GoW – Story Complete x2

Saturday was the first day of rest I’ve had in 4 months.  Helped a lot that my Friday was my team’s holiday party.  I ended up finishing the God of War main story on Saturday, with a bit of help from my eldest daughter.  Spoilers I guess?

I really enjoy stories with multiple plotlines.  Things happening just below the waves that you can just sense but never really get a full handle on.  The novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman does a tremendous job of this.  I’ve read it a dozen times now.  Each time I seem to find a different detail I missed on the first pass.  Helps that I have a large passion for religious pantheons.

The GoW series had 2 interesting parts for me.  The action combat and set pieces were the gold standard for quite a while.  It took what Prince of Persia started, and then went full Rated-R.  The mechanics were really amazing, but it was the setting that resonated most with me.  Since a small child, I’ve been fascinated with Greek mythology.  Kratos was an amazing vehicle to explore the stereotypes of those gods, the limits of their powers, the visualization of stories thousands of years old.  A fight against Chronos, or inside of Gaia, taking out the sisters of fate…hell even the very first battle in the game against the hydra.  Replace any of those characters with “generic templates” and the game loses the luster.  (a large issue for Darksiders, and to some degree Dante’s Inferno).

When GoW was announced in a nordic setting, I was curious as to how the story would unfold.  GoW3 didn’t leave a whole lot of room… Kratos was ultra penitent and killed himself in atonement (but survived since he’s a god I guess).  To find a calmer Kratos… that would be something.

Reruns are Fun

The first time through I did every side quest I could while on the main quest.  I wanted to absorb it all.  There is a surreal amount of detail in this game, though a large chunk is behind text.  The downside to that approach is that the pacing of the story loses focus.  I’d be all about chasing down a black rune, but then forget why Baldur wasn’t able to find me.  The 2nd time through I told myself I’d only do the core, then do the optional following.  Helpful that I didn’t really need all that extra gear this time!

With a more focused approach, I could appreciate what was going on.  The actions from the last quest were still fresh in my mind.  I could better understand Atreus’ dark path, or Freya’s desperation.  The undercurrents of Odin’s obsession with Jotunheim were more obviously the driving context for everything going on.  The final “twist” wasn’t the nice surprise of the first pass through, but the clear culmination of fate.  It was like I was playing as Fey.  In summary, a much better experience story-wise that the first time through.

Obviously there’s not going to be any DLC for this game.  It had more than enough as a base.  There are some clearer notes that could be in hit in a sequel (all but assured), but it does run the risk of repeating the same beats as the first 3 main-line GoW games.  Odin is as powerhungry and mad as Zeus.  Thor appears to be Kratos’ twin in terms of damage per second.  Tyr’s attempts to find some sense of balance for all, like Athena.  All pantheons run the same large character sets, so the risk is there no matter what.  And Kratos as a character has clearly moved on from wanting to kill gods.

What’s Next

Game-wise I will complete the remainder of the side quests.  There are some nice bits and pieces throughout – like the dwarven king who sacrificed his people to fight monsters.  I could also do with some more Valkyrie fights, since they have very little to do with your offensive power and more with your ability to dodge death incarnate.

Story-wise, there are only bits of speculation.  The last panel in Jotunheim shows Atreus holding someone and a snake-like thing between them.  The runs were translated  but the message could still do with interpretation.  Doesn’t help that the person lying down doesn’t look like the version of Kratos in the other murals.  No one knows who summoned the serpent while Kratos/Atreus were with Freya.  And 3 years have gone by since the trip to Jotunheim and the seeming start of Ragnarok.  How did all the giants in Jotunheim die if the portal was closed?  How did Zeus end up in Helheim?  It’s nice to have both such a clean ending to one game, and enough threads to get another story from it.  It will be hard to match the story told here… let alone surpass it.  Wish the devs all the luck on that.

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