“...physical violence and tender psychodrama.”
May 6, 2018 4:13 PM   Subscribe

God of War review – muscleman on a mission [The Guardian] “In an industry now in its mid-to-late 30s, and still with a predominantly male workforce, the glut of recent blockbuster video games featuring father-child relationships surely reflects the preoccupations of the men who make them. God of War is the latest specimen: a game in which a monosyllabic muscleman is on a journey to scatter his late wife’s ashes on the tallest mountain in Norse myth, while accompanied by his young son. [...] This reboot swaps the soap opera of Olympia for that of Asgard and the move northwards ramps up, if such a thing were possible, the machismo of the enterprise (all those crumb-laden beards). But, beneath the surface, this is a game reckoning – like so many of us, in times like these – with masculinity, and what it means to be an interested father.” [YouTube][Game Trailer]

• God of War review: an incredible reimagining of a PlayStation icon [The Verge]
“He was rage embodied. There was a story tying together his violent ventures throughout Greek mythology, of course — a quest for revenge, naturally — but I can’t say I remember much of it. Every beat felt the same: the gods had done something to anger Kratos, and he set out to kill them. Rinse and repeat, then rinse again in copious amounts of blood. As such, I approached the new game — a soft reboot that shifts the series to Norse mythology — with more than a little trepidation. This new story stars a quieter, gentler Kratos. He lives a simple life in the woods, where he hunts for food and scrounges for supplies. He has a son. He’s… a person. Someone with actual thoughts and feelings. The game is billed as something of a redemption story for the burly Spartan warrior: following a lifetime of death and rage, here he is trying to make the world, at least in some ways, a better place. But after a decade of seeing Kratos as little more than a cloud of spinning blades, I was unconvinced this approach could work. With a body count that is impossible to calculate, does Kratos even deserve redemption?”
• ‘God of War’ Is Better Than It’s Ever Been [Motherboard]
“Kratos used to be nothing but a vengeful meathead. Now he's a character who's actually conflicted about his place in the world and evolves over time. Like you said, old God of War played a lot like the Japanese third-person action games where players chain attacks together to stylishly take down enemies. That is still technically what the new God of War is, but by moving the camera from a far, fixed position, to a close over-the-shoulder angle, it now feels more like Resident Evil 4: I'm not just trying to hit the most enemies at the same time, I'm prioritizing threats from all directions, some of which I can't see because I don't have a full view of the spaces I'm fighting in. This makes the fights feel much more dangerous and surprising.”
• God of War Is a Messy, Beguiling Take on Fantasy Violence and Toxic Masculinity [Wired]
“God of War, then, is an endlessly dissonant and self-contradictory game, cut across the same fault lines as its protagonist. It abhors Kratos' quiet cruelties and the distance he places between himself and his son, but, damn, it thinks he's cool. It wants violence to be serious, and weighty, while placing endless nameless monsters in the player's path. It wants you, in a sense, to be both father and son, viewing Kratos as a terrible man who's only good at one thing and also as Atreus sees him, as a potential hero waiting to unfold before you. But God of War is still beguiling in those contradictions, and I enjoyed it despite of, or even because of, them.”
• God of War: 'lovingly crafted and engaging all the way through' [Kotaku]
“Hey, want to feel as old as Kratos? It’s been over 13 years since the first God of War was released for the PlayStation 2. Between its brutal, beautiful combat, its unique and dramatic story, and its groundbreaking camera work, that debut was like nothing I’d ever played before. It was an entity unto itself. 2018's God of War seems more content to borrow from other successful recent games: it’s a little bit Witcher, a little bit Dark Souls, a little bit The Last Of Us, and a little bit old-school God of War. It feels like more of a trend follower than a trendsetter, a pastiche of ideas. But they are good ideas, done well enough to bring a once-stale series back up from the depths of Helheim.”
• God of War review: astonishing technological craft in the service of simple pleasures [Eurogamer]
“All of the extraordinary flights of fancy of the gods and their realms builds upon this sense of reality, of messy wilderness. This means when the game takes you somewhere extraordinary it does not purely feel like a set-dressing change, but it also does not feel entirely natural. The gods' worlds are impositions, garish indulgences, and they look like it - because the gods are children, and they are forced, perhaps through the weight of expectations, to remain children. An interesting choice, really, to come in close. These games have always been graphical showcases, and they show, this time, that the things we like to look at have changed. God of War is as spectacular as all the other God of Wars, and there are still those dizzying shifts in scale that define the series' imagination, but the designers have also developed an eye for the smaller things and found a way to make it all work together.”
• God of War: Dream daddy [Polygon]
“A decade ago, director Cory Barlog helped establish the God of War franchise as an iconic gory and debaucherous video game romp. While its antihero, Kratos, had pathos (he killed his wife and daughter in a fit of rage, his skin forever grayed by their ashes), it served little dramatic purpose, rather existing as a grimdark excuse for his god-slaying and orgy-having ways. Barlog — now older, a father — has returned to the series with a small army of talented designers, many of whom served on the earlier games, to make good on that rich but neglected potential at the francises’ core. There’s still plenty of gore, but now the guts have meatiness. Some die-hard fans may fear this isn’t really God of War. I suppose they’re right. It’s even better.”
• 'God of War' Triumphs Because It Confronts Its Own Bloody Legacy [Waypoint]
“This question sits at the heart of God of War: Why does someone change, and how do we define progress? What does it mean to change when you don’t believe you’re capable of it? It’s a flawed premise—not everyone deserves redemption—but it’s one rooted in optimism because it’s the fourth game in the series—sixth if you count the PSP games, seventh if you count the mobile game, eighth if you count Ascension—and the story has to move forward. (Though it sometimes feels like God of War itself doesn't want to move forward; the last five hours of an otherwise well paced game are an often frustrating, if occasionally thrilling, bait-and-switch, as you're tasked with finding Yet Another Magic Object.) One of the reasons I’m attracted to horror movies is that, like video games, they’re prone to sequels, formulas, and a habit of chasing the same highs over and over again. Whenever I find a horror franchise with a dozen sequels, I’m ecstatic. For one, it means they probably go to the moon eventually, but more to the point, I’m fascinated by the way creators try to invent new ways to press the narrative, twisting a story that should have concluded into new, unneeded knots.”
• God of War Repeats Too Many of the Series’ Misogynistic Mistakes [Bleeding Cool]
“And, let’s be fair, the man is gaming’s biggest Mary Sue (or Marty Stu, rather). He can do no wrong. Despite being a mass-murdering meathead, Kratos somehow still gets women falling all over him, fights gods despite being continuously de-powered for the sake of dramatic plots, and has weaseled himself into two different polytheistic pantheons. He might as well be a fanfiction original character. Add in his almost laughably basic “tragic backstory” and, well. He’s a disappointing protagonist whose biggest motivating forces are the desire for revenge and regret over his dead wives. Which brings us to Atreus’s mother. Aside from end-game spoilers, we don’t know a whole lot about Atreus’s mother for most of the game. She starts off dead, and she stays that way. Much like Kratos’s first wife and his daughter, she exists to give Kratos a purpose and a motivation. The women in God of War always get dealt a disturbingly rough hand. More often than not, they die at Kratos’s hands. And this time around, things are no different.”
posted by Fizz (40 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 


