pomegranates, coins, and Centaur Hearts make reappearances, joined by new upgrade currency rewards and the magic bar equivalent to the Centaur Heart. Sisyphus has been replaced in the first area, though again, see the spoiler section for more on that.

The hubworld, named The Crossroads, is also fairly familiar. You have a little bedroom area carved out for Melinoë, several people to talk to, a cauldron that functions very much like the Contractor in Hades, and other things that appear as you upgrade the hub. The Mirror of Night has been replaced with an Altar of Ashes, which allows you to unlock and equip tarot cards similar to the effects you got from spending Darkness. Another currency increases your limit on how many cards can be equipped. The tech test includes nine Tarot cards, and I have to imagine the grid will expand in the full version of the game. Next to the Altar is where you can equip weapons, limited to the two I mentioned earlier. Additionally, you can unlock and equip one Tool per run. This starts with a mining pickaxe that allows you to collect Silver, which is used in recipes and other unlockables. In theory, the Fishing Rod can be acquired as a Tool, though I hit the end of the tech test before I could unlock it. It was a little frustrating coming across another vein of Silver while I had another Tool equipped, but it adds another element of risk/reward to each run that’ll surely have me furrowing my brow at the training grounds every time.

Lastly, while the game does feel very complete for being a mere tech test, it definitely had some placeholder elements. There are a couple of characters I ran into with very similar designs, both lacking any detail on their face. It definitely didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, and it was a reminder that as good as it feels to play, it’s very much a work in progress. If what’s already present in this tech test was released in early access tomorrow, I think a lot of people would still be very satisfied. Speaking of early access, I saw a mention in the completion screen that threatened informed me how many times I’d completed a run that the early access version will be released “quite soon”. I’m fairly convinced that the game will come out in May, after they’ve had a chance to digest the data from tech test participants. I absolutely cannot wait to play the early access version, and I’m looking forward to watching the game’s progress after only jumping into the first game at 1.0.

OK, enough vague talk: let’s discuss some spoilers.

I forget how much has already been revealed through the press, but the general plot of the game is revenge against Chronos for killing(?) Melinoë’s family. She was apparently born to Persephone and Hades after the events of the last game, and Chronos attacked while Melinoë was an infant. Melinoë was subsequently raised by Hecate, the witch from the trailer, who is also the boss of the tech test. The interaction between Melinoë and Hecate is much more positive than that of Zagreus and Hades, best exemplified in a sequence that I unlocked after my first successful run. Hecate is playing hide and seek with Melinoë, and there’s a nice moment where Hecate stops to just appreciate her student’s laughter. The warm feelings extend to most of the supporting cast, many of whom fulfill the roles of Hades’ court advisers in the last game. I found that each successful run unlocked a little bit more story, and even my failures helped advance things along. It’s hard to say how it goes with such a limited slice, but I do know that I’m interested in unlocking it as soon as possible.

I hinted this before, but the boons slot in pretty neatly with those of Hades. There are several returning gods (Poseidon, Demeter, Aphrodite, and Zeus all made appearances for me), and Artemis appeared in the way that Thanatos popped into the occasional level last game. Her twin Apollo is new and more or less fulfills the Athena role, with some differences. Hestia added fire damage over time effects reminiscent of Dionysus, and Hephaestus added some abilities that I’m not sure map to anyone from the first game. Charon reappears in the same role as before, though his art is still TBD (and how I figured out that a certain character portrait was a placeholder). I haven’t seen any mention of Ares, though with the Olympians all dealing with a siege by Chronos’ armies, it would make sense for the God of war to be preoccupied. Arachne, who slots into the role fulfilled by Sisyphus and others, gave me armor that granted a special boon as long as it wasn’t broken. It was fun to see the returning gods’ personalities again, as well as seeing how the new gods and demigods fit into the already cozy picture.

I’ll end the spoiler section with some speculation. Poseidon made an offhand remark about Melinoë’s family being potentially held in thrall. I think this means that at some point, I’m pretty much guaranteed to be fighting Hades himself. The way the tech test began also might imply that Melinoë has already been successful in previous attempts to beat Chronos, and the trick is figuring out how to off him permanently. Finally, I feel like some elements inside The Crossroads might be bad news, and I’m very interested to see how those storylines develop in the full version. The first game had an undercurrent of threat and subversion by Zagreus in the hub world, and it would be fitting for that favor to be returned to the player in the sequel.

In short (too late), I can safely say that Hades II has justified its status as one of my most anticipated games of all time. Its predecessor was my Game of the Year, and there’s no reason to expect any less from this game, even when it’s just in early access. I definitely hope it’s available to everyone sooner rather than later.

Avatar image for manburger
Manburger

633

Forum Posts

28

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 7

Jealous! I don't know how many got access either, just that I'm not one of 'em :<

I'm trying not to ingest too much information before I dive in, but I'm glad you had a good time! I did play and enjoy the first game in early access, but even though I am stoked to play the sequel, I think I might actually wait for 1.0 with this one.

Avatar image for atheistpreacher
AtheistPreacher

899

Forum Posts

1

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#2  Edited By AtheistPreacher  Online

I'm definitely really looking forward to Hades II, but I think I'm also in a place where I may want to wait for it to be more complete before diving in rather than begin by playing a half-finished version. But I dunno. Maybe I won't be able to restrain myself. I certainly have no doubt that it'll end up being an excellent game.

Avatar image for therealturk
TheRealTurk

1414

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I have to admit some strange mixed feelings about this one.

Don't get me wrong - I love Hades. It was definitely GOTY material and better than 99% of the stuff that's been released since. Similarly, I'm sure sure Hades II will be really good because Supergiant makes good games.

Having said that, I can't help but be just a little disappointed that they made a sequel to Hades right away. I mean, I get it. Hades was super-successful and put that studio on the map for a more mainstream audience in a big way, so it makes sense they'd go back to that well. And I'm sure it will be really well-made and they'll have little twists to the gameplay to make it feel like a better iteration of Hades.

But that's kind of the thing - I'm not sure I really want Supergiant to be iterative studio. One of the things I appreciate most about Supergiant is that they aren't afraid to take a swing in different genres, so all their games end up feeling unique even though they clearly share DNA from the same studio. There's just a surprise factor I feel is kind of missing here. I don't mind them returning to Hades eventually, but I'd love to see their take on a tactics game, or a dating-sim, or city-builder.

Avatar image for atheistpreacher
AtheistPreacher

899

Forum Posts

1

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Well, now that it's entered Early Access, I have in fact taken the plunge. What are people thinking of it so far?

I've done five runs now. Reached Hecate on my second run but barely lost. Have beat her every time on runs 3-5 but have not beat the second area boss yet. I've also unlocked two of the alt weapons. but so far I prefer the default one. In the first game the Chiron bow with the seeking arrows was my favorite, but that first ranged-focused weapon I unlocked in this game seems disappointing. Of course there's loads still to unlock, I'm looking forward to continuing and watching the game unfold itself.

Avatar image for efesell
Efesell

7521

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#5  Edited By Efesell

Played for like 5 hours yesterday, hit third area boss and got wrecked. Got all the initial weapons, love the sword/sickle.

Mel is a very different vibe from Zagreus, but not in a bad way.

Very positive on it overall and honestly don’t see how it could lose me. The only minor issue I had was Strifes “blessing” which just feels like “Slow down a little Hades 1 player”.