The new “God of War” reboot of Sony for PlayStation 4 launches behind a glowing critical reception in the current week. One of the best parts of the game was that of the father-son dynamic between Kratos and Atreus, which enhances the combat and makes Kratos surprisingly relatable.
As it turns out, in the development, there was a point where it was suggested that Atreus be cut from the game or have his role scaled back significantly. That is in accordance with Cory Barlog, the game director who said that the game would have been possible without Atreus, but it would have been entirely different. It would have seemed like the Robert Redford movie All Is Lost regarding a man lost in the sea. Presented with this framework, the higher-ups at Sony gave Cory Barlog the freedom to go forward with Atreus, in spite of whatever extra price it might incur.
Rob Davis, the lead level designer added that having Atreus in the mix actually opens up significant gameplay and storytelling opportunities that may not be otherwise possible. One may think that Kratos being the biggest badass in the world would extend enough opportunities for cool gameplay and storytelling, and that might be true, but Atreus adds an interesting essence of his own.
Davis said that actually like having Atreus be an expert in Norse language and mythology is awesome as a whole other set of design can be done on the basis of what Atreus is an expert in that Kratos is not. He further said that people could get a bit of an odd couple relationship. Further still, Atreus and Kratos are in a foreign land that is Scandinavia. This lets the developers put forth a third pillar of interest.
Davis added that a third setup could be done where neither of them really understand what is going on and then a cool storytelling level design and puzzles and exploration could be got intersecting as they are discussing the thing that they have to work out together. Davis further said that they end up kind of with things Kratos is really an expert in, things the son is kind of an expert in, and things neither of them is an expert in, and then, when one could write that, goal to that, design to that, that is where he thought one has a new peanut butter and chocolate between Kratos and Atreus, but it did not exist before.
About the character development, which Kratos has gone through, Barlog said that people thought they know who he is. But he wished to circumvent the expectations and show the audience that no one, be it a God of War or a normal person, could be boiled down to one thing.
About making Kratos relatable, Barlog said that he thought that creatively, the best challenge that he could ever take on is to actually make people reach the end of the game and go, ‘I either feel bad, I feel connected, or I felt like that moment was specifically related to me, or I have gone through that same thing.’ He added that if he could achieve that, with a character that everybody thought, ‘Whatever, he’s just a guy that, in a cinematic, goes to kill people,’ it would be an amazing thing.