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Tough Love

April 25, 2018 by Tim

I am savoring the shit out of God of War. This is one of those games you remember for years and years after the fact. So many incredible moments. Sindri is my new obsession.

However, I don’t know if its just me, but as the father to two little boys, it is hard to watch Kratos give his kid the cold shoulder at the start of the game. The boy’s mother just died (you literally spend your first moments in the game constructing a funeral pyre for her), and Kratos (as I guess you’d imagine), expresses all the compassion of a giant, concrete sculpture of a middle finger.

On a couple of occassions, he even almost reaches out to comfort the boy, and rather than giving you, the player, the option, he retracts his unnoticed gesture.

Now, a caveat here, as spoiler-free as I can make it: as you continue to play the game and learn more and more about Kratos and Atreus’ distant relationship, the game does… things to show you something deeper. Kratos doesn’t become warm and fuzzy, but the game illustrates his love for the boy in very nuanced and powerful unspoken ways. I know that particular father-son dynamic doesn’t sound like anything that hasn’t been done before, but it’s executed really well in this game. It’s something that’s going to stick with me.

That’s all I’m going to say about that because, again, I don’t want to get into spoilery territory. But as difficult as it is to watch Kratos deny his son some basics like praise and compassion (and honestly, the tough love approach does make sense in the world they’re living in, and given Kratos’ background), you do at least get to see something below the surface.

On a different note, I think my four-year-old is starting to wonder why I’ve begun addressing him as “boy.”

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