It’s been some time since I’ve given praise to fictional parents. With the newly released God of War: Ragnarök out on consoles, it’s only appropriate to show the growth of the former God of War, the Ghost of Sparta himself, Kratos. NO SPOILERS, SINCE I DIDN’T FINISH RAGNAROK YET. BUT TINY SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THE OLDER GAMES.
Before he was at war with the Norse Gods, Kratos was seeking vengeance for what the Greek Pantheon did to him. Manipulated nearly from birth, Kratos was a Spartan warrior who lost every member of his family to the Gods’ machinations. His brother, Deimos, was taken from him as a child. His mother became one of many victims of Zeus’s womanizing ways and was tricked into killing his wife and daughter by Ares. That was the final straw, which lead Kratos to wage war with, eventually, all the Greek Gods. One by one, Kratos brutally destroyed the Gods, until Zeus himself was left. In an epic struggle, Kratos exacted his revenge. Killing Zeus, Greece was brought to ruin, and for Kratos, only death remained. Killing himself, (to spite Athena and keep the power of hope away from the Gods) the story of Kratos ended in Mt. Olympus. Or so we thought.
Flash forward over a decade later, and we see Kratos with a new family. With Faye, his wife, passing, it’s up to Kratos and his son, Atreus, to fulfill her last wish. Scatter her ashes over the highest peak in all the realms. Easier said than done, with the strained relationship between father and son. Atreus wants to prove that he’s ready for the journey ahead of them, but Kratos has his doubts. Furthermore, Kratos hides the true heritage of his Godhood from Atreus. While on their journey, Kratos learns how to love again and be the best father he can, while Atreus learns the way of the warrior and how not to make the same mistakes his father made.
There are some critiques about the God of War series that I want to briefly debunk. For one, there isn’t a single “bad” entry in the franchise. That includes God of War: Ascension, the “black sheep” of the series. For another, Kratos wasn’t just a one-note character, only consumed with rage. Throughout the games, he has shown a softer side, it was just pushed to the back for the sake of pushing the gameplay. In the prequel, Chains of Olympus, Kratos has a chance to be reunited with his daughter, Calliope. But, when Persephone (the goddess of death) schemes her way into destroying Elysium (the Greek version of heaven), Kratos’ daughter will be lost as well. With one of the most painful choices of his life, he pushes her away, to save her. One of the many regretful choices Kratos has had to make, over his lifetime.
With Atreus, Kratos struggles with his anger, wanting to explode, at times. But, with his past experiences, he now has the wisdom to learn and grow. When Atreus snaps at him for not showing any kind of remorse over losing his mother, it takes all Kratos has not to succumb to his anger and snap back. For the most part of God of War (2018), he exudes a wave of quiet anger, only yelling when necessary. (Which is even more fitting.) He, at first chides Atreus for mistaking not voicing his grief for not having any. As soon as he says this, Kratos regrets it, stating that he didn’t teach Atreus how he deals with loss. Later, though, the two form a bond that won’t be broken by anything. Whether it’s fighting ogres and demi-gods, or saving each other from certain death, their bond becomes stronger. What’s more, is that they learn from each other. Kratos begins to let his guard down emotionally, and Atreus learns that just because you’re a god, doesn’t mean you’re above reproach. One lesson that still says with me is when Atreus makes some mistakes, early in the journey, on a hunting expedition. He quickly apologizes, but Kratos sternly replies, “Do not be sorry. Be better”. It’s not just the line that resonates, but how he says it. After checking his own anger in his son’s mistakes, Kratos realizes that he must practice what he preaches. As gamers, we see that happen, as father and son become better versions of themselves. Atreus learns how to fight, but more importantly why they fight while still holding on to his humanity. Kratos is still that God-killer, but with more reason to strive for humanity.
I’m sorry if this ran a bit long, but I’m a big God of War fan. Played all of them, and dare I say, there hasn’t been a bad entry in the series, yet. With the new games going for more personalized storytelling, it’s only going to get better. That’s all, for now, fam. Be sure to share this blog, follow me on Instagram at @blerdpov2.0, and till next time fellow blerds!