Kratos, the protagonist of the God of War series, has undergone one of the most profound character transformations in video game history.
Originally portrayed as the embodiment of rage and vengeance in the Greek pantheon, Kratos’ reinvention in the Norse mythology setting of God of War (2018) and God of War: Ragnarok reveals a layered, more emotionally complex character.
This article delves into the psychological evolution of Kratos, exploring how his journey from a god of war to a father reflects significant themes of change, redemption, and humanity.
The Greek God of War: A portrait of rage
In earlier installments of the series, Kratos was defined by his unbridled anger and thirst for vengeance against the gods who wronged him. This relentless fury was rooted in a deep sense of betrayal and loss, painting Kratos as a tragic figure consumed by his own wrath.
His psychological profile was dominated by aggression, showcasing a character-driven almost exclusively by primal emotions and a desire for retribution.
This portrayal set the foundation for his eventual transformation, establishing a character whose depth was yet to be fully explored.
A new beginning: Kratos in Norse mythology
God of War (2018) marked a significant shift in Kratos’ character arc.
Transported to the world of Norse mythology, Kratos appeared as a man attempting to escape his violent past and the ghosts that haunted him.
This change of setting and tone brought a new dimension to his character, highlighting a struggle for self-control and a desire to break free from the cycle of anger and vengeance.
The psychological complexity of this transition was evident as Kratos grappled with the remnants of his former self, aiming to forge a new identity in a foreign land.
Father-Son dynamics: Relationship with Atreus
Perhaps the most significant factor in Kratos’ evolution is his relationship with his son, Atreus. This dynamic added a new layer to Kratos’ character, revealing aspects of care, concern, and vulnerability previously unseen.
The responsibility of fatherhood and the need to guide and protect Atreus brought forth a softer, more reflective side of Kratos.
This relationship tested and reshaped his understanding of strength, revealing that true power often lies in restraint, understanding, and emotional connection.
Facing the past and embracing change
Throughout God of War (2018) and God of War: Ragnarok, Kratos is continually confronted with his past.
These confrontations are pivotal in his psychological journey, forcing him to reconcile with who he was and who he wants to be. The theme of redemption is central to his story, offering a narrative of forgiveness and the possibility of fundamental change.
Kratos’ journey challenges the notion that nature is unchangeable, suggesting that even the most hardened individuals can find paths to redemption and change.
The evolution of a God
Kratos’ evolution in the God of War series is a testament to the power of narrative in video games.
His transition from a one-dimensional avatar of rage to a complex character grappling with issues of fatherhood, redemption, and identity adds remarkable depth to the series.
His story resonates not just as a tale of a god, but as a profoundly human journey of growth, change, and understanding, setting a new benchmark for character development in video games.