I had forgotten how excruciatingly boring the first1 bossfight is in GoW. I had also forgotten how inanely stupid the dialogue is.

Here’s a dude, knocking on a door, not telling the person who opens what he wants. He’s just acting all annoying, and to be entirely honest – very male – by posturing and provoking. I have to assume this means something to another guy, but to me, this makes about zero sense especially since he keeps repeating “If you’d only told med what I wanted to know, we could have skipped this” but he never did, and honestly even if he did, I as a player have no say in Kratos’ actions, which is one of the reasons I don’t like this game. But let’s get back to the boring bossfight.

It doesn’t matter what I do as Kratos, because the annoying man with the dirty skin and bad attitude will keep coming until Kratos has sufficiently kicked his ass and I think there has to be a better way to fight bosses thatn this? It keeps popping up, the lack of variety, the boss stages, the “telling a story through combat” which is never really the telling of a story, it’s just “stay alove through the annoyance until you’re allowed to proceed with the actual game”.

Every damned time. What is that about, seriously? Is it just the way things are supposed to be, or what?

I think the added annoyance here is that the dude keeps coming, and he keeps telling Kratos “if you had only” but he’s totally gaslightling. He never said. It pisses me off because in that moment I would have wanted to choose. Contrary to Kratos, the emotionally stunted lump of meat, I would never have chosen combat. But maybe that’s why I don’t get to choose.

The problem, then, becomes that because I have no interest whatsoever to identify with Kratos, this becomes yet another barrier between me and the player character. I am supposed to play this for 40 – 60 hours?

God of War isn’t the only game that does this, which is why I rarely play games where I don’t at least have the appearance of a choice. Even the appearance of a choice is important to me as a player. I know full well that it doesn’t really matter what choices I make – the end result of the game will be the same. But the potential to determine my own destiny is important, at least to me.

An example of this same problem as appears in God of Waar also surfaces in one of my former favorite games, Mass Effect 3. There is a boss fight on the planet Thessia that – for narrative purposes – Shepard is required to lose. In the same way that the God of War bossfight dictates that Kratos can’t hurt Balder2 the bossfight between Shepard and Kai Leng dictates that Kai Leng gets away with the Catalyst, a thing needed to defeat the Reapers.

In both of these bossfights there isn’t even the appearance of choice. All I get to do is fight until a certain point and after that I take the victory (or defeat) in whatever way the game has decided I am and then on to the next passage or chapter.

In Mass Effect, this is even more jarring than in God of War, because Mass Effect, up until that moment, has at least given me the illusion of having a choice. God of War is a story on rails, where I have no options at all. I go where the game wants me to go and do what it wants me to do. I can’t even choose if Kratos wants to hug Atreus or put his hand on his son’s shoulder. Someone else made that decision for me.

I’m not sure if I would call God of War particularly interactive. It gives me very few choices. Instead I would probably call it a puzzle. Figure out how to beat the enemies, move to the next arena, figure out how to beat the enemies, move to the next arena. I honestly can’t tell what the fuss is about. Most likely because I’m not very interested in Kratos’ emotional development. He’s a boring brute. The combat may be balanced, but it is also quite bording and Atreus’ barks are driving me nuts.

I’m assuming it’s one of those “you need to be a man to get it” games, but I’m tired of those. The Balder bossfight is boring. The reason it’s boring is because I have no choice.

  1. Well, second, really. The troll comes first and just before the “first” bossfight which means that the pacing feels mildly off. I might get back to that later.
  2. I have so many issues with the liberties Santa Monica Stuio has taken with the Nordic myths and religions, don’t get me started.