Ever since God of War II director Cory Barlog accidentally confirmed in 2014 that a new instalment in the franchise was in development at Sony Santa Monica Studios, many have been curious what the next adventure of Kratos, everyone’s favourite roid-raging Spartan-turned-demi-god, would be. Well, fast forward to today and some leaked artwork from the website of an artist who worked at Santa Monica in 2015 would indicate God of War 4 (an unconfirmed title) might be shifting away from its Greek mythological roots, instead moving over to tackle Norse mythology.
The leak was revealed by the website NerdLeaks, which has since been taken offline, and is now archived in a NeoGAF forum. The images seem to show interpretations of Norse mythological icons that many may be familiar with from the recent Thor Marvel movies, such as the Bifröst Rainbow Bridge, as well as numerous other environments and enemy types.
And the craziest part? There’s a character featured in a few of the images who looks incredibly similar to Kratos himself. In fact, some of the images actually refer to the character by name as Kratos.
Sure, he may have very un-Kratos like attributes, like sporting a lumberjack beard and wearing pants, but that bald head and badass spiral tattoo certainly can’t be a coincidence.
Now leaks such as these always need to be approached with caution, because despite outlets like Polygon stating their sources confirm the images are legitimate, these could be from early in the pre-production process and could represent scrapped ideas.
But say we humour them for a moment and take them as a sign that yes, God of War 4 will be changing its mythological setting and yes, the main character is in fact Kratos, what does this mean for the narrative continuity of the series? I, for one, can think of two plausible possibilities as to how Sony Santa Monica could make this idea work, both of which sound ridiculous, but in a good way!
Kratos has become a dimension hopping deity hunter
By the end of God of War III (the last game in the franchise chronologically), Kratos had decimated the Olympians. He had slashed, tortured and maimed all but one of the gods, Aphrodite being the exception whom he just had sex with, in his quest to get revenge on Zeus. Each of their deaths resulted in their respective responsibilities spiralling out of control and essentially caused the end of the world. And even though Kratos had been stabbed through the torso by the world’s largest sword and left for dead, he may have survived to slaughter another day due to an end credits teaser showing his body had disappeared, leaving a trail of blood leading off into the distance.
So, given the world Kratos has been inhabiting is crumbling around him given he’s murdered all the people who kept it together, how could he be off fighting a new set of gods in the lush environments we’ve seen in the leaked art? Unless Sony Santa Monica are saying the Norse gods coexist in the same world as the Greek ones, I would argue that perhaps Kratos is going to travel to another dimension or plane of existence where the former deities are real just as the latter ones were in the previous one.
Basically, Kratos has become some kind of inter-dimensional god slayer.
It would explain Kratos’ appearance in the concept art, since perhaps appearing in another universe could have altered his physical body to match the realm he’s found himself in. It could also take care of the issue of Kratos being a fully trained, magical badass warrior by the time the God of War 4 begins, as a different universe could use magic in a different way and thus not allow him take his abilities with him? I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but it sure as heck is more original than the River Styx stealing his life essence yet again.
But maybe dimension hopping is a little too far for the God of War series, as I reckon the scenario of a Spartan warrior out of his time in Norse mythology might derail whatever other story Sony Santa Monica would rather tell. But, in keeping with the multi-verse theory, maybe…
There’s always a Kratos, always some gods…
Remember the movie The One, that average Jet Li film where there were thousands of alternate universes, each one with different versions of the same people, and Li’s character was being hunted by an alternate version of himself hell bent on being the only one in existence? Yeah, it wasn’t great, but that kind of setting could make such a huge mythological shift work within the God of War franchise.
It opens up many opportunities to either mirror or differ from the original story, particularly through Kratos. Greek Kratos was known as the Ghost of Sparta given his skin was bleached white due to a mystic grafting the ashes of his family upon his flesh, and he was feared and vilified throughout the world. Would an alternate, Norse Kratos have suffered a similar fate? Playing with the constants and variables (to quote Bioshock Infinite) of this universe could be interesting; perhaps Norse Kratos could too be condemned by society for perpetrating an atrocity, but one of a different kind? Will he be the son of Odin as he was to Zeus?
Or maybe there should just be a Matrix style constant, that in every universe the gods have something to fear: Kratos, a strong warrior who is prophesied to end their reign.
Regardless, we’ll have to wait for the official reveal of whatever it is God of War 4 turns out to be before we can know if I’m on to something here. Given Sony Santa Monica’s previous track record of releasing God of War games in three year intervals, we may end up seeing details of this new game at E3 later in the year. Heck, we may even see the game come out this year if they pull a Bethesda and announce the game and an imminent release window like they did with Fallout 4. Although most God of War games have had a March release date, so I highly doubt that will be the case.
In the meantime, I’m just going to sit here and imagine Kratos kicking the crap out of Thor. That pretty boy needs to be taken down a peg or two…