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Best Of 2022: God Of War Ragnarok’s Twist On Norse Mythology Is An Excellent Subversion



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Spoilers forward for God of Battle and God of Battle Ragnarok

“Baldur is blessed with invulnerability to all threats, bodily or magical,” Mimir explains to Kratos and his son Atreus in 2018’s God of Battle. But as quickly as Sindri, the dwarven blacksmith, gave a bundle of mistletoe arrows to the younger god, I knew Baldur’s destiny was sealed.

I am not an professional on Norse mythology, however the fables of Odin, Thor, the giants, and Vanir are one thing I’ve had an curiosity in for quite a few years now. I do know the broad strokes surrounding Ragnarok and among the smaller myths, starting from the story of Thor creating the tides after being tricked into consuming the ocean, to the story of the development of Asgard’s walls–which ends with Loki being impregnated by a horse, by the way. Whereas some gamers have been questioning how Kratos was ever going to cease an unkillable god, I knew the reply was already sitting proper in entrance of us, neatly docked on Atreus’ quiver. The precise particulars of Baldur’s eventual demise could differ in God of Battle in comparison with the Norse mythology it pulls from, however mistletoe–and by extension, Atreus–still play a vital function within the demise of its fearsome antagonist.

Most of what we find out about Norse delusion comes from the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, two Outdated Norse texts from the thirteenth century. I’ve briefly explored each, however most of my data of those outdated pagan tales comes from Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, a wonderful e book that retells most of the Norse myths whereas making them palatable for a contemporary viewers. Due to this, God of Battle did not throw too many curveballs my manner other than one main exception. The ultimate reveal that Atreus is the truth is Loki was a reasonably stunning one, not least as a result of it launched some points relating to the timeline of occasions. For essentially the most half, nevertheless, God of Battle sticks pretty intently to the mythology it is pulling from, solely notably deviating in relation to its depiction of sure characters and their prominence within the story. Oh, and there is not often an indignant Greek god, both.

Going into God of Battle Ragnarok, I used to be anticipating extra of the same–more delicate spins on in any other case well-established mythos. I could not have been extra fallacious. For all of the reward I may lavish on so many various points of Santa Monica Studio’s spellbinding sequel, the one which stands out as most deserving is how typically the sport’s narrative toys with established data of Norse mythology earlier than subverting these expectations in fascinating methods.

Fenrir is without doubt one of the clearest examples. Initially of God of Battle Ragnarok, Fenrir, who’s one in every of Atreus’ pet wolves, dies within the younger boy’s arms simply moments after we first meet him. This can be a shocking flip of occasions contemplating Fenrir performs a pivotal function within the Norse myths, killing Odin by consuming him entire in the course of the world-ending occasions of Ragnarok. You see, Fenrir is one in every of Loki’s three kids, the opposite two being Hel, the goddess of the underworld, and Jormungandr, the world serpent. It is prophesied by the Aesir that each one three will convey nice misfortune upon the gods due to who their father is.

In Norse mythology, Loki is usually depicted as a crafty trickster who operates as each a companion and enemy to the opposite gods. The identical could be stated of Atreus, although Santa Monica Studio considerably redeems the mischief-maker by depicting him as somebody able to empathy and kindness as nicely. This significant change in characterization can be mirrored in Fenrir. When the wolf dies, Atreus inadvertently locations Fenrir’s soul inside his knife, later transplanting it contained in the physique of the large wolf, Garm. Fenrir won’t be Loki’s son within the conventional sense, however Atreus resurrects him with this act and it isn’t outlandish to think about him his creator. It is a distinctive twist on the Norse delusion that falls in step with God of Battle’s depiction of the younger god. Somewhat than swallowing Odin entire throughout Ragnarok, Fenrir reveals as much as provide our heroes an escape–saving lives somewhat than ending them. He isn’t the vengeful pressure he’s in Norse mythology, and that is partly as a result of Atreus is a vastly totally different character to the unique Loki, typically deciding in opposition to violence as a primary response.

Jormungandr’s function in God of Battle extra intently resembles the Norse delusion, as we see the large snake sq. off in opposition to Thor in the course of the battle of Ragnarok. Nevertheless, the conclusion to their encounter–and the implications born from it–are far more attention-grabbing than the unique story. Seeing the second from afar in the course of the recreation’s large-scale finale is breathtaking; the world serpent looms over the horizon as he collides with the tiny speck of lightning that’s Thor, crashing into the portal for Alfheim when he is struck by a mighty blow from Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. In Norse mythology, the world serpent and thunder-god are arch-enemies, prophesied to kill one another come Ragnarok. The legend states that Thor finishes off the serpent with a killing blow from his hammer, solely to take 9 steps ahead earlier than succumbing to the lethal poison Jormungandr has coated him in. In God of Battle Ragnarok, the battle ends when Thor hits the large snake so laborious that it splinters the world tree, Yggdrasil, and sends Jormungandr again in time to a interval lengthy earlier than his birth–a prophecy that Mimir tells Kratos and Atreus about in 2018’s God of Battle.

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The Jormungandr in that game–who finds Atreus oddly acquainted after they first meet–is the identical one who will get hit again in time by Thor. Whereas that is occurring, the present-day world serpent is hibernating beneath the ice within the Lake of 9. He wasn’t born centuries in the past, however somewhat when Atreus and Angrboda head to her grandmother’s home in Jotunheim, the realm of the giants. There, Atreus revives a big snake with a lacking soul by giving it the soul of a large, much like how he transplants Fenrir’s soul into Garm’s physique. As soon as once more, Loki is not Jormungandr’s father within the conventional sense, however he makes use of his large powers to present life to the world serpent. As Mimir posits, this additionally explains why Jormungandr has a private vendetta in opposition to Thor earlier than they even encounter each other. It is very probably that the 2 clashed when the large was nonetheless alive in its unique physique.

There are many different examples the place God of Battle Ragnarok subverted my expectations of Norse mythology, however these involving Atreus are essentially the most fascinating. Loki is an integral character within the Outdated Norse texts and Atreus nonetheless fills that function, albeit in a vastly totally different manner.

This reinterpretation of historic mythology has all the time been part of God of Battle’s DNA. It originated in Greece, pitting Kratos in opposition to Zeus and the remainder of the Greek pantheon, earlier than heading north to Midgard and past. The wonderful thing about historic mythology– and particularly Norse mythology–is that it is open to interpretation, with loads of blanks ready to be stuffed in by your individual creativeness. Numerous the characters in Norse delusion are barely even that; they’re simply names talked about in passing. Baldur is described as being common, after which he is lifeless. He has no dialogue, nor a tinge of character, but Santa Monica Studio turned him right into a multi-layered villain. There are moments in Ragnarok that excited me due to my present data, however essentially the most gratifying thrill got here from seeing these occasions reworked for a brand new viewers. It speaks to the enduring attraction of those thousand-year-old myths, and their implausible reinterpretation performs a serious function in elevating God of Battle Ragnarok into one of many best games of 2022.

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