With a God Of War game, you can usually rely on some franchise staples: Ultra-violence to the max, anger management issues that makes the Hulk look like Ghandi in comparison and a protagonist with about as much depth as a Hollywood explosion. Sure, Kratos may have had plenty of reasons to engage in plenty of deicide over several games, but he wasn’t much more than raging maniac when you take a closer look at the various entries in the series.
That’s something that the latest God Of War game wants to change, by humanising Kratos through his interactions with his son. It’s a game that has a tighter focus on actually telling a story to go along with all the carnage, that was inspired by Star Wars. A cancelled Star Wars TV series to be exact. Way back in the dark ages of the mid-2000s, Star Wars big cheese George Lucas had some ambitious plans for a live-action Star Wars TV series.
It would have been set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, a TV series that would have explored the the new Galactic Empire from the eyes of different characters and included cameos from the likes of Darth Vader, the Emperor and Boba Fett. That never happened, and I’ll eat one of my special effects silicone masks if Star Wars ever gets greenlit for TV.
What did happen however, was that God Of War director Cory Balrog read through several scripts for the proposed TV series, scripts which had a lasting effect on him. “Probably the really small beginnings of this idea, the germination of this — when I was working at [Lucasfilm], I was allowed to go up to the ranch and read the scripts for the [cancelled live-action Star Wars] TV show,” creative director Cory Balrog said to VentureBeat.
It was the most mind-blowing thing I’d ever experienced. I cared about the Emperor. They made the Emperor a sympathetic figure who was wronged by this fucking heartless woman. She’s this hardcore gangster, and she just totally destroyed him as a person. I almost cried while reading this. This is the Emperor, the lightning out of the fingers Emperor. That’s something magical.
And that idea planted the seed in Balrog’s head to make Kratos, a character who really, really isn’t a hero by any stretch of imagination, a more sympathetic character. While staying true to who Kratos really was as a rage-fuelled steroid god-slayer. “That first idea, though, was pitching Kratos getting another chance at being a dad,” Balrog explained.
That was the essence of the pitch. People were kind of looking at me sideways. ‘What are you talking about?’ But you start thinking about it a little bit. How would he deal with that? Just saying, ‘Oh, Kratos wants redemption’ is selfish. It’s old Kratos. It’s self-centered. It has no purpose. But this idea — something beyond him is motivating him to change.
He’s known for a long time that he needs to change. But the change is coming from not wanting to repeat the mistakes of his past.
Everyone deserves a second chance. Politicians and real estate agents not included.