The new reboot of Sony's God of War for PlayStation 4 is launched this week behind a brilliant critical reception. Here at GameSpot, we thought that one of the best parts of the game was the father-son dynamic between Kratos and Atreus. Critic Peter Brown said that this dynamic "improves combat and makes Kratos surprisingly identifiable."
It turned out that there was a point in development in which it was suggested that Atreus be eliminated from the game or that his role be significantly reduced. That's according to game director Cory Barlog, who told GameSpot that the game would have been possible without Atreus, but it would have been almost completely different. It would have felt like the Robert Redford movie All Is Lost about a man lost at sea.
"It would have been very different," Barlog said of whether they advanced without Atreus. "The initial phase when they said," Man, this could be too difficult, too expensive, we're already seeing so many challenges, it's maybe too much. "When I came back and said," Okay, well, if it was not with Atreus, would you? it would? "And, would it have been a very, very different game? The comparison I made was:" Alright, it's going to be All Is Lost with Robert Redford & # 39; ; is going to be a character who talks to himself occasionally, but in general, he will be very quiet and everyone will speak in Old Norse, so that you do not understand anything that someone says "
Presented with this scenario, the Sony high command gave Barlog the freedom to move forward with Atreus, despite any additional costs that could be incurred.
"I think the threat was enough for them to leave," Well, we'll face Atreus. "So, he was kind of a creative director, aggressive passive," Oh, yeah. Well, we will remove all the toys & # 39; ".
Lead level designer Rob Davis added that having Atreus in the mix opens up meaningful play and storytelling opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. You might think that Kratos is the biggest the tough guys in the world would provide enough opportunities for great gameplay and storytelling, and that may be true, but Atreus adds an interesting element of his own.
"Actually, as Atreus is an expert in Nordic language and mythology it's amazing because he can make a set of different designs based on what Atreus is an expert, which Kratos is not," Davis said. "And then you get a strange relationship, you know, Buzz Lightyear is good at one thing, Woody is good at something else, so that's the basis of some kind of strange couple."
Moreover, Kratos and Atreus are in a foreign country: Scandinavia. This allowed the developers to establish a third pillar of intrigue.
"You can make a third configuration in which neither of you really understands what is happening and then you get a great storytelling design, puzzle and exploration intersected because you are discussing what you have to solve together," Davis added. "They end up sort of with things where Kratos is really an expert, things in which the son is a kind of expert, and things that none of them is an expert in. And then, when you can write that, goal to that, design for that, that's where I think you have a new peanut butter and chocolate between Kratos and Atreus, but it did not exist before. "
And regarding the development of the character Kratos has experienced, Barlog said that people think they know who he is. But I wanted to avoid expectations and show the audience that nobody-a God of War or a person like you or me-can be reduced to one thing.
"I had just had my son, at the beginning of this game, and I was seeing him as" Oh, wow, how much of me do I want to show here? "- Barlog
" And , I thought, well, creatively, the best challenge I could face is to get people to reach the end of this game and that's it, or I feel bad, I feel connected, or I felt that moment was specifically related to me, or I've been through the same thing. " Barlog said about making Kratos identify himself. "If I could achieve that, with a character that everyone would think about," Whatever, he's just a guy who, in a movie, is going to kill people, "now that's an amazing thing."
Another factor at play here is that Barlog had a child at the beginning of the new God of War development, and this affected the way he thought about writing Kratos.
"I had just had my son, at the beginning of this game, and I was like looking at that tone like, 'Oh, wow, how much of myself I want to show here'." How many of my faults do I want covered and cover the masks and how many of the silly things I've done in my life? Do you want to prevent me from doing it? And, it's like, wow, that's Kratos, that's Kratos for a T – he's made the worst decision in his life, but he can really, truly, be a father. "
If Kratos was just a soldier he was to war and came home to see his son, this would not have the same emotional resonance as if he had to deal with his demons at home.
"It's like putting him in a situation where he has no choice, but for deal with that, "said Barlog. And, in this game, I had been trying to avoid it, even though I want to solve this, I had been avoiding it for so long, the beginning of this game is about forcing it into that situation. Honestly, for me, that's the most perfect dramatic terrain to play. "
We'll have our full interview with Barlog and Davis, who will be leaving soon. Please keep checking for more information. For now, you can check out the recent God of GameSpot – War stories below.