As someone who could not be more desperately in need of another AAA skill-based action RPG... I could not possibly care less about another story of an angry white dude, whether or not his kid is along on the way, whether or not he is self-aware, whether or not it is metacontextually savvy. There is literally nothing the trope of Angry White Man Beats Things Up for Reasons that will compel me to be even slightly interested in watching or playing, much less purchasing, games like this.

If, on the other hand, they had taken the exact same engine and much the same content, and made the protagonist someone like, say, Demeter (as a fighter) or Hecate (as a mage) or Artemis (as a rogue), who is just completely fed up with Zeus's bullshit, and along the way you get to beat the living fuck out of literally every asshole Greek God in the pantheon... you would not be able to pry the controller out of my hands.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:41 PM on May 6 [23 favorites]


BOY, TRANSLATE THESE RUNES

I was pretty much permanently repulsed by God of War when I heard about the role Aphrodite played, so I hadn't been paying any attention to the series. But this story drew me in, and I plan to watch the Jacksepticeye playthrough. (I don't have a PS4, and I'm crap at first-person anyway.) There's always something affecting about the story of a smaller, weaker child, a kid who's definitely not a chip off the old block, trying to win parental affection. It is irritating, though, that the boy's mother is immediately fridged when she's the one who has a millennium of mythology behind her. Welp, you're gonna get that, I guess.

