I have a lot of thoughts on the father-son mechanics and narrative of God of War: namely, that it’s a great way to give Kratos some character development, while adding new combat strategies to his repertoire without changing who is he is as a person too much. That being said, it also occasionally offers brief glimpses into the actual life of a parent. When you have kids, there are some things that are just universal, even if you’re a literal god dwelling in an immortal realm. Here are five moments I completely identified with in God of War.
Kid runs off and gets lost
Pretty much every parent has had a Press X To Jason moment, and it is terrifying. I don’t have the heart to vilify Kratos for, at one point, losing track of Atreus in the fog, especially given the sheer amount of verbal warnings the kid is given about wandering off or acting up. That being said, if Kratos was my dad, I’d want to run away and get lost too.
Kid mouthing off
If I have a favorite god-like activity, it’s hurling my axe at a ding dong machine for ten hours while my son mouths off like I’m a dumb asshole. Have you ever stood at, say, a parking meter, trying to figure out the archaic user interface and pay the damn fee while your kid stands there doing the pee pee dance and whining about what’s taking so long? If you ever have, you may understand the urge that one gets to suddenly lean over and hit the R3 button til you rip their skull in half. I’m lucky, my own daughter is rarely annoying, but nonetheless it comes as a shock on that fateful day when your kid suddenly starts spitting out their own individual personality. It’s equal parts horrifying and fascinating. On one hand you’re proud to have played a hand in their personal development. On the other hand you’re kicking yourself in the ass for basically giving birth to a talkback machine. If you’re as fortunate as I am, it forms a strong emotional bond that will see you through every difficult moment with your child. If you’re Kratos, you will get a stunning reminder that sometimes people can see through your gruff bullshit.
Kid actually making themself useful
One thing I love about God of War is that Atreus gets to actually help his dad—for example, in my game file right now he’s wearing a tunic that allows him to collect and apply health to Kratos when he’s low in battle. I didn’t often get a chance to tag along and help my dad with stuff when I was growing up, but I remember how proud I was when I did. Similarly, I love it when my own daughter pitches in and helps me with prep work in the kitchen or haul trash down to the dumpster. It’s one of those little moments of bonding that make you proud to have something of value to pass onto your child, where all the hard work seems to have paid off and you know that you’ve given them a skill and a sense of structure that will help them in adulthood. Plus, free labor.
Kid saving your ass by making an observation you couldn’t have ever made on your own in a thousand years
The amazing thing about kids is that they have no filter on what’s possible or impossible. And while most of the time this is horribly unhelpful, at times it highlights just how much we as adults have closed ourselves off to the very possibilities that might save our ass when it matters the most. A child’s internal life is defined by a constant navigation and renegotiation of their understanding of the world around them, and as a result, their observation skills and ability to question conventions can be astounding. I see it every time my daughter finds an alternate solution to an algebra question, or when she improvises a new technique while watercoloring. It’s especially impressive when I tell her to brush her teeth and she reminds me how stupid that would be right before breakfast.
“Stay near me and don’t touch anything!”
Every trip to every store. Ever.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer living in Seattle, WA. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.