Hello everyone and welcome to another post for Historia Gaming all about ‘God of War’ 2018. Today I will be talking about whether I think that the mixture of Greek and Norse mythology works in the latest game. Please note this is all my opinion so if you don’t agree with me that is totally fine! So, without further ado let’s get started!
If you have played God of War before you will know that the main character is called Kratos and that previous games have revolved around his interactions with the Titans and the Olympian gods. After all, he himself is known as the ‘Ghost of Sparta’ and his name and character all revolve around the ancient Greek world. However 8 years after the last God of War was released in 2010, we are suddenly removed from the Ancient Greek world and find ourselves in the realm of Norse mythology.
The 2018 game is set in ancient Norway in a realm called Midgard which is inhabited by humans and creatures alike. The 2018 game lets you as Kratos, along with his son Atreus, explore multiple locations in Norse mythology such as Alfheim, Helheim and Jotunheim. The plot of the game also introduces you to numerous figures in Norse mythology such as Mimir, the smartest man alive who in mythology is beheaded by Thor, his head carried around by Thor as he asks for advice. You are also introduced to Freya, Modi and Magni the sons of Thor, the god Baldur and the World Serpent – the giant Jormungandr. At the end of the game, Kratos’s son Atreus is revealed to be a Norse god himself his real name being Loki.
But does the mix of ancient Greek and Norse mythology work?
In my opinion, it doesn’t. From the very beginning of the game I felt that the developers were forcing the two mythologies together in a way that just felt inorganic. With relatively little explanation Kratos is just suddenly chilling in Midgard, completely removed from his ancient Greek origins. After all Kratos has killed Ares by this point and is the new ‘God of War’ taking Ares’ place as a member of the Olympian gods. So taking Kratos from ancient Greece and depositing him in Midgard, really doesn’t make much sense to me. The question of why he is there and how did he get there is never really answered either and throughout the game I couldn’t help but feel like Midgard was a bit of a random choice.
Similarly his second wife, deceased in game, is Faye, a figure in Norse mythology who is also a giant. How the marriage came to be however and what killed her is left relatively unexplained in the game and to me this seemed like a half-hearted attempt to link the Greek and Norse mythologies together in any substantial way. The link between the two mythologies is no where to be found outside of this marriage and no where else in the game do we encounter a character who is from another mythological world. So, without Faye’s presence in the game, Kratos’ own presence in Midgard is rendered questionable. If Faye was alive in the game, at least Kratos’s presence in Midgard would be explicable and the link between the two mythologies wouldn’t feel like such a stretch. However with Faye dead, this link is severed and Kratos is left floating between two worlds.
That Kratos is left between two worlds is made even more apparent in the game when he returns to his house in Midgard to retrieve his Blades of Chaos and whilst he does this, he has visions of Athena and Zeus. To me, this makes no sense, the developers have thrown in weapons he used in the Greek world alongside visions of the Greek gods for what? If Kratos is immersed in the Norse world, why are the developers still trying to show his connection to the Greek world? To me this is just evidence of how the developers have left Kratos in limbo, he now belongs to no mythology and to no world.
Kratos’s interactions with the Norse characters in God of War also seem out of place. Now this all could be due to the fact I missed something whilst playing it, but to me it just felt forced. Right from the outset the antagonistic nature of the Norse characters towards Kratos felt misplaced which again for me goes back to the feeling that Kratos just doesn’t belong in Midgard. Baldur, Modi and Magni, Thor and Odin all seem to hate Kratos and, after reading the plot of the game and character pages multiple times, I still don’t really understand why! This all goes back to the feeling I had right from the beginning of the game which is that Kratos’s presence in Midgard is just a bit forced as is the link between the mythologies.
Although I love God of War as a game and a franchise I really did feel at a loose end playing the new 2018 version. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the game, I really did! The graphics are stunning, the worlds the developers have created are immersive and atmospheric, the characters themselves are really interesting and who doesn’t enjoy the part where Jormungandr appears from under the lake?! It is a great game, I just wish the developers had started afresh with a new character from Norse mythology rather than place Kratos in a new world and try and fit the world around his story which for me, sadly falls flat.
Again however this is my own opinion and you could all disagree with me completely! Let me know what you think in the comments and happy history everyone!
ps. the picture is from a Fjord in Norway sadly I couldn’t get to Midgard!