(I haven't watched long enough to find out if Kratos had ever even seen his son before. Something tells me he was not the kind of dad who changed diapers. Kid was probably lucky he wasn't exposed as a weakling.)
posted by Countess Elena at 5:42 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]




For what it's worth, most Angry White Man Beats Things Up for Reasons games don't revolve around an Angry White Man coming to grips with how shitty a father he is. I'm right there with you when it comes to more diverse characters, but dismissing a game like this, especially in light of how bad the previous God of War games were, seems premature.

Is it the perfect expression of progressive ideas? No. Is it a step in the right direction for a series (and medium) plagued by toxic masculinity? Absolutely.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:27 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


Whatever you want to say about the gender politics of this franchise, both the Norse and Greco-Roman pantheons are way overplayed at this point
posted by Apocryphon at 6:44 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


> Apocryphon:
"Whatever you want to say about the gender politics of this franchise, both the Norse and Greco-Roman pantheons are way overplayed at this point"

Yeah, but they're EASY....
posted by Samizdata at 6:45 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


->Countess Elena
Kratos has spent time with his son, but he also leaves a lot. It's established early on and made clear that Kratos has never been a great father and that Atreus is aware of that. Though, yes, I don't think that Kratos has ever changed a diaper, that would a great leap for him.

God of War 3 was the first game I ever played that left me feeling disgusted in ways I couldn't really explain. I was younger in 2010 and I didn't quite have the vocabulary or worldview that I have now, but I really distinctly remember that it was the first game I played, that I felt, really truly hated women. There are parts of it that are really repulsive and the while I think the whole game is gross in its senseless nihilism and attempts to redeem an irredeemable character, it's misogyny struck through more than anything.

2018 God of War is better in a lot of respects. The game's writing is infinitely better, it has a sense of humor, the voice acting (especially of Kratos and Atreus) is spectacular. But, there is a single female character in the game. One. One who is a mother whose only real role in it is to be a mother. She wants to protect her son and helps you with yours. The game talks about her mythology and how interesting and smart she is, but the parts that you actually see of her show none of that. Atreus's mother is also spoken of and we are told that she was a wise and compassionate warrior who tried to make things better but we are only told these things. None of the work is put into showing them.

I was really happy with how God of War 2018 turned out, despite having its own set of issues. It's going to be it's own series, probably another trilogy, and hopefully each one will take big strides forward in terms of dealing with toxic masculinity and the baggage of it's own history.
posted by Neronomius at 6:50 PM on May 6


Whatever you want to say about the gender politics of this franchise, both the Norse and Greco-Roman pantheons are way overplayed at this point

Indeed, I'd love if video-games ventured into some other cultures, and yet I know that comes with a whole other host of problems: appropriation, exploitation, racism/stereotyping, etc.
posted by Fizz at 6:52 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was going to say I'd like to see the Egyptian gods in this context, but I really wouldn't. Because I don't want these guys to say that Ammit the Devourer, Meresger the Lady of Silence, or Menhit, She Who Massacres, could be beaten up by Slab Bulkhead here.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:02 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I was going to say I'd like to see the Egyptian gods in this context, but I really wouldn't.

Not trying to completely derail, so maybe hit me up in my DM but for anyone who has played, how is the new Assasin's Creed: Origins? I've watch a little game-play but it seems very by the numbers, like every fother AC game. I'm impressed with their 'Education/Tourist Mode' that they developed, which let's you just wander and observer the art/history.

