God of War might not mesh with your concept of ‘having a strong narrative’. Understandably so. While the first game had what could ostensibly be called a plot with proper character motivation and backstory. By the end of the trilogy it feels as though heaven and earth were being moved to get our protagonist Kratos in the same room as a god he could kill.
If you’ve not played the aged trilogy let me explain the plot succinctly. A mortal Spartan named Kratos is about to be killed on the battlefield when he offers an oath of servitude for Ares for the opportunity to survive and see his family again. Ares grants him this wish, gives him the ability to be essentially a one man army and sears to chain-swords to his wrists. Ares has Kratos conquer most of Greece, eventually coming upon a village with a small temple to Athena, Ares’ sister. Ares is a notably petty little shit and as such he makes Kratos kill all of them, two of them revealed later to be his wife and child.
An interesting side note is that this is quite similar to what Hera makes Herakles do in his myth, just with an incredibly different outcome. The oracle reveals herself and cremates the bodies eventually after discussing what happened she curses Kratos and mystically bonds the ashes of his loved ones to his body which is why he is so pale.
Finally Kratos kills all of the Olmypic pantheon save for a few minor gods who don’t make appearances. In total Kratos kills 23 notable figures in Greek myth and countless non-notable. Among them are Theseus, Herakles, Cronos, Persephone, Charon, etc.
So the main point here is that there wasn’t much of a story. However, there is one incredibly fascinating element of visual storytelling that begins in the third game. The game’s introductory and tutorial boss is Poseidon. If you know a tiny bit about Greek myth (or read Percy Jackson) you should know that he rules over the sea, among other various things.
When Kratos kills him his body falls from Olympus and plunges into the water with notably small effect, as if you were dropping a sewing needle into the ocean. The game holds on this beat for a few, small seconds, and finally the entire ocean begins to rise up swallowing cities and creating mountains that only just barely peak out of it. From the look of it, every city that could be seen in the introduction is now hundreds of feet underwater. This happens with every other god as well, killing Hades unleashes the souls of the dead, Helios’ death is followed by permanent night, etc.
So why is this so interesting? In the new God of War titled just as that, Kratos is not where we’re used to seeing him. The game shows us that he is in a snowy mountainside with his son. This is strange for a few reasons, the only place shown to have snow in the God of War games is now expressly gone (the mountain Prometheus was tortured upon). The other is that Kratos had a daughter but he killed her. Another oddity is that his skin is back to its original hue.
So fine, it’s a reboot then. Happens all the time.
Except it isn’t. Kratos is shown happening upon a massive cache of treasures when he finds an urn depicting his original experience and he scoffs, lamenting his youth as foolhardy. His son tells him that they, together, must kill a god and Kratos sits him down and warns him of the consequences. If the Kratos I’m describing sounds not al all reminiscent of the first, that’s because he isn’t.
While he is still bald, mad and huge, he is also caring, considerate of his son and struggling to be a father. n one fell swoop God of War has no story, to containing a full spiraling tale about a man who was so angry he ruined an entire word, but now has a second chance. It seems We’re done with the story of the Hulk and have moved on to Bruce Banner.