Welcome to the first part of our epic review of God of War: Ascension, covering the single player aspect of the game.
I sometimes wonder how much successive game producers on the God of War series have come to despise the decisions made by their predecessors. Each console game has had an ending that has restricted what could come after it.
The first God of War
ended with Kratos a god, the future mapped out with him staying on Olympus forever. The second got round this fact by ignoring it and stripping him of his powers, but it ended with Kratos leading an assault on Olympus by the Titans. The third carried on from this point, but dropped Kratos into Hades, stripping him of his powers and finished with him having killed all of the gods and apparently dying himself.
These dead ends (pardon the pun) in the overall story meant that the PSP games Chains of Olympus
and Ghost of Sparta
had to fill in gaps between the story as told in the PS2 games. Chains
was set before the first game and Ghost
was set just after. In a similar way, we now have God of War: Ascension
which is set before even Chains
All of this prequel game stuff is down to the decision made during the planning of GoWII
to have the story be about bringing the Titans back for an assault on Olympus.
That attack would inevitably lead to either the death of the gods, or the death of Kratos, making further stories a bit difficult either way. Hence the other games squeezing into the gaps before the second main game.
All of this bouncing around through Kratos' life makes for a bit of a disappointing narrative. Each game is good in and of itself, but the whole is a bit less than it could be. If, for example, each game had Kratos building up his strength in order to take on one god at the end of the game, we could have a much more fulfilling and epic storyline without all of the backtracking and filling in.
However, that is not to be and so Ascension
picks up Kratos' story soon after he was tricked into killing his wife and daughter. The story concerns the repercussions of Kratos breaking his blood oath to Ares because of that event.
We are told in the prologue about the Furies, three sisters born at the dawn of time who enforce all blood oaths to the gods by pursuing, capturing and torturing the oath breakers.
It is in their captivity that we find Kratos at the start of the game, bound in chains and being tortured by one of the Furies, Megaera, who inadvertently breaks some of the chains binding Kratos, allowing him to escape.
There then follows another quest by Kratos to obtain the mystical artifacts he needs to defeat his antagonists. Some of the story is told in the "present", following on from Kratos' escape and some in the past, leading up to his capture.
That's right, in this one game, we get the same sort of narrative structure that the series as a whole has been burdened with.