When you talk about iconic video game characters, few have carved a mark like Kratos, the protagonist of the God of War saga. From his brutal beginnings as a Spartan warrior to his tumultuous reign as the God of War and beyond, his journey is a tapestry of vengeance, redemption, and mythological brilliance.
This article delves into the depths of the epic saga, tracing the steps of the Ghost of Sparta through a world richly woven with the threads of ancient Greek and Norse mythologies through eight games.
God of War (2005) – PS2
God of War is an epic adventure set in the mythological world of ancient Greece. It follows the story of Kratos, a Spartan warrior haunted by his dark past, as he seeks redemption and retribution against the deities he once served.
The tormented warrior: Kratos
Kratos, once a celebrated Spartan commander, faced defeat and near death at the hands of a powerful barbarian king.
In a desperate plea, he pleaded with Ares, the Greek God of War, for strength to conquer his foes, pledging his eternal servitude. Ares granted this request, bestowing upon him the formidable Blades of Chaos, leading to the brutal defeat of the barbarian king.
Betrayal and the pursuit of vengeance
Kratos’ loyalty to Ares led him to commit heinous acts, including the assault on a village dedicated to Athena.
Tragically, he was unaware that his family had been secretly placed there by Ares. In a blind rage, he killed them, an act that would haunt him forever.
Condemned by the village’s oracle, Kratos was marked with a curse that turned his skin ghostly white with the ashes of his deceased family, symbolizing his eternal torment.
The odyssey for Pandora’s box
As the narrative unfolds, Kratos is depicted a decade into his servitude under the gods, burdened by relentless nightmares of his past.
Athena offers him a path to absolution: the assassination of Ares. He embarks on a perilous journey to retrieve Pandora’s Box, believed to contain the power to slay a god.
His quest leads him to a temple situated on the Titan Cronos, where he braves various dangers and retrieves the Box.
The final confrontation and a new God of War
In a dramatic twist, Ares kills Kratos as he departs the temple. However, the Spartan defies fate, escaping the Underworld and confronting Ares in Athens.
After opening Pandora’s Box and gaining immense powers, he engages in a fierce battle with Ares. Despite Ares’ psychological and physical onslaught, Kratos prevails, using the Blade of the Gods to defeat him.
Although he is absolved of his sins, his nightmares persist. Driven to despair, he attempts to end his life, but Athena intervenes. Recognizing his bravery and strength, she elevates Kratos to the position of the new God of War, succeeding Ares.
God of War II (2007) – PS2
God of War II continues the saga of Kratos, who has become the new God of War after triumphing over Ares. Set 13 years later, Kratos, now plagued by nightmares and excluded by other gods for his destructive actions, embarks on a new journey.
Defying Athena’s cautions, he leads the Spartans in a siege on Rhodes.
A mysterious eagle, assumed to be Athena, saps his powers and brings the Colossus of Rhodes to life. Zeus then presents Kratos with the potent Blade of Olympus.
Kratos, channeling his divine powers into the blade, becomes mortal. After vanquishing the Colossus, Zeus reveals his true identity as the eagle and fatally wounds the Ghost of Sparta, devastating the Spartan forces.
Rescue by Gaia
On the brink of being dragged into the Underworld, Kratos is rescued by Titan Gaia. She advises him to seek the Sisters of Fate, who have the power to change time and enable his vengeance against Zeus.
His quest is marked by encounters with notable figures like Prometheus, whom he liberates from endless torment, and battles against mythical entities such as Theseus, the Barbarian King, Euryale, Perseus, and Icarus.
He also interacts with Atlas, who discloses the Titans’ vendetta against Zeus.
Zeus’ Confrontation and Athena’s Demise
Kratos faces the Sisters of Fate. Despite their manipulation of his past conflicts, including his battle with Ares, he prevails. Gaining control over the Loom of Fate, he rewinds time to Zeus’ betrayal.
As he nearly finishes Zeus, Athena sacrifices herself to protect him.
She reveals the shocking truth of Kratos being Zeus’ son and Zeus’ fear of being overthrown by him, akin to Zeus’ own betrayal of Cronos.
