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God of War As a 'Child-Abuse Simulator' Didn't Work Well

Trying to find the happy medium for Kratos as a dad was a struggle for the development team. 


God of War is adding a wrinkle to its story this time, not counting the switch from Greek to Norse mythology. Now, the always-angry Kratos is a dad, and a character the development team at Sony Santa Monica has occasionally struggled with the find the right mix of deadly fighter mixed with firm instructive father figure.

Game director Cory Barlog said the team has gone back and forth several times on how Kratos should be portrayed, even taking him so far down the angry path that he was always mean to his son Atreus. "We were writing Kratos, and the team was just not feeling it early on," Barlog said in an interview with Shacknews. "It's very hard to find the balance of this guy. We either went too far and everyone was like, ‘This is so depressing, Kratos is so mean. He's terrible. It's a child-abuse simulator; he's yelling at his kid all the time.’ We went, ‘Okay, we went too far there.’ Then we pulled back, and people said, ‘He's like Obi-Wan Kenobi now. He's too nice.’ Then we had to find that just-right spot.”

Kratos is experiencing the growing pains of what it is like to be a father, much the way first-time dads do in real life. “It's not happening overnight,” Barlog said. “He's still going to stumble, he's still going to fail, just like we did when we started."

The conflict is obvious, especially from the trailer from Sony's E3 presentation last year. Kratos tries to mentor the boy without losing his temper. At the same time, at about the 8:15 mark in the trailer, when Atreus broods at not being able to finish a kill without the guiding hand of his father, we see Kratos extend a hand to comfort the boy, only to pull it back so as not to show too much of a soft side.

Be sure to check out the full interview with Barlog on the development of God of War.

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