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A conversation with Hades II audio director Darren Korb

Supergiant Games. A company name which invokes tight and frenetic gameplay, memorable characters, and gorgeous, gorgeous artwork. They are an audiovisual powerhouse of creation, producing excellence through every aspect of their work. Known for being an independent studio with a style wholly of its own, Supergiant have created some of the best selling, most inventive and influential indie games of the last decade.

On Monday, they released their first sequel in Hades II, a follow up to the Greek God-fest which sold over a million copies in its first two years. The game releases in ‘Early Access’, meaning it will be tweaked and improved over time, but the development team have promised at least as much content as the first game upon release. 

A while ago I spoke to Darren Korb, audio director and composer at Supergiant Games, about his past, process, and passion.

Hades II is the fifth game in the studio’s history, coming after Bastion, Transistor, Pyre and the first Hades. Though he could not comment on the sequel at the time, Korb alluded to an evolution within the company, the scope and ambition of each game following on from the last as their skills and confidence grew in kind.

Korb has been a key figure in the development of all of Supergiant’s games. From voice acting in every release, to playing the drums, bass and many other instruments in each soundtrack, to directing the voice actors to…you get the picture. On an audio level, all of Supergiant’s games are influenced by Korb and for many, including myself, it is the most addicting element of their growing catalogue. 

I’ve never purchased a game as fast as Hades II. So yes, there’s definitely some bias here. In the original, your protagonist Zagreus is the son of the God of the dead and King of the Underworld, the eponymous Hades. Tired of his dull life and seeking his unknown mother, Zagreus must fight through Tartarus, Elysium, and beyond to try to escape the Underworld. Zagreus is voiced by Darren Korb himself, by the way, along with a few other interesting faces. 

Hades II follows Melinoȅ, the younger sister of Zagreus. Like the first, it dubs itself a “God-Like Rogue-like ”, and features a pantheon of Greek Gods and heroes. Except this time, she wants to kill time, and the Titan that personifies it. 8 hours in, it is as addicting as the first, feeling both immediately familiar and greatly expanded. 

The much-awaited sequel released in early access on the 6th of May 2024, with a promise to keep improving the game, at least until the end of the year. Just for fun, here’s a clip of me playing it. I hope Zagreus taught me well…

(Note: this clip includes spoilers for the first boss of Hades II) 

Hades II is available in Early Access on Steam and the Epic Games Store