Time Manipulation and War’s Prelude
The game culminates with Kratos traveling back in time to rescue the Titans before their defeat in the Great War. Returning to the present, he leads the Titans in a formidable offensive against Mount Olympus, observed anxiously by the gods.
God of War Betrayal (2007) – Mobile
God of War Betrayal is the only game in the series not released on a PlayStation platform. Its events are set between Ghost of Sparta and God of War II as Kratos is accused of murder, and goes on a killing spree across Greece seeking the true culprit.
Kratos’ Campaign and Assault by Argos
As he leads the Spartan forces through Greece, he faces a series of attacks from creatures commanded by Argos, a beast dispatched by the gods to halt his progress.
Amid these battles, Argos is slain by a mysterious assassin. This act is wrongly attributed to Kratos, seemingly to turn the gods against him.
The pursuit of the assassin and Hades’ interference
Determined to find the true culprit, Kratos chases the assassin across Greece, contending with relentless assaults from Hades’ minions.
Zeus sends his messenger, Ceryx, to urge the Spartan to abandon his pursuit. Defiant, he engages and defeats Ceryx, inadvertently enabling the assassin’s escape.
This confrontation leads Kratos to a sobering realization: his actions have further estranged him from the gods, setting the stage for Zeus’s impending response to his defiance.
God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008) – PSP
God of War: Chains of Olympus set as a prelude to the original God of War, tells the story of Kratos in ancient Greece, where he is bound to serve the gods of Olympus.
The plot revolves around the mysterious vanishing of the Sun God, Helios, leading to darkness enveloping the world and allowing Morpheus, the God of Dreams, to cast gods into deep slumber.
Defense of Attica and search for Helios
Kratos is sent to Attica to repel a Persian invasion. Victorious over the Persian King and a fearsome basilisk, he notes the sun’s disappearance, causing global darkness.
His path leads him through Marathon, amidst Morpheus’ pervasive fog, and echoes of a tune from his late daughter, Calliope.
Athena assigns him the task of locating and restoring Helios to the heavens to dispel Morpheus’ influence.
Underworld clash with Charon
Kratos’ mission to rescue Helios brings him to the Underworld. He faces Charon, the Styx River’s ferryman.
Initially bested and thrown into Tartarus, Kratos, armed with the Gauntlet of Zeus, returns to defeat Charon, paving his way further into the Underworld.
Showdown with Persephone and Atlas
At the Temple of Persephone, he is torn between relinquishing his powers to reunite with Calliope and pursuing his quest. Choosing duty, he uncovers the scheme of Persephone and Atlas to use Helios’ power to demolish the Pillar of the World.
In a dramatic confrontation, Kratos subdues both adversaries, with Atlas being doomed to eternally bear the world’s weight.
Despite his triumph, Kratos is forewarned about the unending nature of his torment and the potential remorse of serving the gods.
God of War III (2010) – PS3
God of War III follows the vengeful former God of War, as he continues his quest for vengeance against the Olympian gods after allying with the Titans.
The assault on Mount Olympus and Gaia’s betrayal
Kratos, allied with Gaia and the Titans, ascends Mount Olympus to challenge the gods.
During the fierce conflict, he eliminates Poseidon, causing a catastrophic flood. But as they near Zeus, he counters them, leading to Gaia’s betrayal.
After falling into the River Styx and losing his strength, Kratos encounters the spirit of Athena. She arms him with the Blades of Exile and directs him to douse the Flame of Olympus to vanquish Zeus.
His journey through the Underworld involves defeating Hades and freeing trapped souls.
Retribution against the Olympian deities
As he climbs Olympus, Kratos engages and overpowers several gods and Titans.
His victory over Helios plunges Greece into darkness, and defeating Hermes releases a deadly plague. He also battles and overcomes Hercules, his half-brother.
Deceived by Hephaestus, Kratos ventures to Tartarus to retrieve the Omphalos Stone. After conquering Cronos, he returns, only to be attacked by Hephaestus, whom he then kills.
He makes his way through Hera’s Garden and the Labyrinth to save Pandora, whose self-sacrifice is key to extinguishing the Flame of Olympus.
Against all hopes, Pandora sacrifices herself in their final encounter.
