Hades originally starred Theseus instead of Zagreus
Hades, Supergiant Games’ wildly successful god-like rogue-like dungeon crawler, almost went in a different direction. Co-founder Amir Rao revealed in a talk on the social app Clubhouse that early concepts didn’t feature Zagreus. Instead, it would have revolved around Theseus.
Theseus is in the game, but not in the starring role. Creative director Greg Kasavin ultimately came up with the idea to keep what Supergiant had already created, “but recast it as Zagreus.” Rao added, “I think a day or two he had convinced everyone that it was a better idea.”
The original plan for Hades was to have Theseus exploring the labyrinth of Crete. The Verge reports that the game “would have capitalized on the twisting nature of the labyrinth to pull off its limitless dungeons.”
Kasavin told the site:
“The idea was going to be like each time you play, it’s kind of like a different retelling of the Theseus myth. So kind of cerebrally, he was interesting. But when we were trying to bring him to life as a protagonist, he has this risk of being kind of very generic. But as soon as we start adding specific detail to him, he just doesn’t really feel like Theseus anymore.”
“It turns out that there are not a lot of myths about Hades, apparently, because the Greeks were just afraid of him. So they didn’t talk about him … It’s like, wait a minute. Hades is one of these super iconic like household name level, Greek gods. And yet there’s so few stories about him and he has a son?”
“We just found a better sort of angle on the protagonist, on the overall theme and on the storytelling technique as well in that one swoop. Things actually did come together pretty quickly from there.”
Given the success of Hades, there’s no question that the character switch was the right call. The change also allowed Supergiant to do more with Theseus rather than having him be a plain protagonist.