But I imagine, even that is curated (like all history) through a particular lens, so I wonder at how they're handling the subject of Egyptian culture. One hopes with some sense of dignity and respect.
posted by Fizz at 7:33 PM on May 6


Here's a link that talks about the one thing linking all these reviews together: all the dudes:

The Hyperbole of Homogeny [Video Games Choo Choo]
"Once a consensus is born from a collection of many like-minded opinions, it’s hard for any sort of counter argument to claw its way back up to relevance, especially when the subject matter is something like that of GoW. GoW has trumpeted its masculinity throughout the past decade and a half, whether it was the misogyny and hyperviolence of the original trilogy, or the new “Dads will hurt you and they have their own deep reasons for doing so” brand of masculinity that has started to seep into the plots of many games recently. When the series gets continuous rave reviews upon every release, the entire industry continues to perpetuate this ideology, that this is the correct way to think, knowingly or not."
posted by Merus at 7:39 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Damn, now I feel like shit for loving the fuck out of the game.

In all seriousness, I finished it this weekend and was so satisfied by the combination of combat mechanics, puzzles, world-building and story in the way that I was with Horizon Zero Dawn and the last Witcher installment.
posted by bibliowench at 8:06 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Damn, now I feel like shit for loving the fuck out of the game.

I think it's ok to feel this way. The politics of gaming is a complicated thing. This article is also worth reading, considering where our conversation has taken us.

I Really Like 'God of War,' But Reserve The Right to Change My Mind [Waypoint]
“In reviewing God of War, I knew I was hopelessly biased to a game about trying to be a good father. As a new parent who grew up with a dad who loved them but rarely found ways to express it—and let me be clear, he was a good person who in no way reflected the toxic masculinity of Kratos—I’m predisposed to the game’s emotional beats. It’s the same way after my father passed, I can barely keep it together during a sentimental commercial for Kleenex. Certain topics are going to grab me, they’ll blind me to others, and the joy of reading other reactions is using them to help me better understand a work holistically.

Everyone has blind spots, but it takes conviction and patience to find your own.

As reviews went live, for example, people started wondering if the game reckoned with its deeply sexualized and angry history with women. My review touched on that point, but largely focused on what the game did want to grapple with: violence. It made me think back to BioShock Infinite: Had I made the same mistake, blindly accepting a game on the grounds of what it wanted to talk about, not realizing what it didn’t say was the more important point?

Maybe? That’s something I’ll need to take stock of, do more research, and grow as a critic. ”
posted by Fizz at 8:17 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Atreus Is Pretty Much Bobby Hill.

The original Atreus of Greek lore was a lot more like Eric Cartman, fwiw. Especially when it came to chilli recipes.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Kratos in the early games had a goatee and was Xtreem to tha Max. Kratos of 2018 has a lumberjack beard and is as self-aware of his absurdity as Roast Beef.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:23 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


I haven't played any of the God of War games so can't speak to the character, his motivations, his behaviour, or anything like that. I guess I just find it interesting that we've come a long way from the John Carmack "story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important" days and I find a bit of hope in that there's discussion around fucking Kratos out of of all video game characters.
posted by Foaf at 2:37 AM on May 7


Not trying to completely derail, so maybe hit me up in my DM but for anyone who has played, how is the new Assasin's Creed: Origins? I've watch a little game-play but it seems very by the numbers, like every fother AC game. I'm impressed with their 'Education/Tourist Mode' that they developed, which let's you just wander and observer the art/history.

Fizz - "Origins" was great - I mean, sure it is still an AC game, and there's a lot of stabbin' folks. But the plot and mechanics were solid.
posted by Paladin1138 at 5:50 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Looking at pantheonic games outside of the Greco/Roman sphere -- Okami is a oustanding Japanese-created game about gods in the Japanese pantheon. Never Alone is an enjoyable Inuit-created game that is centred around Inuit folklore and tradition. I feel like there are probably quite a few more games like that -- games that put the player in a real-world tradition that were developed/designed largely by members of the ethnic group that holds that tradition -- but I haven't played many of them. That would be an interesting list to research.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:20 AM on May 7


¡Ay caramba! Metafilter, you are nothing if not reliable. I'm only a few hours in. But it's a silly, fun game. I have not played the previous games, but anyone cringing from "toxic masculinity" from GoW is simply looking for a reason to be upset. And though the mother is dead at the beginning, she is portrayed as having been extremely intelligent and skilled as a hunter and all matter of practical things.