The battle with Zeus and Gaia
The conflict between Kratos and Zeus intensifies, with Gaia trying to eliminate both.
The climax occurs inside Gaia’s chest, where he uses the Blade of Olympus to fatally wound Zeus, causing collateral damage to Gaia.
Athena demands the power of hope from the Spartan, acquired from Pandora’s Box. Understanding its significance, Kratos chooses self-sacrifice with the Blade of Olympus, bestowing the power of hope upon humanity.
In a post-credits scene, a blood trail leads from Kratos’s supposed self-sacrifice site, hinting at his potential survival.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (2010) – PSP
In God of War: Ghost of Sparta, a narrative bridge between the first two games, the story follows Kratos’ quest to uncover his origins in ancient Greece.
Troubled by memories, he discovers his mother Callisto in Atlantis, who reveals that his brother Deimos is still alive. This revelation sets him on a path to the Domain of Death to save Deimos, challenging both his past and the gods.
Past revealed and Deimos’ capture
The story unfolds through flashbacks, showing Zeus and Ares’ belief that Deimos, marked by distinctive birthmarks, was the destined warrior prophesied to end Olympus.
Ares abducts Deimos, while Athena rescues Kratos from a similar fate.
Imprisoned and tormented by Thanatos, the God of Death, Deimos’ plight drives Kratos to ink a tattoo mirroring his brother’s birthmark in solidarity.
Voyage to Atlantis and Sparta
In Atlantis, he faces his transformed mother, Callisto, in a tragic battle.
Her last request is for Kratos to locate Deimos in Sparta. His odyssey leads to unleashing the Titan Thera, triggering the eruption of the Methana Volcano and the ruin of Atlantis.
His journey continues to Sparta, where he faces adversaries including Erinys and a rebel loyal to Ares.
Rescuing Deimos and confronting Thanatos
In the Domain of Death, Kratos finally liberates Deimos, who, consumed by anger over his brother’s delayed arrival, initially fights him.
Their skirmish is halted by Thanatos, who abducts Deimos to Suicide Bluffs. Kratos intervenes, saving Deimos, and they join forces against Thanatos.
In the ensuing battle, Thanatos takes Deimos’ life, provoking the Ghost of Sparta to vanquish the God of Death in a fierce confrontation.
Mourning Deimos, Kratos buries him, leaving the Arms of Sparta as a grave marker. He then heads back to Olympus, filled with a renewed resolve for vengeance against the gods for their schemes.
God of War: Ascension (2013) – PS3
God of War: Ascension serves as a prelude to the entire series. It narrates the tale of Kratos, who revolts against Ares after realizing he was deceived into slaying his own family.
This rebellion leads to his confinement and punishment by the Furies, enforcers of oaths and retribution in Greek mythology. With the help of Orkos, the keeper of oaths, Kratos seeks to break free from Ares’ control.
Imprisonment and escape
The narrative begins with Kratos suffering in the clutches of the Furies for betraying Ares.
He endures the torment of Fury Megaera and manages to flee from his prison, which is revealed to be the gigantic Hecatonchires, Aegaeon, punished by the Furies for his own betrayal of Zeus.
Journey to Delphi and Delos
His quest then takes him to the Oracle of Delphi, as directed by Orkos.
He faces numerous challenges, including defeating the twins Castor and Pollux, and is tasked to retrieve the Eyes of Truth from Delos. His perilous journey involves confronting and overcoming the treacherous Furies.
Confrontation with the Furies
In the main storyline, Kratos dispels illusions conjured by the Furies and recaptures the Oath Stone of Orkos.
He discovers the Furies’ corruption due to Ares’ manipulation and ultimately faces the Fury Queen Alecto and her companion Tisiphone. His victory against them leads to the destruction of the Prison of the Damned.
Breaking free from Ares’ bond
The resolution of Kratos’ struggle against the Furies is tinged with sadness.
Orkos discloses that for Kratos to completely sever ties with Ares, he must end Orkos’ life, as he is the bond’s keeper. Kratos, albeit with reluctance, does so, freeing himself from Ares but at the cost of Orkos’ life.
This moment signifies the start of Kratos’ journey towards redemption and his eventual service to the Olympian gods.
