God of War is no doubt a pillar in the PlayStation catalog of amazing first party titles the company has made over its almost 25 years on the market. With Kratos being one of the most recognizable mascots for the brand with Crash Bandicoot, Nathan Drake, and more. The first God of War released back on the PlayStation 2 on March 22nd, 2005 and introduced us to one of the angriest and most rage-filled characters we have ever seen. God of War as a franchise was built on classic hack and slash design with some of the most epic boss fights that we had seen up till that point. Which in itself was an accomplishment with some of the most memorable boss battles we received during the PlayStation 2’s lifetime. Now in 2018, with a whole new perspective and the addition of his son Atreus we see a whole different side of Kratos since his debut 13 years ago.
My first experience with God of War was going over to a friends house a few months after the game had released in 2005. I didn’t own a PS2 but I frequently would spend many of my weekends skipping out of the house to stay over at my friends. Whose parents bless their souls were both hardcore into video games and always had the latest games and hardware. We spent a lot of summer days playing games like Radiata Stories, Star Wars Battlefront II, Manhunt and more throughout formative years. While I was only 12 years old during the summer of 2005, I remember having a lot of family and school problems, which left me feeling angry and cut out from my home and classmates. My friend’s place and the games we played were a refuge for me, and the God of War series was one of the first games that featured a character that I really clicked with. Kratos was the perfect vessel for the rage that I felt and truly kept me sane through some of the hardest moments of my life at that point. I felt deeply connected through Kratos’s journey for revenge and must have completed the trilogy over a dozen times in my lifetime. The God of War franchise was a huge part of the reason that I originally went with the PS3 as my preferred console of choice during that generation. Kratos’s fight against the gods of Olympus which many consider being amazing boss fights and some of the best we have seen in the video game medium. These battles represented a lot more to me, they represented that with pure grit and determination you could overcome anything.
Now fast forward to 2018, I am 25 years old now happily engaged to my girlfriend of 9 years and have two beautiful daughters. I have a much different mindset than when I first played the God of War franchise all the way back in 2005. When God of War was first revealed at E3 2016 I was both thrilled and concerned at the time. While I had loved the series all the way up till this point, I was not sure if even the wizards at Sony Santa Monica led by Cory Barlog could make Kratos have the depth required for the direction they were going with the series. I myself did not want to see another return of just angry Kratos, as I had grown past the point in my life of teenage angst and hatred. However what was delivered in God of War (2018) was an absolute testament to the writing and creativity of the team behind this game. We have not seen such character development in the main franchise character with the possible exception of BJ Blazkowicz in the rebooted Wolfenstein series by Machine Games. Kratos had a complex relationship with his son Atreus, while he often got angry with the boy, there was always an underlying softness to that anger. Kratos, a once rage fueled one-dimensional character we now see as a mentor, as he tries to teach Atreus the keys to survival. As a father of two children, while some of the struggles are not the same (I have never had to have my children help me fight a god before) the message and lessons taught can be heavily relatable to any parent. Whether its Kratos’s aggravation with Atreus not heeding his orders or Atreus’s childlike curiosity that constantly puts them in sticky situations. A lot of these interactions many parents will be able to connect the dots to their own children.
While obviously, it is pure coincidence that the God of War franchise has grown with me in this way, it has been quite a journey. From the angry beginnings to grow into a father figure I look forward to what the next step will mean for Kratos and Atreus. As well as what the next step in my own journey could be as I continue to grow and learn with my own children. God of War has never been bigger. I cannot put into words how happy it makes me see more and more people fall in love with this franchise. With a huge Game of The Year win at the Game Awards against some of the heaviest competition in Red Dead Redemption 2, as well as finding huge commercial success, it feels like the sky is the limit for Cory Barlog and Sony Santa Monica and I personally cannot wait to see what the next step is.