Games have always been an overshadowed medium when it comes to assessing the power of stories.
Whether it's fabled tales of strength and might, or stripped-back stories in a post-apocalyptic world, narrative craft in video games is often overlooked.
However, the release of God of War Ragnarok should signal the end of that prejudice, as the team at Santa Monica Studios has crafted a story that will stand the test of time and be held up as a shining example of how to create a compelling narrative.
Note: this article does NOT contain spoilers for God of War Ragnarok.
I've studied the craft of stories for many years, understanding their form across prose, scripts and poems.
One thing that has always struck me is when the writer - or writers in the case of God of War Ragnarok - permits you to connect emotionally with something completely removed from your life.
The artistry of that is reflecting everyday emotions and projecting them on a grander scale within the narrative, and this is something showcased to perfection in God of War Ragnarok.
The careful crafting of Kratos since his first appearance in 2002 has been both conscious and sub-conscious.
The completion of his arc in the original Greek saga of God of War looked to signal the end of the character, but his successful re-invention in 2018 showcased a shift in mentality.
Kratos has always been a flawed protagonist, but it's the raw exposure of these flaws in the Norse saga of God of War that creates a deep emotional connection with the player.
Whilst he is the driving force in the Ragnarok narrative, the game's multitude of supporting characters help to create an overriding theme that bleeds into the beauty of this story.
Duality of Man
The classic tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is one that can be uncovered in many tales, and this clash - or duality - is prevalent in God of War's narrative.
The game masterfully asks you to question the right and wrongs of each action you take, inviting you to feel empathy for both the protagonists, but also the antagonists.
At the heart of both God of War (2018) and God of War Ragnarok, there is a familial story that chimes with us all.
Whether you're a son that looks up to their father, a father protecting their child, a sibling with poor relations or suffering the loss of a loved one, God of War Ragnarok is a game that invites you to reflect those emotions as you play.
Of course, it is a game that features masterful mechanics, incredible graphics and one of the best combat systems ever put to console, but at its very core, it's a story.
The performances across the board carry the weight of this incredible script, with Christopher Judge as Kratos and Richard Schiff as Odin putting in particularly excellent showings.
Both Judge and Schiff are juxtaposed with their desires, but both portray broken men; one tormented by the past, the other tormented by the future.
That's where the 'duality of man' concept comes in, a notion that suggests we are bound to both good and evil.
God of War Ragnarok shines in many respects, but it's the way in which this duality is explored that makes the narrative stand tall above all counterparts.
Concluding a Saga
God of War Ragnarok treats every moment with brevity and sincerity.
From the opening set-piece to the final line, it is a narrative that perfectly translates the mythology.
The essence of Ragnarok in the tellings of Norse Myth is 'the end times', but it also acts as something of a refresh and cleansing for the nine realms; it is a fable of hope as much as it is a tragedy.
Without spoiling anything, the end of God of War Ragnarok invokes that essence of hope, leaving with you a feeling of genuine satisfaction, something that can't be said for many narratives.
The handling of its characters, the twists and turns of the story and the re-imagining of time-old mythology make both God of War (2018) and God of War Ragnarok a true triumph.
God of War Ragnarok's writers and the creative and directorial team behind the game produced a story that will not only live in infamy in the gaming community, but also as an epic saga that should be credited widely as one of the greatest stories ever told.