God of War (2018) – PS4
God of War for the PS4 signifies a major transformation in its series, transitioning from a Greek to a Norse mythological setting. The game unfolds in ancient Scandinavia, specifically in Midgard, and centers around Kratos, now a father, alongside his son Atreus.
The story begins after the death of Kratos’ second wife, Faye, and follows their quest to scatter her ashes atop the highest peak across the nine realms.
Throughout this journey, Kratos conceals his turbulent past, while Atreus is oblivious to his divine heritage, and they encounter various mythical entities.
Initiation of the Quest
The narrative picks up years after Kratos’ confrontations with the Olympian gods.
An early pivotal moment is Kratos’ battle with a mysterious stranger endowed with divine powers, who is later identified as Baldur, an Æsir god and son of Odin.
This incident propels Kratos and Atreus on their mission to fulfill Faye’s last request.
Adventures in Alfheim and revelations
Their quest is complicated by a dark mist, leading them to the realm of Alfheim to procure a magical light.
They encounter Mímir, the smartest man alive, trapped by Odin for 109 years. He reveals that the true highest peak lies in Jötunheim, inaccessible due to the Giants’ blockade.
Kratos cuts off Mimir’s head at his request and has a witch bring it back to life. Mimir reveals that they can find a way to Jötunheim by speaking to the world serpent, Jörmungandr.
He also informs them that the Witch of the Woods is the goddess Freya.
Encounters with Norse deities
The narrative intensifies as Kratos and Atreus face off against Norse gods such as Modi and Magni.
Atreus grapples with a sickness stemming from his struggle with his identity. A significant turning point occurs when Kratos reclaims his Blades of Chaos, symbolizing his reconnection with his past.
Confrontations and truths
The story reaches its climax with another battle against Baldur. An unintentional act by Atreus nullifies Baldur’s invulnerability, ultimately leading to Baldur’s defeat.
This event unravels the intricate dynamics among Freya, Baldur, and Kratos, and culminates in Freya’s vow to seek revenge on Kratos as Baldur was her son.
Discoveries in Jötunheim
In Jötunheim, they discover a mural depicting their journey, unveiling that Faye was a Giant and Atreus is actually Loki.
This revelation adds layers to Atreus’ character and hints at future narratives. The game concludes with Kratos and Atreus scattering Faye’s ashes, against the backdrop of an impending Ragnarok prophecy.
God of War: Ragnarok (2022) – PS5
God of War: Ragnarok, continuing the Norse mythology saga, picks up three years after the 2018 game. The story traverses all nine realms, including Midgard, now a frigid wasteland due to Fimbulwinter.
Kratos and his teenage son Atreus (Loki) hide in Midgard, preparing for a looming battle.
The game concludes the Norse saga, dealing with the event of Ragnarok, foretold after Kratos killed Baldur.
Returning home and emerging threats
The game commences with Kratos and Atreus making their way back home, where they face imminent dangers from Freya, Odin, and Thor.
This leads them to undertake a quest to locate Týr and gain insights into the prophecy of Ragnarok, which suggests the downfall of Asgard and hints at a pivotal role for Atreus as Loki.
Journey of destiny and deception
As the story progresses, Kratos and Atreus grapple with issues of fate and falsehood.
Atreus uncovers a prophecy foretelling Kratos’ demise during Ragnarok and sets out to avert this fate. Their journey involves confrontations with various gods, including Heimdall, which ultimately trigger the onset of Ragnarok.
Having found and saved the Norse God of War, Týr, Kratos and Atreus discuss plans to bring down Odin. In a dramatic twist, it is revealed that it was Odin, spying on their plans as Týr, and the real god is still missing.
Odin reveals his true self and kills the dwarf Brok in a desperate attempt to escape. This event dents Kratos’ relationship with Brok’s brother Sindri.
The final showdown and new beginnings
The climactic battle features Kratos leading a coalition of realms in a monumental fight against Asgard.
This epic conflict results in the defeat of Odin and Thor and the obliteration of Asgard, executed by Surtr.
The narrative wraps up with Atreus embarking on a quest to find any remaining Giants, while Kratos steps into a newfound role as a deity of peace and justice, signifying a turn towards a hopeful future.