God of War Walks into the Holy Land
With the success of God of War (2018) and God of War Ragnorok, the mythos of the game presents a problem with maddening potential: the existence of not just Greek Gods but many other Realms of gods over their respective religions like Egypt and of course Norse mythology. Mimir the beheaded companion that rides on Kratos’s belt is also a god of Celtic mythology that crosses into Norse. There are even hints at the Norse God of War Tyr visiting eastern Asia as part of his diplomatic ventures involving Buddhist and Shinto mythology.
Now I have been told that the Abrahamic god is in fact still worshipped as of the current year and that how they are represented is important to people. Similarly, when the PS3 game Asura’s Wrath launched it was also criticized for how it represented Buddhist mythology. I mean sure cyborg god androids with spaceships using human souls as ammunition might be straying from Buddha’s teachings. I think it’s good to remember that this isn’t documentation of religion or history, the point of God of War is to see gods of mythology fighting for the fate of the world. It’s bringing a spectacle of life into the glory of their mythos.
It should be acknowledged that the original God of War series took full exploitation of the glorification of violence. The games pushed players to commit fetishistic cruelty beyond necessary or justifiable. Now it’s not entirely uncalled for considering greek parables are often full of greek gods giving their peers or mortals the devil’s end of a deal out of their own selfishness. Norse Mythology isn’t much different from the number of times Thor, Odin, or any of their associates slaughtered or cheated for their own amusement. The new God of War games does use the amorality of a younger villainous Kratos to create an older immortal man that has an eternity to regret the suffering he caused and raise a son he fears would repeat his mistakes. The God of War games today make an attempt to mature the story without rejecting the nature of the original games and their greek origins. God of War Ragnorok‘s story is a similar path of downfall to the original trilogy but works to iterate with a wiser cast of characters.
With this in mind, an Abrahamic God of War game fits the same narrative with the versions of the Old Testament focusing on the creation, principle, prophecies, and the founding of god’s people juxtaposed with the New Testament’s place of salvation, guidance, spirituality, and forgiveness. There’s an era of great supernatural creation, and destruction, where the forces of nature are decreed and the kingdoms of man are founded. The New Testament transitions the bronze age into the steel age with the collapse of Rome and the birthplace of Christianity (the start of the Christian calendar). It comes right up to the end of what society might think of the end of magic in our world as the Renaissance (the 1600s) founds the schools of science into the age of modern sciences.
So what part would a God of War game tell? Well, it could do just the New Testament which would explore themes of Christian cultures, it can be a sequel to the narrative of God of War 3 where Greece and the adjacent lands are decimated by the fall of the gods but the remaining power of the gods is dissipated into the land and people to rebuild much like how Rome fell and became what we know now as Italy. The main issue is how Jesus might play a part as he is the singularity of the mythos and his characterizations are never heroic. In Christianity Jesus is a humble sage-like person who is antithetical to the glory of violence and power. The God of Abraham himself is almighty but the son of god who lives as a man speaks as a mortal. The story of Jesus is filled with the miracles he brought in feeding hungry masses and traveling across the land healing the ill, much of the drama in his life was political with the reigning religions and Roman occupation having trouble with his growing influence. The supernatural conflicts are those of Jesus facing bewitched or possessed victims and banishing the demons from the mortal world or battles of wisdom against the devil’s temptations. Jesus ever becoming physically violent is very rare and sparse. There’s not much here for a violent hack-and-slash game to make do with but what this would make it a great Witcher-style game playing as a vagrant journeying and helping the people across the land with mortal and supernatural grievances.
For a God of War game true to its style it would need to be about the Old Testament. When God’s fingerprints are still fresh in the world with Angels roaming the land delivering God’s will to his chosen followers. I think Horror fans are already familiar with the artworks of Biblically described angels as terrifying as Lovecraft in their might and form. Angels that can fight the devil himself or wipe civilizations from existence are only met briefly for the safety of the people. Angels that could transform the world through cataclysms like volcanos, the burning of cities, blessed warriors, the splitting and flooding of oceans, or purifying firestorms. Some angels are present to face humans, to challenge and guide them through rhetoric or contests often gifting them a path laid by God.
The enemies to face would be demons in their supernatural presence feeding on human vice as well as possessed beasts and humans spreading suffering. There could be trials where Angels are sent to test Kratos to pull him into the Divine plan. Kratos is as expected extremely cautious about any proposition made by Gods considering how many times he’s heard and experienced them cheating deals and loyalty. It definitely provokes questioning of God’s character as he is recorded as capable of great wrath as but also forgiving, he will however not pause to punish humans that have forsaken their word.
There is so much history and culture involved as these religions and their branches dominate half the world’s feudal history. The only question is if the creators can bear such a massive burden and the responding discourse.