I hope the tarot cards in Hades 2 are really tarot cards

In the 24 hours between the early access release of Hades 2 and me ordering a brand new Steam Deck OLED to play it, one of my roommates completely retreated to his room to play it non-stop, including during his of working days. Eventually, I went to his room, checked on him, made sure he wasn't dead, and became fodder for his cat, only to have him rave about my game the moment I walked through the door frame.

Amid the gushing words, I picked out a few things. Baths, spells, principals, moms, fighting…and then my ears perked up. “Tarot Cards”. I am a long-time user of tarot cards, having been gifted my first deck by my mother when I was 14 years old – a “gift” in the sense that I saw a set in the New Age section of a bookstore cards for dummies and begged my mother to give me a tarot card. I've been collecting decks ever since, and while my use of tarot is less spiritual and more a way of understanding what patterns my brain recognizes, I've long been fascinated by The meanings of the cards and how different cultures interpret tarot cards.

“Like, real tarot cards?” I said, interrupting his monologue. He said “yes” and then obviously started to say something else, but I had already raised my palm to his face and announced “Say less”, using my other hand to feverishly type on my phone for my Steam Deck order Was able to order delivery before I left his room.

Unfortunately, does not work with real tarot cards

Hades 2 is an unabashed wizardry game, and as such, most of the changes from Hades to Hades 2 are wizardry in nature. Melinoe is a witch, trained by the witch goddess Hecate, who uses magic to enhance and modify her attacks. She uses spells to unlock improvements to her base, locations, abilities, and more. She grows and harvests her own ingredients for use in spells or simply for trade. Tarot cards fit perfectly into this witchcraft culture.

However, when I actually saw these tarot cards in game, I found myself disappointed. In fact, they are not “real” tarot cards, they are just very obviously inspired by tarot cards. Each Arcana card increases Melinoë's power through passive upgrades or new abilities, giving you a way to fine-tune her build. Each card is named “Eternal” or “Wayward Son,” mimicking the naming conventions of tarot cards while pointing to different characters or events in Hades and Hades 2. Don't get me wrong – I love that Tarot is incorporated in this way, and I don't feel enough about Tarot to complain that it's not an accurate depiction of the tradition.


God Mode Is Still the Perfect Way to Play Hades 2

Supergiant once again makes it easy to appreciate the stories and characters of this universe.

However, I do feel like this is a missed opportunity. Because I have a long-standing love of tarot mythology, I, like every tarot reader, have a different and profound relationship with each card. Different cards often have different meanings, but the interpretation of each card is highly subjective and can be used to refer to many things.

Many of these perks are easily associated with the images and names of the major mysteries of the traditional Tarot deck, and I dare say there will be an extra layer of thematic complexity for those familiar with the meanings of these cards. Just thinking about the art that might come with each card makes me drool.

So why not Tarot?

The simplest explanation for Supergiant not using real tarot cards for its Arcana system is that there are too few major Arcana cards. The main arcana cards are the ones you might recognize even if you're new to the practice – Death, Fool, Tower, etc.

The Minor Arcana is basically like playing cards: four suits, from one to king.

There are only 22 Major Arcana cards, while Hades 2 has 25. They can also delve into the Minor Arcana – each card has its own unique meaning, but the cards are not nearly as easy to identify as the Major Arcana.

Maybe it would make more sense for Supergiant to make their own cards rather than incorporating effects into the interpretation of existing cards, which would be fine. The game doesn't suffer for it, and neither do I. And, imagine the tarot merchandise we can get from it.

Hades 2

“Hades 2” is the sequel to Supergiant Games' popular roguelike dungeon crawler. This time you will play Melinoe, the princess of the underworld and sister of Zagreus, to fight against the power of the Time Titan.

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