Video video games are nothing with out their essential characters. Commander Shepherd from the Mass Effect trilogy; Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn—we would by no means root for them in the event that they weren’t, properly, no less than considerably likable. Unlike motion pictures or TV, video video games are a place the place followers get to play the protagonist—assist save the world, their pals, and themselves. It’s not important that gamers agree with each transfer their character makes. (Let’s face it, Lara Croft made some fairly poor choices in these Tomb Raider reboots.) But it is usually key that they’ve some sort of emotional reference to the character. It’s true that online game heroes continuously match into a slim set of molds, however usually their cookie-cutter personalities are no less than not grating. Or offensive. In different phrases, nobody needs to play the asshole.
But what occurs when online game heroes break this mould? You hearth up a brand-new recreation, get dropped into a world you don’t know, and notice you’re the antihero, somebody you don’t like and would by no means need to be.
For many, that was the expertise of enjoying God of War. Quite a few folks advisable God of War to me, however I by no means checked out the unique titles. So I got here into the 2018 recreation, the eighth within the sequence, with out understanding something about Kratos’ historical past or who he was earlier than. It was envisioned as a new starting for the franchise—a continuation of 2010’s God of War III, however with a new setting and a revitalized story—making it the proper entry level for a massive franchise. I went in blind.
Turns out, Kratos is sort of a dick. The whole thrust of God of War is that he and his son, Atreus, are mourning the dying of Kratos’ spouse, Atreus’s mom, and happening a journey to scatter her ashes. It’s a easy, considerate story, however one difficult by the truth that Kratos is hiding his god standing from his son and residing incognito within the land of Norse mythology. (See? Kind of a instrument.)
It’s clear from the beginning that Kratos’ spouse was the nurturer, and Kratos himself was the sullen, withholding, and emotionally distant father, as a result of when the sport begins, he’s downright merciless to Atreus. It was actually troublesome to expertise as a mother or father. Here’s a child mourning his mom, and turning to his father for consolation, and Kratos simply berates him many times. It took me weeks to make it by the primary few hours of the sport, as a result of, regardless of the incredible story, beautiful surroundings, and considerate gameplay, I felt no funding within the individual I used to be enjoying. It’s incredible when studios change up the kind of character you play. Creativity is sweet, doing one thing completely different is sweet. This ought to completely be inspired—enjoying a by-the-numbers character again and again in the identical sort of recreation can get tiresome. But when it’s so completely different from what you count on, to the purpose you’re not even certain you need to preserve enjoying this character, what do you do?
Honestly, normally I’d simply settle for that this recreation was not for me, put the controller down, and transfer on with my life. But one thing made me persist with God of War. First, I actually favored enjoying as a mother or father. That’s not one thing that occurs usually in video video games, and seeing a father-son relationship, even one I didn’t solely approve of, was personally gratifying. Second, Kratos may begin out as a robust tablet to swallow, however he’s additionally voiced by Christopher Judge, who provides the character some much-needed humanity. Finally, a pal who’d inspired me to choose up the sport within the first place assured me that the dynamic between Kratos and Atreus would change.
Turns out, my pal was proper. A couple of hours into the sport, I may already see a huge metamorphosis in Kratos as he got here to respect his son’s talents. (Atreus is actually useful in fight.) And because the story unfolds, it turns into Kratos’ meditation on how to increase his son to be a good individual—what data to impart, how greatest to defend him, and the way to form him into a good individual. It’s fairly considerate and exquisite, and it’s one thing I’d have missed if I hadn’t caught with God of War.