It's a cartoon. We've had all kinds of AAA games lately featuring strong women characters, and that's great! This (so far) makes laugh out loud jokes about how gruff Kratos is. Some genuinely funny lines, delivered well. It's not going to be the greatest social statement ever made nor is it going to explore deep topics of contemporary feminism (or any other philosophical topics for that matter) but it's a fun game full of scary monsters, brutal violence and action and great graphics.

(I gather that he was tricked into killing his family(?) in the previous games and their ashes are his "tattoos"...) Some heavy bean plating going on here.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:42 AM on May 7


And yeah, I'm sick of Norse mythology and ice and snow. My guess is that it's an easy-sell. I'd like to see some truly twisted take on Maya/western indigenous people's myths in a game, and more Asian themes. Has there ever been a Southeast Asia pantheon in a video game?

But I guarantee you Metafilter would be upset over adopting/exploiting and irresponsibly representing a marginalized people's culture.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:54 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I feel that perhaps I should clarify just a little bit -- I don't care how self-aware Kratos is.

The problem is that it's his story. I would be very happy if the next six generations of games, perhaps into 2050 or so, had no male protagonists, no male stories, no male-centric ideology whatsoever. Just women, or gender indeterminate people, kicking ass, saving the world, solving puzzles, screwing up, making mistakes, making love, all the same things that a man might do, but from someone else's perspective.

Hell, I'd be happy if all media was like that. It's only the barest beginning of being fair, if fair is a ever metric. Ever since patriarchy has been a thing, most media has centred around men's views, men's needs, men's desires, men's struggles, men's challenges, from a man's perspective, filtered through a man's pencil, and presented for the attention of men.

I mean, I just... don't... care. You can say wow, Kratos knows he's a dick. Or he has been a dick. So? Does that make him less of a dick? Does that suddenly remove all of the privilege he's accrued because he's a man? Because of all of his previous shitty behaviour? I dunno, and I don't care. So you get a story about an angry white dude who is like "oh, wow, sometimes I can hurt people" and maybe there's a tender moment. But I mean, come on, how many thousands of stories have been told about that exact thing, about a man becoming ever so slightly woke?

They're still stories about men. And I don't care. That's my point. I'm saying: this is what guides my consumption of media: I don't give a shit about men's stories. I hope that's a thing I can share here, in a discussion about a video game that features a man. I believe this is valid critical commentary about this exact game: if it had been filtered through the lens of a woman protagonist, I would play the hell out of this putative "Goddess of War." But because it's not, I will not.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:40 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Do you have to make Kratos stand in a river to shed heat mid-combat? If not I'm not interested.
posted by GuyZero at 7:47 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


"I don't give a shit about men's stories"

Fair enough. And entirely valid! But it's a great game and the story isn't really that relevant to the action, the graphics and the play. It's not a novel, or a TV show or a film. FWIW I'm a cis-het white male, and I do not identify even a little with the character. Kratos is absurd in every way. No real life human can identify with Kratos, he's a literal cartoon. It's entertaining the way Bugs Bunny is entertaining: it's a caricature of humanity used as an outlet for creativity and criticism. It's an insane, loopy story, I don't connect with iKratos on some deep level. Just as no one connects with Bugs Bunny on a literal level, or Groucho Marx, or Ed Grimley.

I agree that there's an overwhelming bias towards white cis-male stuff in media. That doesn't mean i's all bad.

Oh well.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:49 AM on May 7


anyone cringing from "toxic masculinity" from GoW is simply looking for a reason to be upset

Yeah, no. Here's another possibility: Gaming has a problem. GoW is one the symptoms. So is your inability to see the instances of glaring misogyny as misogyny and your condescending dismissal of people who do see it. People can have different perspectives than you - valid ones - without "looking for a reason to be upset." This is especially true when your privilege insulates you from the problem.

I won't play GoW because the way previous games portrayed women is offensive to me and this game is not different enough to make me comfortable supporting the series. I don't need a man telling me that I'm just looking to be upset. WTF, dude.

nor is it going to explore deep topics of contemporary feminism (or any other philosophical topics for that matter)

It's telling that you think feminism is a philosophical issue and that the problem with feminists criticizing games is that they're demanding too much philosophical depth.

