God of War: Ascension will show the 'utterly complex' side of Kratos
Regardless of how well the God of War games have been received, there seems to be a perception that, from a character development standpoint, Kratos leaves a lot to be desired. There's a belief among some that he's a one-dimensional character capable only of expressing anger. Santa Monica Studios is hoping to change that perception with God of War: Ascension, the newest installment to the long-standing franchise and a prequel set six months to a year after the death of Kratos' family. If you don't believe me, just check out the recently released trailer in which the angered demigod sheds a tear over the loss of his family.
It's certainly an interesting direction to take the series, which left off *SPOILER* with Kratos stabbing himself for reasons I won't further spoil. Speaking to God of War: Ascension lead designer Mark Simon, he couldn't really offer insight into the thought process behind the switch, he did explain why he was happy with the move.
"If you would have gone to the end of the trilogy, you would have had a Kratos that I think everybody recognized and understood what he was and what he was about," Simon told me. "While that subject matter could be pretty awesome, you also can go back in time and what you deal with -- and I think this is what the initial direction was -- is what is the humanity of this guy? Why is he made up the way that he is?"
"What that means is you touch on subjects you don't know about yet," he explained to me. "You don't understand his relationship fully with his wife and his kid. You don't know why he's become the guy he's become in the beginning of God of War 1."
"Some bad stuff has to happen to you to turn into that guy. And what was that adventure? What was those things that happened to him along the way that turned him into the guy that he was?"
Simon went on to say that the story of God of War: Ascension will give us some insight into Kratos' life and why he is the way he was, but also pointed out that just because Kratos doesn't speak, doesn't mean he isn't a complex character. If that's the case, and Kratos really is deeper then many of us have been led to believe, then I think it becomes more of a presentation issue. Hopefully, God of War: Ascension will address this, and it definitely sounds like it will.
"I think from a story, if you are trying to learn something about a character that people say may be one dimensional and stuff like that, but I consider to be utterly complex -- just because he doesn't say anything doesn't mean he's not a complex character -- I think that we get to go back and get to deal with this guy going on that ride. We find out why he is the way that he is."
Simon concluded: "I think you'll have a deeper understanding of why Kratos is the character he is. I think that's what the story's about, kind of how he's risen to become the guy he was in the beginning of the God of War trilogy."
I recently had a chance to go hands-on with God of War: Ascension's single player campaign, which you can read about here.