I think it is for the best if I started off saying that I am no game reviewer. While I do consider myself something of gamer, with opinions on games that I played and on the industry itself, I don’t feel confident in my skills to review a game. I am more confident in my ability to critique a movie than I am a video game. As such, the following is not a review of the latest entry into the ‘GOD OF WAR’ franchise or an overview of the series as a whole.
The following article is a rather personal statement on how this (rather brilliant) game saved my love for a genre that I had grown bitter towards.
To give context first; I am an aspiring writer, with a novel in the works and a television series in mind. The ideas for both projects – as well as a select few others – had been in my mind for quite some time. But I never got around to developing any of my ideas; all in favor of slaving away on a collaborative effort that had left me unmotivated.
About four years ago, I met a fellow content creator who had been rather obsessed with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Given their obsession with all things Middle-Earth and the genre it fell under, they had come to me with a proposition: to create our very own Middle-Earth, a fantasy series to call our own, filled to the brim with high adventures of wizards, elves, and dark lords of sorts. Characters of all sorts came to us, we had a story we both wished to tell, and after several attempts, a fully realized map was laid out.
The project never came to pass.
I won’t bore anyone with the details as to what went wrong, but to say this person was a toxic work partner and unprofessional would be quite the understatement. A natural part of any collaborative effort is the creative differences that can (and in fact, do) occur. The creative differences are, still, a minor gripe of mine against this individual – those, I can both live with and come to a solution to if I feel strongly about a particular idea.
The issues rose when attacks on my person came about, after they disagreed on a direction I wished to take a particular character, along with the occasional bursts of anger, with insults disguised as “humor”. These, as well, were one of many issues that I had with this individual.
This lasted for four years, give or take.
Four years that I can never take back.
Four years that I could have wrapped up any number of my projects.
Four years was how long I put up with an unprofessional work environment, and called an end to the partnership.
And those four years, I had grown to irrationally resent Tolkien and loathe the genre he helped popularize, refusing to read, watch, and play anything that fell under the umbrella of “high fantasy”.
As silly as it seems, I had gotten fatigued and angry at the genre.
Until the release day of Sony’s latest exclusive…
I am familiar with the ‘GOD OF WAR’ series, having played some of the classic entries in the franchise; and given my history with the franchise, I consider myself a fan of the series and I had an interest in the subject matter of these games – our ancient myths and legends – for as long as I can remember.
Despite all of this, I was reluctant to pick this entry up, given my bitter experience working on the genre the game operates under, in terms of narrative and setting, anyway.
But I picked it up, nonetheless.
I never believed in the idea that one must hate a genre. Hate some of its offerings, or simply dislike it all together, but to feel angry towards a genre felt absurd to me. And yet, here I was, frustrated at a genre, needlessly angry and cruel to both it and its content creators by not giving them the chance they deserve.
The new ‘GOD OF WAR’ is set in the world Norse mythology, as opposed to the world of the Greek myths of the older entries. It’s taking inspiration from the same stories that had inspired Tolkien, all those years ago. And now I am taking inspiration from Kratos’ and his journey – his mental journey, that is.
Like Kratos, I have begun to realize that I should not give in to my anger any longer. Letting the frustrations of the past affect me so had led to me shutting down a genre I had once loved. Silly, to let one negative experience affect my feelings on an entire genre and its many sub-genres, but I wasn’t looking for reason. I simply could not separate the genre from the toxic collaborator.
As I traversed the realms of Norse mythology with Kratos and Atreus, I uncovered pieces of the lore, learning this world’s history with every piece discovered. I met dwarves, fought trolls, and traveled the realms, all while Bear McCreary’s wonderful score played in the background.
And as enjoyable all of those acts were, it was the simple sight of a certain witch’s giant turtle that reignited my passion for a genre I deemed dead to me. Perhaps my love of turtles helped heal the wounds, but I imagine the combination of phenomenal composition, beautiful scenery, and an encouragement for exploration helped in my recovery.
All I can really say is: thank you Cory Barlog and all the wonderful developers over at Santa Monica Studio for creative such a wonderful and gorgeous game. You helped this one writer to find her passion again.
Side note: slaughtering elves is also helpful.