This text comprises spoilers for, nicely, just about the entire God of Battle sequence.
All through the journey in God of Battle (2018), Kratos and Atreus maintain on to the reminiscence and literal ashes of a beloved one. Her dying want to be scattered on the highest peak propels them by means of the realms of Norse delusion, confronting and defeating gods and monsters. The plot of God of Battle, like windsurfing, is pushed by holding on. Whereas taking part in, you are feeling this, like ropes round your wrists, dictating your given route. True North within the form of a cage.
The sequel, God of Battle Ragnarök, nonetheless, is about severing these ropes — or, fairly, letting them fall. The issues that characters held on to, we notice, have been prisons, not protections. Whereas letting go can really feel like falling, the characters quickly notice they want that launch as a result of in that launch is the liberty they’ve been craving. It’s not merely Kratos and Atreus who, collectively and individually, undergo from the plague of “holding on.” Each main character does — and their lives are worse for it after they refuse to let go.
This virtually symmetrical distinction to me is why Ragnarök felt like a agency finale and correct send-off of Kratos’ Norse adventures.
Kratos and Atreus
In God of Battle (2018), Kratos and Atreus maintain on to a bag containing the ashes of Laufey, Kratos’ spouse and Atreus’ mom. The easy purpose of “scatter me from the very best peak” modifications all of the Norse realms, as Kratos and Atreus turn into targets of Odin however evade seize. All through their trials, they maintain on to the purpose, regardless of its rising futility and problem.
Kratos’ recommendation to his son is to behave extra like a soldier, telling Atreus to “shut your coronary heart” to the struggling he sees from others. (It’s no coincidence that the identify “Atreus” comes from a courageous Spartan soldier Kratos deeply revered, and he instructions the boy as a soldier’s basic.) Kratos’ coronary heart has been closed because the gods betrayed him, opening up solely briefly when he lastly noticed his daughter within the afterlife, in Chains of Olympus.
Rage isn’t merely what Kratos hangs on to however is actually a mechanic that permits him to turn into briefly invincible and highly effective throughout fight. Holding on to this rage has allowed Kratos to defeat whole pantheons of gods. It dictates the way in which he speaks, his typically muted actions, and his distance from his latest little one (Atreus). Kratos is a sufferer who refuses to take care of the extent of his trauma, crushing it right into a hardened rock of rage he shops deep inside.
Ragnarök, nonetheless, sees Kratos’ icy resolve considerably soften regardless of an apocalyptic winter setting in. Not solely does he acknowledge that his son’s energy is drawn immediately from Atreus’ compassion for others, however he additionally acknowledges the necessity to let Atreus go — each for brief bouts of particular person exploration, the place Atreus turns into for the primary time a playable character, and, on the finish, the place the younger man ventures into the world by himself. Atreus’ compassion isn’t folly however high quality: his understanding extends not solely to what numerous creatures are saying but additionally to how they’re feeling. This proves useful all through their journey, undermining Kratos’ view that closing your coronary heart to others advantages the mission.
Seeing this in his son, we’re introduced years later in Ragnarök with a Kratos who says thanks, incessantly shows affection to this son, and is keen to assist these in want. For me, I spotted how far Kratos had are available his interplay with Freya.
Freya Picture: Sony
Like Kratos, within the first sport, Freya was fully pushed by “holding on”: she held on to a maternity woven by deception and selfishness, a poisoned bond as a result of it spouted from the fruits of a poisoned household tree.
In God of Battle (2018), the raging menace, Baldur, seems to be her son. He holds nothing however hatred for Freya since she solid a spell when he was younger that prevented him from ever feeling ache or getting harm — however it additionally means he feels nothing in any respect. Because of this, Baldur all the time felt lower off from the world, remoted regardless of wandering freely, imprisoned regardless of his Dionysian methods. Simply as Freya nurtured a ghost of a maternal bond, Baldur nurtured a revenge that involves full poisoned bloom by the top of the sport.
Kratos, refusing to look at one other godly cycle of “children-killing-parents,” stops Baldur, killing him, regardless of Freya submitting to her son’s deadly response. Freya swears revenge.
Ragnarök begins with Freya’s revenge, the continuation of her refusing to let go: that which was as soon as a dream of motherhood is now however a ghost. We uncover that within the years because the finish of the primary sport, Freya has been pursuing Kratos and Atreus, craving for Kratos’ dying. Nonetheless, regardless of being viciously attacked, Kratos — our new, advanced Kratos — refuses to kill and is making an attempt all he can to not harm her. He won’t give in. His rage won’t be stoked by somebody who he cares for.
This exhibits us a fact: the one who refuses to let go is the one who suffers.
Finally, Freya does let go. She acknowledges the error of her methods, the folly of the ghost. She turns into Kratos’ new companion, they usually forge a brand new, stronger relationship — specifically, by the top sport, the place each are united in having let go of their sons.
Sindri Picture: Sony
Brok and Sindri
Once we first meet the Haldur brothers, they’re separated. A wall is maintained between them, sustained by each holding on to a feud. By the top of the sport, they launch that feud and are available collectively. However even from the primary sport, what made each of them two of the healthiest characters was how they incessantly let go of their issues: their work, whereas they have been happy with it, was all the time for others. The Leviathan Axe, Mjolnir, upgrades, objects — all of those are bestowed on others.
Ragnarök is, in fact, tragic as a result of Sindri has been giving freely a lot. He himself talks about how he has given his dwelling, his life, his work. And at last, he gave away his brother. They have been fused collectively within the first sport, however, as is the theme with Ragnarök, by the top, Sindri needed to let go. There’s a cause the funeral scene all the time brings tears, apart from Bear McCreary’s most lovely piece serving as background.
However, compared to all of the others, just one individual’s obsessive craving to carry on to information, to seek out extra issues to carry on to, brings concerning the finish of the world: Odin. If obsession is the mindset of holding on to one thing, Odin is nothing however an obsessive. Every thing takes a backseat to his craving: his household, his lands, his realms. It’s no shock then that, in contrast to Kratos, Atreus, Frey, and Sindri — all of whom be taught to let go, nonetheless reluctantly — it’s Odin who dies. It’s Odin who kills Thor, not Kratos.
Certainly, if ever there was a second of recognizing that Kratos has turn into a greater man, it’s his refusal to kill Thor regardless of defeating him. It’s, in fact, considerably ironic that Odin kills his personal little one when it was the cycle of youngsters killing their mother and father that Kratos needed to cease. In a way, Kratos received his want.
Odin dies by the fingers of those that let go as a result of he won’t ever be one in every of them.
The phrase “ragnarok” has been translated to imply “doom of the gods” but additionally “destiny of the gods.” That’s, the results of gods’ actions. It’s becoming, then, that those that survive, those that thrive, are those that acknowledge the impact of their actions. Those that are keen to “let go” of the poison they thought they wanted to proceed.
God of Battle and its sequel inform a robust, lovely story. Viewing it by means of this lens — of the primary sport about tight grip and its sequel, an opened hand — helped me see this world in a brand new gentle.