Anger and destruction – those are the two words that best summarise Kratos. Since his first appearance on the PlayStation 2 through to the last outing in Ascension, there has never been a character that embodied the PlayStation brand quite like he has. Come Friday, 20 April, we will all finally get to join Kratos on his new adventure. According to our, and other, reviews, this is a new chapter in Kratos’ world and we’ll see a different side to him. However, before entering this new Norse setting it’s a good idea to recap how he got to this point.
God of War (2005 – PS2)
Kratos was once the captain of a very successful Spartan army who served the Greek Gods of Olympus. In one of his many battles Kratos finds himself facing death and ultimately calls on Ares to save him and his soldiers – in return he’ll serve Ares. Ares agrees, but to seal the deal Kratos will have the Blades of Chaos bonded to his arms. Kratos won that war against the barbarian king. From there onwards he served Ares and attacked on order. One such attack leads to him and his soldiers destroying a small village who worships Athena. Unbeknown to Kratos his God, Ares, had made plans for Kratos’ wife and son to be sent to that particular village and he kills them both by accident. The oracle bonds the ashes of his dead family to his skin and as result turns the colour of his skin to ash-white. From that day onwards Kratos is known as ‘The Ghost of Sparta’.
Having undergone this terrible trauma, Kratos vows to serve the other Gods to rid himself of these visions. God of War starts 10 years into his service to the Olympian Gods. That very first fight with the Hydra early on in the game is fought on behalf of Poseidon. However, Kratos is tired of being a puppet for the Gods and summons Athena. She makes an arrangement with Kratos – kill Ares and he’ll be forgiven for the murder of his family. It’s at this point that the game really kicks off. Kratos visits a war-torn Athens, The Desert of the Lost Souls where he’ll get to encounter Cronos for the first time, Pandora’s Temple (based on top of Cronos), The Underworld and finally Mount Olympus. The hack and slash mechanics was a joy to play for the first time and did a great job of showing off the blood thirst within Kratos. Puzzle elements, combined with great boss battles and the use of magic, made it a PS2 game worthy of the Gods and when Kratos eventually laid Ares to rest, using the Blade of the Gods, Athena tells him his sins are forgiven. Unfortunately, the rest of the Gods refuse to honour Athena’s promises and instead he is rewarded for serving the gods by receiving a new set of blades and a seat as the new ‘God of War’, replacing Ares… setting it up perfectly for a sequel.
God of War 2 (2007 – PS2)
The sequel was developed with one main theme in mind – betrayal. After enjoying his ‘God of War’ status Kratos finds out that the biggest God of the lot, Zeus, has betrayed him. Early on in the game, you’ll get to fight the Colossus of Rhodes. Struggling to defeat it, Zeus comes to the rescue and offers Kratos the Blade of Olympus. Using his last bit of God powers he demolishes the statue, but his effort has him hanging on by a thread. Tired of Kratos’ anger issues, Zeus makes him one last offer to change his way, which Kratos characteristically refuses, and Zeus kills him. Kratos yet again finds himself in the underworld but is saved by a Titan. Titan Gaia raised Zeus as a young child, who in due course betrayed the Titans. There is a score to settle. To help Kratos with another chance at getting back to Zeus his aim would be to track down the Sisters of Fate who can alter time to head back in time and prevent his death.
God of War 2 was a much bigger game in scale. The boss fights were simply some of the most cinematic experiences in a game at that stage and it delved even deeper into the world of Greek Mythology. Riding onboard a Griffin was a new experience for fans and upgrading your Blades of Chaos felt absolutely amazing. Later on, players would unlock the Barbarian Hammer, the Spear of Destiny and, for a limited time, the Blade of Olympus. Kratos was angrier than ever. Platforming also saw an improvement with particular sections requiring you to time your jumps carefully.
By the time you’ve reached the conclusion of the second game Kratos would have violently finished off many Gods and other foes, but there lies one big surprise towards the end of the game. Kratos surprises Zeus by altering time and goes against Athena’s wishes by trying his luck at killing Zeus. To avoid this from happening, Athena sacrifices herself. Before she does she lets Kratos in on a little secret – Zeus is his dad. Not to be taken lightly Kratos tells Zeus that the rule of the Gods is coming to an end and heads back in time to assist them in the great war they had lost against Zeus. With Titans on his side, he climbs Mount Olympus to once and for all end Zeus…
God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008 – PSP)
Before the chapter would be closed on the main series of the God of War saga on console there was another story to be told in a portable manner. Make no mistake, it might be portable, but this was still the God of War game we all had come to enjoy and love. The story takes place over the 10 years that Kratos was in service of the Gods, before the first God of War game kicked off.
The Spartan and his army are sent to Attica to help them defend against Persian invasion. He overpowers the army with brute force and in doing so brings an end to the Persian King, including his pet basilisk. Once the battle is over Kratos witnesses the sun falling from the sky, turning the world into darkness. As he makes his way back he hears the sound of a flute melody he once knew – his dead daughter, Calliope, used to play that melody. It’s the first time in the God of War universe that you’re made aware of his daughter. Kratos again makes his way past many Gods and foes and comes face-to-face with his biggest decision so far. The Queen of the Underworld gives him the following options – abandon all his powers to be with his daughter, or continue with his mission without her. Kratos, still living with the sins of killing his family, gives up everything to be with his daughter.