We've had all kinds of AAA games lately featuring strong women characters

What an absurd non-sequitur. It's like you think the gaming industry can purchase misogyny offsets for its misogynist games by putting out a game that's not misogynist. That's ... not how bigotry works?

Also, using "strong women characters" unironically has been disallowed by feminism for at least six years.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:51 AM on May 7 [12 favorites]


I'd like to see some truly twisted take on Maya/western indigenous people's myths in a game

Guacamelee, anyone?
posted by Paladin1138 at 7:55 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


[Comment removed; if you just don't care, just go not-care elsewhere, nobody needs to triple down pointedly on how much they're disinclined to engage with the topic of the thread.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:31 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


But I guarantee you Metafilter would be upset over adopting/exploiting and irresponsibly representing a marginalized people's culture.

Should we not be?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:32 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


(P.S. YOU ARE METAFILTER! Gah, I hate that shit.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:34 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


how is the new Assasin's Creed: Origins

imo it is Extremely Good in ways that the series has not been in previous games. yes, as usual, the main characters are motivated by the death of a family member, but it's their child, and they way they are affected is like... it's very real and very human. it's still AC, there's still comic book-esque cackling villains, lots of gravity-defying stabbing, and weird, poorly explained supernatural/space alien shit going on, but the encompassing plot of how the loss of a young child affects both parents individually, as well as their marriage over the years, is very striking, and very real.

further, i don't think bayek fits the Emo Manchild Grows Up genre of protagonist that's been the focus of most of the previous games. he's kind. he carries bird treats in his pockets. he helps farmers burn the stubble off their fields. he helps injured travelers bury their dead. there's a side quest where you take a nap with some cats. i love it a lot.

also abubakar salim's voice is wonderful and i could happily listen to him reading a phone book.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:42 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


[Sorry, that first note was sort of vague and insufficient. I'll rephrase: jeff-o-matic, quit shitting up this thread with your dismissiveness and your reflexive GRAR METAFILTER! metacommentary, and avoid doing that in other threads in the future too, because it's been an ongoing problem and it's adding nothing to the conversations you inject yourself into. If you're so tired of MetaFilter that you can't help beefing about it in passing conversation, go elsewhere.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on May 7 [9 favorites]


I'm loving this game and its exploration of masculinity. I think God of War is what happens when a game company engages with feminist criticism of games but still makes a game about a father and son. Given the bizarre hypermasculinity of the God of War Series that seems like a smart choice to me. I'm 100% on board with more diverse games and love seeing new games with strong female characters, LGBT characters, etc. God of War does not do that. But maybe it's a way to reach some boys and men who won't get the feminism of Horizon Zero Dawn or Assassin's Creed: Syndicate. Maybe some gamers will see themselves in Kratos or Atreus and learn something.

The question I have is whether the feminist critique of masculinity inside the God of War story stays this good. It started off very strong for me; Kratos is absolutely a shitty father to his son in their time of grief. Early on he schools his son in toxic masculinity and later Kratos confesses he can't share his grief with Atreus. It's complicated emotional stuff for a video game.

But now I'm about halfway through the game and I'm not sure if this level of writing is continuing, we're buried more in the workmanlike story of all the obstacles to overcome as you push the buttons. There's an opportunity for a counterpoint in the plot with Odin's own fucked up relationships with his children, also Thor and his sons Magni and Modi. But the writing doesn't seem to be exploring that very much. Looking forward to finishing though and seeing if the game delivers on the broken Kratos/Atreus relationship that they set up so well at the start.

(Also it's a hilarious trope that Kratos is functionally illiterate and keeps having to call his son over to read things. Atreus' skills are generally more effete and intellectual and it's nice to see how Kratos respects that without quite understanding how he does what he does.)
posted by Nelson at 8:54 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I also think its clear to me that Kratos isn't held up as the ideal - you definitely sympathize more with Atreus than Kratos early on...

....of course I may be, in my adulthood, projecting my own childhood with a gruff single father a little bit...
posted by Paladin1138 at 9:16 AM on May 7


....of course I may be, in my adulthood, projecting my own childhood with a gruff single father a little bit...

