Hades 2 already beats its predecessor as my favorite roguelike ever, but I still had to bully myself into trying its two trickiest weapons

Hades 2 image showing Hecate and Melinoe standing outdoors in front of a large full moon
(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

The best thing about Supergiant's Hades games is how much experimentation comes with the territory. You can go out with a whole plan in mind, only to be scuppered from the very first chamber if the luck of the gods evades you. Roguelikes are great for pushing stubborn people like me out of their comfort zones to that end, constantly testing my build-crafting abilities and leading to myriad surprises on the way to victory – or eventual demise.

That hasn't stopped me from picking favorites in Hades 2 all the same. I've been shrinking away from the two fiddliest weapons out of sheer bewilderment, and after defeating Chronos and Eris multiple times apiece, I'm finally feeling confident enough to rectify that.

So nope it be

Hades 2 Eris boss fight dialogue

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

Hades 2's nocturnal arms are a varied, mystifying collection. The Witch's Staff helped me get the knack of Melinoë's magical abilities easily enough, and I gelled with the spitfire rapidity of the Sister Blades almost instantly. I'm even partial to the Moonstone Ax from time to time, despite my preference for speed over strength.

When I eventually unlocked the Argent Skull and Umbral Flames, though, I was immediately distrustful. The shotgun-like skull and its ascribed combat style did not appeal to me at all. Running around to pick up my three shells feels exhaustingly like collecting Zagreus' cast crystals in the first Hades, with some of them shooting out of bounds and remaining unretrievable until the next chamber. Or maybe it's because I'm not a fan of ranged weapons in general, largely preferring to be up-close-and-personal in every roguelike I've played. That last reason is definitely what I didn't enjoy about the Umbral Flames. I found it all but impossible to properly aim those bouncing fireballs at the right targets, let alone make sense of their pinball movements across an already busy screen.

Everything changed when I finally started collecting Aspects. I'd already seen how powerful the changes could be when applied to other weapons – Artemis amps up the already devastating damage-per-second potential of the Sister Blades, Circe buffs the staff's omega attacks, and Thanatos rewards evasive footwork with heftier damage while using the ax. Surely something could be done to remedy the issues I was facing with the Skull and Flames, too?

I sat myself down and had a word. I would master the argent skull and umbral flames, even if just to prove that I'm not a three-trick weapons cache. To do so, I'd bring the tankiest build known to man and god(s).


Hades 2 victory screen for Argent Skull, showing a predominantly Hephaestus build

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

Roguelikes are great for pushing stubborn people like me out of their comfort zones.

I have one core rule in Hades: when in doubt, just sprint or dash. I use this knowledge to my advantage when constructing my ideal Argent Skull build. 

First, I equip the Aspect of Persophone to turn Mel into an impervious cannonball of destruction during her omega special attacks. Then, I turn to my keepsakes to increase my odds of crafting an ideal boon build

I'd intended to go for a Hera-Hephaestus build, linking enemies together with Hitch to distribute the brute force effects of Blast and Vent among them. Things go swiftly to plan at first, especially after gaining my personal favorite sprint boon of all: Smithy Sprint. I am fairly certain I can solo most of the game with a strong cast boon and Hephaestus' sprint, but I hold myself back from relying on them entirely. Instead, I use my AOE bomb-like omega attacks to inflict Hitch on as many enemies as possible before barrelling into them with Smithy Sprint. I also become very well acquainted with Selene's Total Eclipse blessing, which proves a veritable boss-melter.

Things are going swimmingly until I start picking up a concerning number of Aphrodite boons. I'd been hoping for Hermes, Hestia, maybe even a chance encounter with Artemis, but much like Dionysus' Hangover status curse in the first game, I've never quite grappled with Aphro's Weak or Charm effects. That would soon change, because it turns out that Aphrodite's Rapture Ring is one of the best cast boons in Hades 2. By dragging all nearby enemies into its center, Rapture Ring creates the perfect bullseye for Melinoë' to crash into with Smithy Sprint or her omega special.

Hades 2 Weapon Aspects for Sister Blades

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

I was able to complete a full run with the Argent Skull on my first try, and now, it's beaten Lim and Oros as my favorite Hades 2 weapon. But what of the Umbral Flames? Well, I'm still working that one out. I'd read that Poseidon's Wave Flourish is excellent here, turning the flames' special attack into revolving water bombs that push enemies away, but I'm still not quite gelling with the markedly slower pace of the main attacks. Even with the Aspect of Eos at my side to buff them, paired with a Daedalus Hammer boon that makes specials inflict more damage-over-time, I really struggled to keep myself disciplined. I kept forgetting that the flames work best from a distance, and after burning all three of my Death Defiances during the Cerberus showdown, I conceded defeat to Eris at the foot of Olympus. Still, not bad for a first attempt, right?

Now that I've broken each weapon in somewhat, I plan to keep experimenting with the nocturnal arms as Early Access develops. Who knows? Maybe a future patch or key update will alter the Flames in such a way that I finally grow to love them? The hate-to-love evolution happened to me before in Hades with the Adamant Rail, so until we reach full release, I'm happy to leave that probability to the Fates.

Check out the very best roguelike and roguelite games to play next, from Neon Abyss to Dead Cells.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.