What Kratos is unfortunately not aware of is that Persephone is sour due to an earlier betrayal with Zeus (Remember, at this point, Kratos and Zeus still get along) and while in his state with his daughter she attempts to destroy the Pillar of the World, in turn also demolishing Olympus. Instead, Kratos makes the heartbreaking decision of letting his daughter go for eternity. For a PSP game this was a touch of class and brought some emotion to the forefront – something not many handheld games could do up to that point. Tapping the circle button to pull away from his daughter… you could just about feel the heartache he was experiencing. He binds Atlas to the Pillar of the World, thus forcing the Titan to hold the weight. Kratos finishes the job by killing Persephone and, just before she dies (very much a God of War thing, it seems), she tells him that his suffering will never end. With that, he hops on a Sun Chariot and makes his way back to Zeus.
God of War 3 (2010 – PS3)
The series took off from where it came to a conclusion in the sequel. Kratos is hellbent on bringing an end to Zeus and all the Gods. No one is safe and he’s on the back of a Titan (Gaia) making his way up Mount Olympus. KRATOS IS VERY ANGRY. Poseidon is the first God to try his hand at squashing Kratos, the pest that he is, but fails. Kratos slaughters him and ascends to the top to face off against Zeus. Zeus, not in the mood for Kratos’ silly games, topples Kratos and Gaia and they fall over the cliff. Gaia, calling Kratos a pawn for the Titans, refuses to save him and he plummets into the River Styx.
God of War 3 was a big step forward for the series. Puzzles were much improved, the combat was much tighter with some spectacular combos and before you knew it Kratos was spreading his wings to fly. On his way back to Zeus he kills Hades, Gaia (who left him for dead), the Titan Perses, Helios, Hermes, Hercules and Hephaestus. The most impressive fight leading up to the finale with Zeus is that of Cronos. The Titan you met in the first game to retrieve Pandora’s Box is a formidable foe and is still a sight to behold to this day. The scale pushed the power of the PS3 and seeing Kratos pulling off individual nails had us squirming with the thought of the pain Cronos must be enduring.
The final battle has the two Gods, Kratos and Zeus, battling it out for supremacy. Kratos ultimately ends up beating Zeus with his bare hands until he stops breathing. Athena asks Kratos to return what he took from Pandora’s Box, but he has other plans. Not for a moment longer will he be a pawn for anyone. He ends his own life. Stick around after the end credits and Kratos is nowhere to be found, except for a trail of blood drops… (the 2018 God of War takes place after this particular game)
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (2010 – PSP)
Much like Chains of Olympus players will meet more loved ones in Kratos’ life. The difference in Ghost of Sparta is that both people are still alive, for now. Events get going with the Oracle predicting that Olympus will fall at the hands of a marked warrior. Being well aware of these words, Zeus and Ares discover that Kratos’ brother, Deimos, has a birthmark on his face and at an early age kidnaps him while in training with Kratos to prevent the prophecy becoming a reality. The game starts years later when Kratos, who is by now the God of War, decides to find his brother and save him.
Kratos travels to Atlantis where he finds his mother, Callisto. She attempts to tell him who his father is and before finishing her sentence she turns into a monster and we know Kratos can only do one thing – kill it. Before dying (yes, again) she directs him towards where he can find Deimos, in Sparta. Upon reaching his brother, Kratos frees him, but they’re attacked by Thanatos (The God of Death) who kills Deimos. Kratos, in turn, annihilates Thanatos and returns home to Olympus in a rather pissed off mood with the Olympian Gods.
God of War Ascension (2013 – PS3)
What was only a story in the very first game is now something you get to experience in Ascension. Yes, it’s a prequel. It’s based six months after Kratos attacked the village, as ordered by Ares in the first game that killed his wife and son.
The game starts off with Kratos being chained and tormented by the Furies for betraying the oath with Ares. As can be expected there’s nothing that’ll keep Kratos captured for too long as he breaks free and kills Megaera who tortured him. Ascension is also not quite as straight-forward as other God of War titles as the narrative does jump all over the show, as events move back and forth between time.
Kratos is confronted by Orkos, while in the village of Kirra. According to him the visions Kratos experience are all mind games and can be eradicated by killing the Furies. As you might imagine by now Kratos jumps head first into the problem and ends up being captured by the Furies. Orkos helps him escape and not long thereafter they capture him again, taking away all his powers while they’re at it. Thanks to the amulet Kratos can manipulate time, which helps him in these situations, the various puzzles and bits of platforming players experience in the game. Throughout his journey in Ascension, it’s hard to establish whether Kratos is experiencing an illusion or if it’s real. There’s a moment where Kratos is tricked into thinking he’s back with his wife and son – memories that never stop haunting him.
Kratos does finally bring a closure to this chapter in his life by destroying the Furies, but once he returns to Sparta Orkos approaches him with a complicated request – he wants Kratos to kill him. The only way to rid himself of the bond with Ares is to kill Orkos. After numerous pleads Kratos obliges and kills Orkos and thus start his journey on defeating the Olympian Gods in the very first God of War game.
God of War (2018 – PS4)
Friday we will all finally be able to return to Kratos’ world, but this time there are no Greek Gods in sight. This is a new Kratos for a new era, with new challenges and threats. The Norse setting promises to be daunting, yet breathtaking. Norse Mythology is just as exciting as Greek, if not better. Expect another sense of scale and immersion. Anything is possible.
Is Kratos still as angry? Does he still have visions pestering him? How much of his past is going to affect his mindset in the present? Is his son real or a fiction of his imagination? Is he even real or is it just a dream? All these questions and more will be answered. We hope you’re ready for God of War, because we surely are.
Disclaimer: This article was sponsored. The content was created in-house and we chose the topic and tone of the article.