No, I felt that way as well. I don't own a PS4 but I was playing the first 10 hours at a friend's house and I was super annoyed with Kratos for those 10 hours, I can imagine it gets worse. My buddy was trying to justify Kratos' treatment of his son as a type of "lesson" or "discipline" but it comes across as just him being a shitty dad. Though maybe that improves in the later parts of the game.

I was definitely sympathizing with Atreus, his loss, his frustration with this come-lately father.
posted by Fizz at 10:10 AM on May 7


I'm assuming the Kratos-is-a-shitty-dad stuff is on purpose, that it's written that way. Boy I sure hope so. It plays that way to me, the way you empathize with Atreus, the disappointment and hurt in his small voice. (There is some nuance; Kratos also is a good protector of his son and a patient teacher. But he, um, doesn't do emotion.) If people play this game and come away thinking Kratos is a model of how to be a father then I take back all I said about the clever feminist writing.
posted by Nelson at 10:27 AM on May 7


Loved GoW. Bought a PS3 specifically for GoW 3.

The sequel I want is for Calliope and Lysandra to team up as howling Kratos-hunting shades. Because that backstory is so gross.
posted by Sauce Trough at 12:44 PM on May 7


"If, on the other hand, they had taken the exact same engine and much the same content, and made the protagonist someone like, say, Demeter (as a fighter) or Hecate (as a mage) or Artemis (as a rogue), who is just completely fed up with Zeus's bullshit, and along the way you get to beat the living fuck out of literally every asshole Greek God in the pantheon... you would not be able to pry the controller out of my hands."

I'm an actual polytheist and this pretty much describes my real life religion.
posted by xarnop at 5:25 PM on May 7


Pretty late to the party here but...I bought a PS4 Pro specifically for this game (and got the special limited edition GoW console to go with it to boot) because it had been getting such spectacular press (and because there is literally nothing to play on the Xbox One S that I haven't played already, until State of Decay 2 comes out in a week or so) and...I haven't touched it because I have been playing the everliving heck out of Horizon Zero Dawn, which is the first game I have genuinely wanted to 100% since Oblivion (and I'm 78% of the way there).

Aloy is just such a wonderful and refreshing character for me. Sure I've played the new Tomb Raiders and the Mass Effects as FemShep, the only true Shep, but for the most part, AAA games with female characters are just picking that gender at the beginning, and then they do the same thing as the male character would (which tends to be male-ey stuff, like shooting and drinking). And really, I've got gruff-old-tough-guy burnout I think. Like Marcus Fenix in Gears of War and just about everything before or since then. The Uncharted games might have come first, but for my money aren't as good as the Tomb Raiders despite being mechanically and visually identical, simply because of my dude-burnout.

I mean I'm still going to play God of War, obviously (didn't touch the original games, this is my first PlayStation), but I know exactly what I'm going to be in for. I think I'll play Hellblade first. Plus, yeah, snow games. It's time to find a new weather, game developers.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:11 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Dad Jokes with Kratos.
posted by pharm at 7:34 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The question I have is whether the feminist critique of masculinity inside the God of War story stays this good.

I finished the main story and I'd give it a solid B+ at the end, which grading on the curve of vidya means an A. To me the most interesting father/son discussions and musings on masculinity were largely at the start of the game. After 5-10 hours of gameplay the two had settled comfortably into a relationship. That relationship does keep changing, particularly as Atreus learns more about himself and his father. But there was never some amazing moment for me, particularly not on the theme of toxic masculinity. Kratos never breaks down crying and hugs it out with his son or anything.

The story does get told nicely though. The writing has actual character development, a rare thing in a video game. It also incorporates the two female non-player characters' stories better that I expected at first. It's still a game about Atreus and Kratos, not the Witch nor Atreus' mother. But both women are shown to have complex motivations, agency, and stories of their own by the end. (There's also a bunch of side stories about Valkyries which I haven't played yet.)

I also think they really got the gameplay right, the power fantasy of fighting games where you level up and become unstoppable. Stock and trade for this kind of game but they implemented it really well. The button pushing part is good fun.
posted by Nelson at 6:40 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


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