'God Of War' Was Inspired By Director's Relationship With His Son
Is it too early to call God of War an instant classic? Probably not, given the reaction to the latest iteration of the Playstation 4 game, which is fast becoming one of the biggest critical and commercial hits in years.
Also key to the game's popularity is its emotional resonance - and now creative director Cory Barlog has spoken out about how the game is based on his own experiences as a father.
While many have waxed lyrical about the graphics and the aesthetics of God of War - and they are stunning - what has captured the imagination of most critics is the way that the game feels and the emotional involvement that players have in Kratos, the previously underwhelming central character.
In the earlier games in the series, you might well have mentioned his crap tattoos and beard ahead of his personality - so far, so heavy metal guitarist - but in this more recent production, Kratos is a conflicted soul, trying to connect with his son and juggling his desire to do good with, well, his desire to have a great time smashing stuff up.
This is no accident, of course. Recently Barlog spoke to the Guardian about how parenthood had changed his perspectives, as the birth of his son Helo occurred around the same time God of War went into development.
"I had this idea that I didn't want to have kids until my career was at the right point, until we have a house, until we have savings of at least this much," he said.
"None of that came true. It just happened. You can't plan these things. Kratos also thinks he knows what he wants, but he's not really sure how to do it.
"This is somebody who could take down a mountain-sized beast, but a conversation with his son is a challenge that he just can't overcome. Something we take for granted is, for him, Herculean."
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Having started working on the series back in 2003, Barlog was used to 'willingly' over-extending his working day until '2 or 3am every day, working seven days a week'. However, he came to realise that this workload had affected his relationship with Helo.
Subsquently, he channeled the experience into Kratos' unsteady dealings with his own son, Atreus.
"So much of it reflects our relationship, and my desires," he told the newspaper.
"I would love to go on an adventure with [Helo]. I hope that he would want to - that we wouldn't have this awkward relationship that unfortunately we have right now, because I work so much.
"Because Kratos wasn't around much in Atreus's early years, Atreus interprets that as, 'You don't love me, you don't want to spent time with me, it's obvious that I don't live up to your expectations.' I'm trying to be better for my son. And regretting every moment that I'm not spending with him."
Essentially, this involved changing the makeup of the game's central character.
"I wanted to take on the challenge of a character everybody thought they knew, and make them think twice about who he is," said Barlog.
"I liked the idea that there was a lot more to Kratos than any of us knew. In order to get that change to ring true, especially with a character as quiet as Kratos, you need an external force. That's where Atreus came in.
"So much of the game continues to hammer on this theme of family, from so many different perspectives. Some characters actively try to tell Kratos and Atreus: 'Please, learn from me, I've made mistakes'. Others hold up a mirror to them."
Featured Image Credit: God of War/SIE Santa Monica