One of the defining feature of the God of War series was its strong use of Greek mythology. As God of War 4 comes out today, fans will notice Sony Santa-Monica have breathed new life into the series. They have done this through the transition from Greek to Norse mythology. While Norse mythology is particularly popular today, as Marvel’s Thor highlights, there are many other mythological pantheons that could use a visit from Kratos. Here are five of the best.
While at face value, the Roman pantheon is essentially the Greek gods with new names, this ignores the historical nuances between the two societies. Part of the God of War series’ appeal isn’t just its use of Greek and now Norse mythology, but the use of setting. The Ghost of Sparta wasn’t just a cool nickname for Kratos, but a monicker seeped in history. Kratos led Sparta in battle, fought and invaded Greek cities, and faced an animated Colossus of Rhodes.
This leads to Roman mythology. Historically, Roman leaders were famous for attaching themselves to their gods. The most important example, for the sake of Kratos’ story, is Rome’s first Emperor, Augustus Caesar, who claimed he was Mars Ultor, the God of War. Furthermore, the similarities between Greek and Roman myths would allow for some great crossover. Kratos would fit in perfectly into Virgil’s Aeneid, which follows the Greek myth of the Trojan war, but from a Roman perspective. The Ghost of Sparta could act as a revenant for the lost and conquered Greek society, seeking vengeance against Rome.
One of the most famous ancient pantheons is that of Ancient Egypt. Gods like Isis, Anubis, Ra and Osiris are not only well documented, but insanely popular in the media. Films like The Mummy franchise have romanticised the ancient Egyptian culture and most recently Assassin’s Creed Origins allowed players to battle these gods in the Trial of the Gods DLC. Furthermore, where God of War 4 has taken Kratos out of Greece and into Scandinavia, Kratos would explore Ancient Egypt. Players would have the same dungeon-crawling action filled experience. This time instead of hunting down Pandora’s Box on Kronos’ back, players would be hunting down Pharoah tombs in Pyramids. God of War 4 even makes repeated mention of Egypt, with a Pharoah’s crown appearing in Tyr’s vault.
While Kratos is much more foreign in the world of the Aztecs compared to other ancient worlds, the Aztec gods are too great a fit to ignore. From a gameplay perspective, the boss battles would rival some of the best of the series. Kratos, as the god hunting badass he is, could easily hunt down the four ruler gods of the North, South, East and West. The most interesting aspect of this is that the Aztec gods were often depicted as beasts. This means Kratos on a god killing path would resemble something like Shadow of the Colossus.
Tezcatlipoca, god of providence, the darkness and the invisible, lord of the night, ruler of the North was often depicted as a jaguar. Xipe-Totec, god of force, lord of the seasons and rebirth, ruler of the East, was depicted as a horrid god who flayed his own skin and was believed to have created war itself. Quetzalcoatl, god of the life, the light and wisdom, lord of the winds and the day, ruler of the West, was seen as a huge and majestic thunderbird, famously appearing in Final Fantasy VIII as a summon. Lastly there was Huitzilopochtli, lord of the sun and fire, ruler of the South and most importantly, the god of war. Kratos’ motivation for hunting down these gods is simple. All of these gods were worshiped through human sacrifice, something that other cultures found criminal. Despite his hard exterior, God of War 3 shows that Kratos does what is best for mankind, not the gods.
It is often forgotten, but the monotheistic religions are filled with mythological beasts and superhuman characters. While there is crucially one God, this wasn’t ever a criteria for Kratos’ warpath. God of War 4 introduces the Leviathan as a key character. However, this is beast of Hebrew mythology, detailed in the Book of Job. On top of the Sea monster, players could combat the land beast, Behemoth, and air beast, Ziz. These mythological creatures are not only perfect for God of War, as the World Serpent in God of War 4 shows, but also unused in popular culture.
The monotheistic religions also provide a rich and detailed account of their ancient world. Kratos is very familiar with the David v Goliath boss battle, so why not test his abilities against the giant. The God of War aesthetic lends itself to awe-inspiring set-pieces like the Tower of Babel. Cataclysmic events like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah are on par with the sinking of Atlantis and destruction of Olympus. Even more well know tales like Moses’ Exodus have plagues, death and an epic scale worthy of the God of War branding. This forgotten part of mythology needs a resurgence.
It seems that popular culture, especially video games, ignores some of the greatest stories of Christianity for fear of controversy. However, since Far Cry 5 took Christian fundamentalism to its most extreme, its pretty safe. Like Jewish mythology, there is no pantheon of gods, just the One. However, Christian mythology, in particular Catholism, is filled with the heroic deeds of supernatural people. One of the best aspects of Christian mythology is how much later it is in time. These aren’t stories of ancient Greek soldiers in bronze armour, but chivalrous knights in steel plate.
Tales like St. George fighting and slaying a dragon, or King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail fit with ladies in lakes and swords in stones have the same epic scale of the God of War games. It would even appear that God of War already has borrowed from these stories, with God of War 3 being a twisted version of Jesus’ story interwoven with Paradise Lost. A sleeper hit of 2010 was Viseral Games’ Dante’s Inferno, which had a combat system heavily influence by God of War. Dante’s Inferno feels like a prototype for this potentially amazing God of War game. However, Kratos could instead fight Angels, like gamers saw in the Bayonetta series. With seven Archangels, Michael and Gabriel being the most famous, acting as seven bosses, a Christian influenced game would play out like a medieval God of War. So why not just make a Christian God of War game.