Warning: Some spoilers ahead for God of War
God of War’s story is what made the game so great. Seeing Kratos and Atreus’ relationship develop and evolve kept me hooked throughout the thirty-hour campaign.Especially captivating was the growth of Atreus. At the beginning of the story, Atreus was just a kid. Sure, he was a more skilled archer than your average 10-year-old kid, but ultimately he was a child. He was immature. He was immature. He lacked understanding for the events transpiring around him. Atreus was adorable, but he was no warrior.
Kratos grew as well, albeit not to the same extent as Atreus. He gained the courage to face his truths. He learned to trust his son. Over the course of the adventure, Kratos became a good father. This adventure would not have been the same if it were not for the development of its two main characters.
Unfortunately, the plot itself was lackluster. It seemed as if the designers first wrote all the dialogue between Kratos and Atreus, and then actually created the overarching story. Nearly every mission had some sort of stupid reason for its existence. Can’t access a world? Well, it’s probably because someone didn’t set up the transporter correctly. Spend ten hours reaching the “highest mountain?” Just kidding, the highest tower was in another realm! The story binding everything together seemed itself to be haphazard.
Even the reason for having Odin, Thor, and Baldur chasing the duo didn’t seem very developed. Sure, at the end of the game we get a 10-second explanation for why Kratos’ home came under attack, but this part of the story was not at all fleshed out and could have had far more depth. For a game grounded in a world of Norse mythology, the developers could have done a better job incorporating that into the centrality of the game as something beyond just a setting. For most of the game, it felt like I was running around without purpose. The only thing I materially accomplished by completing the game was scattering Faye’s ashes and killing a few gods. I loved seeing the interactions of the game’s characters – that’s what made God of War so good – but I was thoroughly disappointed that I did not feel a greater sense of accomplishment by the end of the game.
I get it. God of War’s plot did not have a major purpose; it was just supposed to keep Kratos and Atreus on their journey. To an extent, I agree that it fulfilled the basic requirements for a functioning plot. Everything else about the game – the characters, the writing, the beautiful graphics – emanated top-tier quality. But, when a studio spends years perfecting every element of a game to craft an incredible experience, it is disappointing when a certain otherwise-essential component of the game comes up short.
In the next God of War game, I would love to see Kratos and Atreus grow further, but I hope that the developers will give me more of a reason to care for my adventure. From the teaser at the end of the game, it seems like the next God of War might pick up with an epic narrative. I sure hope so, because I would love to care about the God of War’s story as much as I do for the characters.