WARNING! THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE GOD OF WAR (2018) STORY.
It was a wild ride. The quest to scatter the ashes on the highest peak in all the realms was complete, and with it came a number of revelations. Not just for the current game, but setting the stage for what comes next, and this is honestly the first time I’ve ever been excited about the God of War series.
For those unaware, once the ashes are scattered and you’re left to do whatever side quests or trophies you have left, travelling back to your home and sleeping gives you almost a Marvel-style post-credits scene. A few years pass and Kratos leaves his house to thunder and lightning all around, and who is standing in front of him but Thor and his hammer. Cut to more credits.
So while Odin may be the big bad god, a lot of the stories that your decapitated head sidekick Mimir tells you revolve around Thor and how he’s the absolute worst. Then there’s the relationship with Freya and her hatred for you after you murder her son Baldur. The entire last hour or so of that game is story beat after story beat that aims and succeeds at fleshing out this world and making it so that the sequel can go in any number of directions.
Prior to God of War a lot of my Norse mythology came from the Marvel movies, but a quick look on Wikipedia reveals a number of possible exciting things the games can take as inspiration. For instance, Baldur and Thor aren’t the only sons of Odin. There’s another interesting character called Vali. The most intriguing part of his character is that he was birthed with the sole purpose of avenging Baldur. And with what happens in the game, you just know Freya herself will want nothing more than to punish Kratos and Atreus. Or should I just start calling him Loki?
Indeed, the game’s final twist of Atreus’s true name was certainly a surprise. The trickster god in various forms of media has been portrayed as both a hero, villain and sometimes anti-hero. The mural you encounter painted on the walls during the final climax doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture. Seemingly with knowledge of the future, Kratos’s entire journey is mapped out for him, leading, it seems, to his death as he lays in the arms of Atreus. A main theme of the game is the betrayal by a son, from the ghostly thief you encounter, stabbed in the back by his own child to the number of stories that Mimir tells of a similar nature during the many boat trips. It almost feels like the game is being too obvious that Atreus will do a heel turn (as you would say in the wrestling business) and betray Kratos.
I need my sidekick in future games, please don’t turn him evil or take him away, please.
Strangely, it’s not the story implications that I’m wondering about the most, it’s how it will affect the gameplay. Firing off arrows and aiding you in your quest, Atreus became crucial to overcoming the harder fights. Taking him away, I feel, would make the game suffer unless they replace him with someone else with a similarly effective move set. The one moment in the game that really dragged for me was during the infuriating section where Atreus, finally discovering he’s a god, decides he’s invincible, ignores your commands and just does whatever he wants. I need my sidekick in future games, please don’t turn him evil or take him away, please, Sony Santa Monica.
Delving deeper into Norse mythology, you also come across the strange stories around the world serpent. The booming-voiced snake played a prominent role in the game; the one odd thing about the creature though is that it is the son of Loki. Yes, you read that right. Now God of War is known to monkey around with myths and legends to fit its own story, but it wouldn’t completely be out of the realm of possibility for the game to take a more faithful interpretation. The world serpent is a famous Ouroborus (snake eating its own tail). There are subtle hints through the game that it could refer to time. Some sort of time loop perhaps where what has happened before will happen again (a little Battlestar Galactica reference for you). The world serpent during one dialogue exchange implies that Loki/Atreus looks familiar. It would certainly be a strange thing for the young boy you play as to be the father of this enormous, world-encircling snake, but, you know, video games.
The possibilities are almost endless. Norse mythology is such a vast and interesting subject that I found myself falling down a Wikipedia hole for days after the game was completed. Wherever it goes now I have faith that Sony Santa Monica will give us a game worth waiting for. And that’s something I’ve never said about a God of War game before.