The profound evolution of “Dad of War”


Evolution is such a subjective word these days.

In a prime example, bands Paramore and Linkin Park have stirred chaos with their latest albums, After Laughter and One More Light, respectively, which had nothing to do with rock or nu-metal sounds. The new sounds have divided fans like the Red Sea. One side are on denial of the change, and the other side of fandom, the ones who love the band as they are and not for their sound, have defended this as “mature” and an “evolution.” It’s funny how these things were considered “mature” but that’s a different matter. But, as an evolution, that’s a little tricky. When you say “evolution” it’s supposed to mean they have transformed into something better, picking up old set pieces that worked and amplifying it with something newer that would turn it to gold.

Evolution is, when Agumon turns into Greymon to MetalGreymon and then WarGreymon. It’s the same procedure for Charmander reaching its final stages as Charizard, with a Mega Form as an epic encore. 

Then again, the tyrannosaurus rex is believed to be the ancient form of a chicken, and has evolved into humans’ happy meals in order to accommodate its own shrinking food supplies. Evolution is an adaptation to the environment, and if we look at it this way, no one can deny the commercial success of pop music, and so does that mean both Paramore and Linkin Park are… sellouts?

In any regard, the newest God of War happens to be the videogame equivalent of Paramore and Linkin Park, because the change of style and gameplay has been so drastic, it’s cleaving people from head to groin. 

When God of War was first released in 2005, it was the height of fast-paced and aggressive hack-and-slash trend jettisoned by Devil May Cry in 2001. It was gritty and violent. It gave you a simple story, Kratos, the game’s anti-hero, is pissed at the god of war, Ares, and so sets out for revenge. Instead of wild exploration – and exploration, we mean backtracking ten billion times like in DMC – God of War gave you puzzles, which served as breathers between the carnage sessions. It gave you amazing sceneries and epic moments delivered through Quick Time Events. I will always remember in God of War II where you had to swing between a series crumbling pillars. Try swinging through that Nathan Drake! 

In short, it was a violent action game done right. But the times have changed. Devil May Cry is nothing more today than a distant echo of the past just like all the classics we yearn to return some day. And God of War: Ascension had been a valiant effort to keep on milking the franchise, but after six games of encountering the same exact gameplay with the same exact length with some whatever excuse to strip Kratos off his powers and equipment, things do get stale a little. The game has an 80% Metacritic score, the lowest ever in the franchise, despite having being a really cool game that basically did everything what the first five games did.

Developers needed to consider other options. Today that seems to be two things: Combat and exploration. The latest trend that many developers love copying is Dark Souls, first released in 2011. And every since that game blew way out of its head, tiny shreds of Dark Souls DNA has been scattered throughout various games: Nioh, Lords of the Fallen, Salt and Sanctuary, and even The Legend of Zelda: Breathe of the Wild are primary examples.

As seen in the trailers the new God of War has a different combat mechanic. Instead of an angled top-down view, we get a full 360-degree camera controlled view. We see Kratos having his axe ready in one arm and a raised shield in the other. This lets us know combat mechanics will cater some similarities to Dark Souls, in a more, thread carefully approach. And yet, we see in the same trailer how Kratos takes on multiple enemies, swinging his axe like a rabid mountain man and doing cool stuff with it. What does this mean? We’re playing the same aggressive hack-and-slash game, only with actually new weapons with new tricks that encourage a more tactical approach. It’s old school God of War with the addition of newer, cooler stuff to turn it gold. Or at least, hopes to turn it gold.

In 2005 God of War was deemed mature because of its high-level of violence, gore, and the mini-game that required you to knock a vase off the table. Today, the new game is being considered mature for its sophistication and dad elements, where Kratos now looks after a young boy. Kratos now stands among the “Sad Dads,” next to Joel, Booker, and Logan. And there’s usually one way how the dad makes it out in the end.

But it’s so much more than that. The possible tactical approach in combat is the developers telling everyone how the games have gone “mature” and how it has evolved in the times today after six games since all the way from 2005. Let’s also chuck in that scene in the trailer, where the World Serpent appears, and Kratos, instead of going full berserk mode, asks, “What is it saying?” Kratos has aged and has gained wisdom, learning to speak first before cracking skulls. Well, maybe not exactly, we’ll find out next year.

It has also confirmed that the controversial mini-games—you know, the ones where you need to topple a vase, make a peeing statue pee harder, and, well, bang a goddess of sex—will not return to the game. The developers are letting people know that this game is no longer a game for bros who are into bloody action and boobs, especially with the height of gender roles in games, films, and in the community, are being scrutinized and criticized. If you want to check out boobs, there’s Google for that, and if you want the same bloody action again, there are six other God of War games out there.

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