He’s the god who does all the war, Its Kratos! Remember this one-dimensional character? The dude who tore through deity’s like they were toilet roll after a spicy Biryani? Well, brothers and sisters, your favourite no good god-killing pal is back, and he’s here to deal with the most taxing predicament of his blood-soaked life, being a father.
Whilst this does sound like a sitcom pitch, I assure you this is more Oscar-nominated blockbuster than Two and a Half Men (though, actually… ignore that, bad example.) 2018’s God of War is brutally cinematic and never turns the camera away, even when the going gets emotionally tough. Instead, Kratos gets going, forced into direct confrontation with a son he cannot understand.
Consumed by rage and lack of self, Kratos’s son is forced to grow in the similarly abrasive and self-destructive manner as Kratos
Stricken with grief from their matriarch’s death, the pair choose to scale the highest peak in all the nine Norse realms to scatter her ashes. Of course, many crazy japes put an axe in the gears and lead them on a wild adventure.
Kratos sees Atreus like a mirror. Consumed by rage and a lack of self, his son is forced to grow in the similarly abrasive and self-destructive manner as Krato, his true self kept hidden for his own “safety”. The human condition dictates that we want our children to succeed and go beyond our means, but if hate is all you know, how do you make sure they don’t stray from the path? Such is the dilemma Kratos faces.
Small, quiet moments of emotion pepper this slow burn narrative, every line back and forth cutting deep, reminding us that we can’t choose our parents and that those who do make the choice to bring something into this world do it with earnest love in their heart, despite not knowing how to fill out the shoes.
God of War is the new bar for action games, if not the entire medium
Being a parent is active learning. My parents, your parents, they were winging it. They did their best to get us to where we are and sacrificed so much for us out of pure belief and love. And sometimes, that’s not enough. We all have spats and fights with our life-givers, and the reciprocal cycle of love gets broken for hours, maybe months, even years. But in the end, we all feel the powerful, fragile emotion that connects us to our forebears. God of War grabs this gorgeous, infinitely relatable notion and squeezes tight, providing a powerful emotional release for anyone in its miasmic grip.
The most beautiful thing about it is that this core tenet that defines the game is only the moral. The rest of the masterpiece orbits around it, including sharp and witty side characters full of life like Brok, Sindri and Mimir, a detailed, jaw-dropping dedication to Norse art and lore, and a combat system that chucks an axe at the entire action RPG genre and says “what next, chumps?”. God of War is the new bar for action games, if not the entire medium. How developers respond to this piece of art will shape the industry for the next decade.