“God of War,” the 8thentry that also serves as a reboot to the long-standing PlayStation franchise, was released on April 20th. It garnered incredible praise from media outlets, receiving perfect scores from major sources like ‘IGN’ and “Giant Bomb” and holds a 95 on “Metacritic”.
Among the aspects being praised, its narrative has been a major topic of discussion. The reboot changes “God of War” from the ground up, and one of the biggest changes is with its narrative and lead character, Kratos. This is not just an enhancement for the series, but a sign of the video game industry changing its focus.
“God of War” centers around main character Kratos, who’s the demi god son of Zeus. Rooted in Greek mythology, the series tells a grand tale throughout the famous realms of its source material. Throughout the earlier entries in the franchise, Kratos is a blood-thirsty killing machine who seeks out and kills the Greek gods that brought about the pain and suffering in his life. Plainly put, Kratos hates the gods. This is about all the depth he shows as a character throughout the 7 games he is featured in over the span of 8 years. The final chapter, ‘God of War 3’, hit shelves in 2008. We saw spin offs since, but Kratos’ story had reached an end
The video game industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Games like “Bioshock”, “The Last of Us”, and “Spec Ops: The Lin” have aided in the industry shifting its alignment to a more narrative based one. Games can rarely get away with being good in just the gameplay itself anymore. Gamers now crave something deeper in their single player titles. They want a narrative. A compelling story that drives them to complete a game.
The original entries in the “God of War” series held a surface level narrative that was just enough to keep the player button-mashing through the hack and slash style of combat that was provided. The games were fun and all, but they lacked depth. Kratos was nothing more than an instrument for destruction. An outlet for a gamers violence.
In order to survive, ‘God of War’ had to start from the ground up. Kratos couldn’t be just a boring, one-sided character anymore. He had to show an emotion other than just the anger he was so known for. So, when ‘Santa Monica Studios’ revealed the new entry at E3 in June of 2016, gamers knew this would be a new dawn for the infamous Ghost of Sparta.
The newest entry takes place in a new land, the one of Norse mythology. Remaining rooted in mythology, the reboot gives us a much older Kratos. One that had a wife and a child again. One who is finally being affected by the transgressions of his past. Kratos is no longer just a killing machine. He is tasked with raising his son and pointing him down a path that makes it, so he doesn’t make the same mistakes his father did. He is now a nuanced character with depth.
It was clear that in order for “God of War” to continue making a name for itself, it had to mature. This maturity shows us how much the industry has shifted over the years. Enhancements in technology have allowed video games to be larger in scale than ever before. An industry that started out with Pong has grown into a massive medium that features some of the best creative talents in the world. The interactivity found in gaming is unprecedented, allowing for the player to be directly involved in everything occurring.
Gamers seeking story have found it everywhere they have looked as the years have gone by. Games like “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice”, “Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus”, and “Horizon Zero Dawn” all came out last year, and all of which have an emphasis on narrative. Later this year, gamers can expect “Detroit: Becoming Human”, “Red Dead Redemption 2”, and “Metro Exodus” to deliver games that center around the story they are telling.
“God of War” is nothing short of a masterpiece on its own, but it also shows how a franchise can change to stay relevant in the video game industry. It’s unlikely that this will be the last entry in the franchise but while waiting, gamers have plenty of incredible narratives to experience thanks to an industry that has rotated its focus to strong story content.