Back in 2005, a brilliant hack ‘n slash game called God of War made its debut on the PlayStation 2. Following Kratos, a bloodthirsty Spartan soldier hellbent on taking down every enemy soldier he could get his hands on, the game saw multiple sequels and quickly became one of the landmark franchises for Sony. As both a tour through Greek mythology and a no holds barred journey of ultra-violence, God of War has persisted where other major franchises have fallen off.
"Today, we're taking a quick look back at all the God of War games as we examine this prolific series and how it has maintained success over the past decade and a half."
Now, 15 years later, God of War is still going strong. Some might even say that the most recent releases, God of War (2018) and God of War Ragnarok surpass their predecessors. Whether you’re a fan of the older games, prefer the newer ones, or have yet to experience Kratos’ story, it’s hard to deny the overwhelming popularity of this epic franchise. Today, we’re taking a quick look back at all the God of War games as we examine this prolific series and how it has maintained success over the past decade and a half.
An Epic Tale of Revenge
The first God of War title was released in 2005 and started the story of Kratos, a protagonist who would go on to become one of the most iconic in all of gaming. Led by creative director David Jaffe, this excellent action game started Kratos’ story with a bang and followed his attempt to kill Ares, the Greek god of war. After a stunning success with both fans and critics, God of War II would release two years later in 2007, continuing our anti-hero’s quest for vengeance through the wild world of Greek mythology. While the story would reach its conclusion in 2010’s God of War III, the story of Kratos was far from over.
While most of Kratos’ adventures were released on home consoles, there was a fair share of spin-offs and prequels released on handheld devices. For these three smaller adventures, Sony Santa Monica handed the reins to developer Javaground, who worked in partnership with Sony Online Entertainment Los Angeles to bring Kratos to smaller screens.
The first spin-off was God of War: Betrayal, a 2D sidescroller and mobile-only game released in 2007 that takes place between the events of the original game and God of War II. God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta were both excellent prequels in their own right and managed to bring the epic action of the series to the PlayStation Portable. Later, in 2013, a new spin-off dubbed God of War: Ascension was released on PlayStation 3, but it failed to live up to expectations, leading to a five-year hiatus for the franchise.
Kratos Goes to Midgard
After the lackluster performance of God of War: Ascension, many fans assumed that the franchise was dead, with very little room to expand on the nearly perfect story told in the original trilogy. Enter God of War (2018), a PlayStation 4 title developed by Sony Santa Monica and led by Cory Barlog, one of the creative directors who had been with the franchise since God of War II. Throwing a massive curveball at the audience, this third-person adventure offered a new combat system, RPG-style leveling and gear acquisition, and most importantly, a brand new world of mythology to explore. Now joined by his young son Atreus, God of War (2018) sees Kratos exploring the many realms of Norse mythology. God of War (2018) was received extremely well by fans, garnering numerous Game of the Year awards and other hefty accolades.
Most recently, Kratos can be found dismembering monsters and upgrading his gear in God of War Ragnarok, the sequel to God of War (2018) and arguably the most anticipated game of 2022. In this stunning sequel, Kratos and Atreus must deal with the inevitable arrival of Ragnarok, an event of prophecy said to result in the end of all existence. While God of War (2018) is a hard game to top, Ragnarok seems to be holding its own, offering more varied combat, tons of epic boss encounters, and an extended cast of characters.
Simply put, the God of War franchise has been entertaining fans with its bloody action and awe-inspiring visuals for over a decade, a feat that many franchises fail to accomplish. With only one mediocre game in the entire series (and even that’s up for debate), you’d be hard-pressed to find a franchise more solid than God of War. Best of all, every game holds up today, so fans who have yet to dive into the twisted world of Kratos should put this series on their shortlist of games to play. Here’s to hoping that God of War continues to innovate and stays relevant for another 15 years, because as long as the games keep coming, we’ll keep playing them.