It’s no secret why the God of War series is consistently amidst the debate in regard to violence and gore in video games. Kratos has given us some of the most epic, entertaining, and memorable boss fights in gaming’s long and celebrated history. They’ve never been without their share of bloodshed and brutality however, and some of gaming’s most renowned developers and designers have spoken out against the oversaturation of violence within the industry. David Hewitt, game designer for God of War: Ascension told IGN that while the carnage customary to the franchise will still be present in the newest installment, it’ll be toned down a bit as the game will more thoroughly explore Kratos as a human being.
“Kratos is really struggling with his demons here, he’ll go through some seriously heavy events,” said Hewitt. “He gets beaten up over the course of the story, he’s more vulnerable with some of the enemies than he was in the past.”
The story behind God of War: Ascension will be an origin tale of sorts, as the events of the game will take place six months after Kratos accidentally murdered his wife and child. From that point, Kratos’ quest for vengeance against Ares and the gods of Olympus begins. Hewitt noted that though the God of War series is characterized by over-the-top violence and gore, it is not without purpose, saying that Kratos’ motivation for revenge naturally manifests itself in brutal means.
“The core of the God of War series is Greek mythology, and that’s blood and guts, vengeful gods, horrific things being enacted on mortals. What we’re doing is injecting a character into that and telling a story of revenge,” he said. “Kratos has been through this before. He was tricked into killing his wife and family. He’s literally covered in their ashes during every moment. His motivation is violent, bloody revenge, and the milieu of mythology puts us in this distant, exaggerated world. We do revel in it somewhat but the violence is there to show Kratos dealing with his demons and enacting that revenge in a very physical, hands-on way.”
In terms of how the violence has been toned down for God of War: Ascension, Hewitt stated that any elements of misogyny have been refined:
“There are some things we’ve pulled back from. I think where this has been an issue is with violence against women — the team’s pulled back from some of that and assessed that a little more carefully. There are certain things that carry has a different kind of resonance that we don’t want to get into. This isn’t about statement-making in that regard. It’s about fleshing out this character.”