It’s hard to play a character who’s a dick, but it’s worth it
They are video games nothing without their main character. Commander of the Shepherd Mass Effect trilogy; Enter Aloy Horizon Zero Dawn“We would never have rooted for them unless we liked them.” Unlike movies or TV shows, video games are a place where fans play the protagonist as they help save the world, friends, and themselves. It is not essential that players agree with every move their character makes. (Let’s face it, Lara Croft made some pretty bad decisions on them Tomb Raider It is restarted.) But in general, it is essential to have some kind of emotional connection to the character. It’s true that video game heroes often fit into a narrow set of molds, but in general, the identities of their cookie cutters aren’t at least made up of grids. Or offensive. In other words, no one wants to play ass.
What happens when video game heroes break that mold? You turn on a new game, you fall into a world you don’t know, and you realize that you’re an antihero, that you don’t like it and that you never wanted to be.
For many, that was the experience of playing God of war. It is highly recommended by people God of war for me, but I never looked at the original titles. So I got into the 2018 game, the eighth in the series, without knowing anything about Kratos ’history or who he was before. It was anticipated as a new beginning for the franchise — a continuation of the 2010s— God of War III, but with a new setting and revitalized story, making it the perfect entry point for a great franchise. I went blind.
It turns out, Kratos is a kind of star. Full thrust of God of war that is, Atreus and his son, Atro’s mother, are mourning the death of Kratos’ wife and are on a journey to scatter the ashes. It’s a simple and thoughtful story, but it’s complicated, as Kratos hides his god’s status from his son and lives incognito in the land of Norse mythology. (See? A kind of tool.)
It is clear from the beginning that Kratos ’wife was a caretaker, and that Kratos himself was a sad, attached, and emotionally distant father because he is completely cruel to Atreus when the game begins. Honestly it was hard to live as a parent. Here is a child who mourns his mother for comfort in going to his father, and Kratos repeatedly accuses him. It took me weeks to get through the first few hours of the game, because despite the wonderful story, the wonderful scenery, and the thoughtful behavior, I didn’t feel like investing in the person I was playing with. It’s awesome when the studios change the type of character you play. Creativity is good, it’s good to do something different. That should be fully encouraged; playing a character who plays the same type of game over and over again can be tiring. But when so unlike what you expect, what are you doing even though you’re not sure you want to continue playing this character?
Actually, I would normally accept that this game wasn’t for me, put on a controller and move on with my life. But something stuck with me God of war. First of all, I really enjoyed playing as a parent. That’s not something that happens often in video games, and seeing the father-son relationship, which I didn’t fully accept, was gratifying. Secondly, it might be a hard pill to swallow Kratos, but Christopher Judge also gives him a voice that gives the character the much needed humanity. Eventually, a friend who encouraged me to take the game first assured me that the dynamic between Kratos and Atreus would change.
It happens, my friend was right. Within hours of the start of the match, I had already seen a great metamorphosis in Kratos, when it came to respecting his son’s abilities. (Atreus da really it is useful in the fight.) And as the story unfolds, Kratos’s meditation becomes on how to grow his son into a good person: what information to give, how to best protect him, and how to adapt to become a good person. It’s pretty thoughtful and beautiful, and it’s something I would have missed if I hadn’t stuck God of war.