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Hades II Is Addressing The First Game’s Lack Of Body Diversity

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Hades is famously known for its tight action gameplay, unmatched ability to weave narrative into a run-based roguelike, and for Supergiant Games making the pantheon of Greek gods fine as hell. The team said that beauty was a virtue in its character design, but the fact that the original game lacked body diversity disappointed many. Thankfully, it looks like the sequel, Hades II, is taking a step forward on this front with Hephaestus, the god of the forge.

Supergiant showed off Hephaestus during its lengthy technical test stream on April 17. He’s a blacksmith on Olympus, one of many characters who gives the player boons to upgrade their abilities during a run. His appearance in the stream is brief, but his portrait has already caught the attention of fans, as he’s a heavier-set bear (a man who is bigger and hairier than the average Hades god) in a sea of ripped gods. He also uses a wheelchair and has a prosthetic leg, seemingly a reference to his lameness in Greek mythology as a result of a fall from Mount Olympus. While we don’t see much of him in the technical test, fans are already excited about a god who doesn’t have the same body type as all the others.

When Hades left early access in 2020, then-Kotaku staff writer Ash Parrish talked with Supergiant about the team’s making everyone in its roguelike hotter than the fires of Hades. Studio co-founder Greg Kasavin explained that, as gods, it felt that they would naturally be easy on the eyes as they embodied the beauty of certain ideas.

“For some of our characters, their attractiveness in fact is part of who they are,” Kasavin said. “Aphrodite and Dionysus spring to mind. For chthonic gods such as Nyx or Thanatos, I think their beauty is more effortlessly incidental. They are the personifications of these profound concepts such as Night and Death — we felt, how could they not be beautiful?”

However, that also raised questions about what is and isn’t considered beautiful under that framework. If all the Greek gods are shredded, swole, and otherwise fit and able-bodied, does that make fatness and differently abled bodies somehow antithetical to that idea of beauty? That was the certainly the feeling some folks had at the time. As Wired pointed out in 2021, the only fat characters that appear in the first Hades game are the Wretched Lout enemies, which, according to the game’s codex entries, had been “reduced to merely their most base of negative impulses.” The implication that fat characters are the natural result of someone losing all self-control is not great, but it seems like Supergiant has taken the criticism to heart.

Whether Hephaestus is a one-off deviation from how Hades and its sequel depict god-like beauty or foreshadowing of greater body diversity to come remains to be seen. But at the very least, those looking for a bear instead of a chiseled god are eating with Hades II, as well. Supergiant is currently taking sign-ups for Hades II’s technical test on Steam.

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