I’ve reached the lake in Midgard in God of War now, and I’m investigating the nooks and crannies of the lake while trying to keep my temper around Kratos. It is proving harder than I thought it would. Atreus is trying to be helpful while Kratos is totally self serving and egotistical.

Does Kratos want to help Brok? No, he does not. He’s rude and selfish. Does Kratos want to help the trapped spirits? No he does not. He’s rude and selfish. Does Kratos want to help the restless spirit whose family member was killed by Thor? No, he does not. He’s rude and selfish.

I’m assuming you are seeing a pattern here?

I’m not enjoying this to any kind of degree. The commentary I get around Kratos is that he’s on some kind of emotional journey, but so far the only emotions I’ve read off of the dude are antagonism, anger, and impatience. He’s not exactly giving me a choice either. I get to inhabit this rude and selfish lump of overgrown muscles whether I want to or no and there is no other option.

The miniscule freedom I have is related to where I go on the map, which skills I unlock, and which combos to use when fighting. For all other aspects of the game – narrative, dialogue, character development – I’m locked in on one path.

In TTRPG terms we call this railroading. This means that the person who wrote the adventire or who does the GMing isn’t really interested in letting the players themselves choose anything. Their purpose is telling their story, interactivity be damned.

As a UX designer and as a former game designer, I at least want to give my players the illusion of choice, but God of War doesn’t even give me that.

I’m stuck on one track. There’s no deviation. All I can do is move forward and inhabit an asshole that I can’t really identify with. There’s always this jarring disconnect whenever Kratos opens his mouth, bringing me out of whatever shallow level of identification I’ve attained since he last spoke.

The worst part of it is that it keeps up the logic gaps as well. Just as in the first bossfight with Balder, Kratos will still help all those people and spirits he said were a waste of space, because that’s how the player acquires side missions and favors. So Kratos whines about not wanting to help people while he’s helping people.

To me it doesn’t make sense. It’s a mess. The creators obviously wanted to tell a very specific story, but because of that, they also sacrifice what’s fun about games – the choice or illusion of choice we have when playing.

God of War would have been better as a movie, except it wouldn’t have made a very good movie either. I have to say that whatever it is that’s supposedly so good about GoW still eludes me. I’m the wrong audience for this supposed Masterpiece of a “game”. Even The Witcher 3 didn’t turn me off this frequently or this badly.