In the new God of War games, Kratos is more mature and less angry. But before he was the Dad of War, he was a big asshole willing to kill anyone or let people die—often in horrible ways—if it meant he could continue his quest. And one poor soul, a nameless boat captain, encountered the terrible Kratos of the past games many times, each time regretting his run-ins. Now, finally, all these years later, Kratos finally admits he was wrong to be such an asshole to the poor boat captain.
—Minor spoilers below for past God of War games and a single diary entry found early on in Ragnarök.—
God of War Ragnarök is very good! I recently reviewed the game and enjoyed how it kept its focus on the relationship between Kratos and his teenage son, Atreus. While the story is epic and filled with violence and monsters, Ragnarök never forgets that the father-and-son relationship is the heart of these God of War games, allowing both of them to grow and change by the game’s end. But before he had a son and long before he started angering Norse gods, Kratos was a brutal asshole in Greece, and one of his first victims was a cowardly boat captain who would end up running into Kratos multiple times throughout the original games.
Early on in Ragnarök, you help free a large, powerful creature from its imprisonment. In the game’s journal menu, where you can read up on character lore and other tidbits of worldbuilding, Kratos records the creature’s freedom and comments on the pain it must have felt being trapped. He also mentions that it reminds him of a boat captain that he “wronged” a long time ago.
This captain first appears in the original God of War. After defeating the large Hydra that attacks the boat you begin the game on, Kratos goes into the creature’s throat and finds the boat captain dangling inside the beast. Kratos is easily able to yank the captain to safety but as the hapless man thanks Kratos for saving him, the warrior screams back that he didn’t come to save him, rips the key off his neck, and drops him down the giant’s throat to die. Y’know, just because.
The captain would show up again later in the first game, dangling above the River Styx in the Underworld. Kratos, who had just been “killed” himself, is falling into the realm of the dead and grabs the captain’s legs to stop himself. He then climbs up the captain, plunging his sword into the man’s back for leverage. And once he’s safe, Kratos kicks the captain into the river below.
Later, in God of War II, Kratos fights the captain during a boss fight when his spirit is summoned into the arena. The captain freaks out upon seeing Kratos again and runs away, only to be killed (I guess you can kill a ghost) yet again by the Ghost of Sparta. And while he doesn’t directly show up in God of War III, you can find a note scribbled by the captain that points out Kratos could have saved him and that the god killer had treated him like “nothing.” He then expressed his hope that Kratos would suffer in Hell.
Now, in God of War Ragnarök, Kratos finally admits that…yeah, he was a huge dick to the boat captain. In his journal, after admitting he wronged him, he also says it was because of “the choices” he made that the captain was “robbed of his freedom” just like the giant creature he just saved. Kratos ponders for a moment if all of us have a monster inside of ourselves and then likely runs off to punch open some more chests and kill more monsters in cool ways.
Look, it’s baby steps for the God of War, okay? Perhaps in 12 more games, he will finally say sorry and even try to help the guy out. Maybe go down to hell and give him some wine or something. Time will tell.