Witness this! The new critically acclaimed God of War game is out today. Taking place years after the events of God of War III, the once angry demigod Kratos has now retired to the northern realms of Midgard (Scandinavia to us mortals) and lives in peace with his wife and son. Fans of the franchise will know how unusual that phrase is, considering Kratos is known for being a rather one dimensional character who was really good at killing, well-everything. That’s all different now though as the game reboots not only the gameplay, but the narrative structure and emphasis on storytelling. Part of the change actually comes thanks to cinema and specifically, the work of renowned director George Miller.
George Miller is the mastermind behind the Mad Max films. The last film in the franchise, Fury Road, ended up receiving ten Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Before that film came out though, Miller was dabbling with the video game genre, specifically trying to make a Road Warrior video game with Cory Barlog. Barlog is the game director of God of War and left Sony Santa Monica, the studio behind the franchise, in 2008 to pursuit the project with Miller.
Unfortunately, the collaboration between the two never got off the ground and the Mad Max game eventually found a home at Avalanche, where it was released not long after Fury Road. But Barlog stated in the weeks leading up to God of War’s release that the experience of working with the famed director was not wasted. In fact, some of what he learned with Miller actually was applied in the making of Kratos’ new adventure.
If you’ve been following the God of War franchise, you’ll know that narrative and drama weren’t exactly it’s strong suit. Kratos was best known for yelling angry lines at the Greek pantheon and causing bloody mayhem. With the new game, the same old wasn’t going to cut it and the new direction and tone came courtesy of Miller’s notes, who guided Barlog on how to create drama and narrative.
Mad Max is a series that might not strike you as being narrative heavy, but you’d be mistaken. The limited dialogue forces the filmmakers to use visual story telling to compel the audience to care about what’s happening. Miller’s guidance helped Barlog work on how to understand drama and how conflict ties directly the plot and the characterization. It didn’t end with storytelling telling notes though. While none of the mechanics or ideas from the canned Mad Max game made it to God of War, Barlog took notes from Miller’s previous work. Specifically, Mad Max follows an isolated stranger on a road trip journey with a group of desperate people operating in a hostile world. Barlog expanded on this idea of developing bonds on the road and used it for the basis for the relationship between Kratos and his son.
Considering that God of War is the highest reviewed game on the PS4 ever, it looks like Barlog’s hard work on the game and his education with George Miller paid off. God of War is out today for PS4 exclusively. Also, be sure to check out our article on how Marvel’s Agent Peggy Carter could return, our love letter to Friday the 13th and how we think are the worst MCU villains.