Hades 2 is another Steam Deck banger, early access or no

by 24britishtvMay 7, 2024, 7:01 a.m. 26
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I’ve been sampling Hades 2’s early access build on the Steam Deck, and my only complaint – besides the smooching frog having eluded me for hours – is that it’s giving me very little to write about, performance analysis-wise. Honestly, it fits the dinky PC so well you’d have thought Supergiant had decided to make this roguelike sequel a Steam Deck game that just happened to run on desktops by accident.

Hades the first was much the same, taking to the Deck like Hercules to Augean shit, but Hades 2 barely even gives away that fact that it’s unfinished. It doesn’t crash, stutter, or hang, and there’s no point in talking about settings when it runs at a practically perfect 60fps on max quality. Make that 90fps on the Steam Deck OLED, too. It’s just a fabulous game for handhelds, even in its earliest of early access days.

The simple yet flowing controls suit the Deck’s thumksticks and face buttons perfectly – better than a mouse and keyboard, for sure – and while combat encounters are prone to filling up with a pantheon’s worth of power effects and projectiles, the little 800p screen is still enough to keep everything readable. So far I’ve only needed to call upon the SteamOS zoom feature (Steam button + L1) to view a single icon in an upgrade screen; everything else, including subtitles, scales nicely.

Again, there’s no reason to drop Hades 2 below the High quality preset, as this remains easygoing enough to max out your respective Steam Deck model’s refresh rate. There appears to be a slight frames-per-second drop when transitioning between encounters, but I didn’t notice this with the FPS counter switched off, and a couple of visual effects that I initially suspected as causes of stutter turned out to just have animations with low-looking framerates. During any and all playable bits, Hades 2 in fact performs beautifully, though I do wonder if those effect animations (destroyed trees, especially) could get smoothed out during early access development.

You can afford to keep your Deck’s refresh rate high, too, as Hades 2 is impressively frugal on battery drain. With screen brightness and speaker volume both at 50%, it can keep on truckin’ for 5h 38m on the Steam Deck OLED, and still made it 4h 24m in on the original, less efficient LCD Deck. That makes it somehow even less charge-hungry than Hades, which emptied the original Deck in 3h 27m.

Because I’m a bit too prone to sending Melinoë dashing into thick hellbeast scrums – and there’s a firmly enforced line between 'keeping momentum' and 'suicidal overconfidence' – I haven’t yet seen all of what Hades 2 has to offer. Even so, I can’t see how its deeper reaches of Hell could pose the Steam Deck much issue. I’ve still played for hours, and the only signs of a work-in-progress I’ve seen are a couple of pieces of placeholder character artwork and a single upgrade screen where some misplaced title text overlapped an upgrade description.

Needs fixing? Sure. But I’ve found nothing game-breaking, game-slowing, or even upsettingly wonky thus far, including that which might harm the Steam Deck experience specifically. It’s pure, frenetic, deity-flirting fun right from the off. The Steam version makes for the easiest option, naturally, though you can install the Epic Games Launcher on a Steam Deck if you’d rather pick up Hades 2 through there.

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