God of War has had a long history of being one of gaming’s bloodiest, goriest games that were not an outright horror game. Starting as a PlayStation 2 franchise back in 2005, each sequel in the franchise has evolved to tell more of a mythological story as Kratos exacted his revenge on the Gods.
From slicing enemies with the Blades of Chaos to fantastic brutal kills against Zeus’ children, Kratos has given us the ability to rage war on things for nearly 10-plus years. When the series was brought over to the PlayStation 4, a much older, wiser Kratos was given to us as he and Atreus traversed a new land to honor his late wife’s final request.
Santa Monica Studio spared no quality in combat when they decided to introduce the Leviathan Axe as Kratos’ new main weapon. Spoiler alert: it’s awesome. The axe is a de facto Mjolnir with ice properties and the ability to return to Kratos’ hand once thrown.
Once again, with a new game that harnesses the power of modern consoles, the ability to flesh out worlds, storytelling, and gameplay only gives developers to create games that rival the best Hollywood has to offer. And we as gamers, reap the benefits of those type of games.
However, one thing that truly stands out in the latest God of War title isn’t the gorgeous graphics or the fantastic gameplay, but, rather the dialogue between the many characters of this world.
We’ve played as Kratos for a long time now, and anyone who’s anyone will tell you the murderous version of Kratos is probably the most recognizable version from the earlier games.
What we get in the 2018 God of War is character development for Kratos in ways we have not seen before in him. This is his second attempt at family life after tragically losing his first family in the original game. Here, we are witnessing Kratos opening up to loving another woman and raising Atreus as only he knows how: through experience.
Early on we see exchanges that show us that Kratos’ main parenting technique is forcing his son to take charge and fend for himself. God of War‘s opening scene where Kratos helps Atreus track a deer and knife the downed animal … is something most children don’t experience, if ever. But, here, Kratos urges on his young son, and teaches him that the world — and destiny — must be faced head on if he is to grow.
(Slightly spoilery section coming. You’ve been warned.)
Then after we learn the secret behind Atreus’ parentage, the passage of dialogue opens tremendously. The conversations between the two have been some of my favorite parts of the game.
Kratos has probably never had an honest line of communication with many people, and the fact that he created this new relationship after a grand reveal only speaks volumes to his growth.
Even as Atreus becomes increasingly cocky with his newly formed God powers, Kratos still insists that Atreus not become overconfident in their adventure, and just as important, not to look down on others because of your privilege.
The journey to spread their mother’s ashes takes them across several realms during the process and in that journey, we see Atreus’ growth as well. From disappointment in his father, to at times, possible hatred, Atreus shares his emotions through his words much more openly than his father.
Even as a child, Atreus takes the world as his father gives it to him. The world can be cold as it can be filled with characters willing to help them on their journey. It’s a polarizing world when your father tells you one thing and the world presents another.
But through his eyes and his words, we see Atreus’ growing from sheltered to cocky to understanding. From innocence to having blood on your hands, Atreus suffers a fate very similar to Kratos in terms of emotions but is much more vocal about it.
It’s through this dialogue between the two where the game and storylines really shine. Sure, we could’ve had a similar hack-and-slash game with the two and it probably would have been entertaining. But having the focus on literally watching two characters grow from the many actions they’ve taken is truly groundbreaking.
Each action is weighed upon their soul. Each passing conversation is defended by both characters with varying opinions. You witness a father and son on a grand adventure, but the grander adventure is each world shared between them.
For every “Boy” and “Father” the two share opens up a deeper, grander connection between the two. Hopefully, we’re given even more time with Kratos and Atreus in a God of War sequel, but until then …