A quick history lesson about Supergiant Games’ Hades reveals that Theseus was very nearly the hero of the game, rather than its most notable villain.
Hades has become something of a superhit, with the roguelike action game enjoying at least 1,000,000 sales across PC and Nintendo Switch to date. The game quickly became one of the highest-rated titles of the year after a stealth launch via a Nintendo Direct Mini back in September 2020.
Since then, it’s dominated the gaming conversation thanks to its likable cast, addictive gameplay loop, and impressive writing.
But we very nearly saw one of the game’s most widely reviled characters star in the leading role. Supergiant co-founder Amir Rao has shared some insight into the development process of Hades via a Clubhouse chat (cheers, The Verge) that sheds some light on the early developmental ideas for the game.
Apparently, earlier on in development, the game was pitched as a retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur, and players would take on the hero of Greek mythology in order to guide them out of the labyrinth of Minos.
Apparently, creative director Greg Kasavin changed things up in the game in the end, making Zagreus the main character and eventually fighting the cocky, holier-than-thou Greek hero instead. If Theseus had been kept as the hero, the developers feared, the game would have ended up feeling generic.
“[Kasavin] sort of had this idea that we could probably keep everything in the game, but recast it as Zagreus,” Rao explains.
“These different ideas, all these different characters, they all kind of came together. Within I think a day or two he had convinced everyone that it was a better idea.”
From then on, Kasavin started researching Zagreus – the son of the God of the Dead – and things just started clicking into place. Funnily enough, considering the subject matter, it also allowed for a more ‘slice of life’ family tone to settle into the game, and lightened the tone of the whole thing, too.
Eventually, Theseus would get a rewrite from a bland generic protagonist to become to the grandiose, arrogant boss we see him as in the game today. It’s a hell of a story, for sure.
“The part where he is bratty is something that I feel is kind of deeply rooted in the mythology about him,” Kasavin tells The Verge. And why not? After all, Theseus’ is arrogant, single-minded and determined, making him the perfect complement to our very own Zag.