Remembering God Of War
I so vividly remember the the first time I saw gameplay for God of War back in 2005. Greek mythology had always been fascinating to me, and I remember how excited I was to see Zeus and Ares, minotaurs and chimeras, come to life in a new and exciting way. I remember seeing Kratos for the first time and thinking that the ancient Greeks missed an opportunity to include such a ruthless warrior in their mythos. Needless to say, I was enthralled.
However, growing up, my brother always got the video games. I begged him to get it, for anyone to get it, really, but my requests fell on deaf ears. Fast forward a few years– and by a few years, I mean God of War: Ascension had already been announced– as an adult, I bought my first PlayStation 2 and copies of God of War and God of War 2. It was everything I could have wanted it to be, and those two games are responsible for my love and passion of the gaming industry now. Through the years, it is a series that had always meant so much to me for that reason.
Needless to say, when God of War was announced at E3 in 2016, I lost it. I wish I could lie to you and say I didn’t cry out of pure joy and excitement, but there were tears. And if I’m completely honest, I still get a little emotional when I watch the announcement trailer from E3. At that point in time, 2018 seemed so far away, and I had craved another adventure with Kratos for years before that. And I had so many questions! Kratos was a father again? Norse mythology? That beard?
I would talk about God of War whenever anyone would listen, and I’m sure my friends were just as eager for the game to release just so I would stop talking about it. Finally, it came: April 20, 2018. I even took the day off of work so I could spend an entire weekend with my most anticipated video game to date, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It played like a dream. Switching between the Blades of Chaos and the Leviathan Axe forced a new element into the familiar hack-and-slash gameplay style from the original games. It felt like even the play style had matured along with its audience. The graphics were beyond what I could have even imagined: cinematic battles, overwhelmingly large set pieces and enemies, the rich colorfulness of Freya’s home, the wrinkles and scars reflected in Kratos’ skin. It was nothing short of an absolute pleasure to look at. Even more importantly, the story and the character development is what really made this such an outstanding piece of work.
Kratos was different. He battled with himself and the demons of his past. He struggled as he watched Atreus battle with his own anger and developing power. He was more than the ruthless, bloodthirsty warrior hellbent on revenge, despite what the consequences might be. Kratos had a new-found depth that made him relatable. Kratos, Atreus, Freya…These beautifully written characters have set a new bar for well-developed narratives and characters within the gaming industry.
Looking back now, during God of War’s anniversary week, I have realized that God of War was one of those games that changes you. It affects you. As a longtime fan of the series, the series’ reinvention is a celebration of growth and acceptance. It is one of those games that anyone who has ever struggled with their past decisions, their past selves, can find solace. God of War encourages its fans to be better in a familiar, booming voice, and we are compelled to listen long after the game is finished.