The God of War video game franchise has been a mainstay in gaming circles for decades, playing on themes of ancient mythology. Here, we will look at the ways in which Greek mythology is utilized in the franchise.
God of War and Greek mythology
Though God of War takes inspiration from Greek mythology, it is loosely based on the characters, tales, and themes from these myths, drawing out the essence in order to create unique and immersive narratives.
Over the years, Greek mythology has also served as inspiration for a wide range of media, from book series like the Percy Jackson franchise, to TV series like Xena: Warrior Princess, the Disney movie Hercules, and even online slot games – particularly the Age of the Gods slot game series, featuring games like Helios, God of Storms, King of Olympus, Ruler of the Seas, Medusa & Monsters, and more, which feature a slew of Greek gods and mythical creatures all ready to do battle.
With the God of War franchise, this is no different. Using the themes of Greek mythology, the series spawned several games over the past couple of decades – God of War (2005), God of War II (2007), God of War: Betrayal (2007), God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008), God of War III (2010), God of War: Ghosts of Sparta (2010), God of War Ascension (2013), as well as many collections and remastered re-releases.
The gameplay is centered around Kratos, a Spartan soldier who has spent a decade serving the Olympian gods. Athena, goddess of wisdom and warfare, asks Kratos to open Pandora’s box to defeat Ares, the god of war, and protect Athens. After, Kratos goes on a series of adventures through the series of games, meeting characters like Zeus, Gaia, Ceryx son of Hermes, Pandora,Thanatos, Orkos, and the three Furies.
The newer God of War games use Norse mythology
From the eighth installment in the God of War franchise onwards – known simply as God of War (2018) – the series strays away from Greek mythology and takes its inspiration loosely from Norse mythology, instead, taking the franchise in an entirely fresh direction, and marking the beginning of its second era.
After the events of the first era, Kratos finds himself transported into ancient Norway, to the realm of Midgard. After suffering a great loss, Kratos must seek to realize a loved one’s final wish by reaching the highest peak of the nine realms, located in Jötunheim – a land in Norse mythology where the relatives of the gods reside. Along the journey, Kratos must survive foes like Baldur, and the Fimbulvetr, which signals the beginning of the great battle of Ragnarök.
The most recent game in the God of War franchise is God of War: Ragnarök, released in November 2022, and follows Kratos as he and his allies are confronted by Odin and Thor and attempt to protect the realms.
Amazon Prime Video have confirmed that a live-action series based on the video games is currently in the works, co-produced by Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios, in association with PlayStation Productions. Interestingly, the showrunners have chosen to adapt the Norse mythology setting as the basis for the TV adaptation, and teasers suggest it closely follows the narrative of the second era’s gameplay. The cast is yet to be released, with many hoping Kratos will be brought to life by acting giants like Jason Momoa or Pedro Pascal.