Since its inception nearly 15 years ago on the PlayStation 2, the God of War (abbreviated as GOW) continues to be one of my favourite video game franchises of all time, easily in my top 20. Nobody can refute the fact that this franchise didn’t just impress as a new IP back then, but also left an influential footprint in the gaming industry. The original game received universal acclaim from gamers, journalists and even several awards. God of War had a mix of what every gamer wanted to see in a game: mind-boggling graphics (which impress even today for a PS2 title), thrilling music that made your blood pump like a spartan warrior, an enjoyable plot with sequential storytelling, the engrossing atmosphere swathed across the game’s ancient Greek setting and most importantly, the gory, visceral melee action. Everything mentioned so far played an important role in making the franchise the popular household name it is today.
Yet, this franchise, loved by every PlayStation fan AND fanboy, wasn’t the first of its kind. Before God of War (as we know it) was a thing, it was originally going to be called Dark Odyssey back in 2002 until David Jaffe, known for Twisted Metal, appeared and took the reigns for the project. The game took inspiration from a variety of games which frankly do not get as much credit they deserve. These titles helped shape God of War’s gameplay, puzzles, and combat mechanics. Today I’ll be showing you the aforementioned games which defined PlayStation series for what it is renowned for, and with certain pieces of evidence.
1-The Starting Point With Onimusha and Devil May Cry:
Devil May Cry is still inspiring some games out there to this very day, but did you know that it was another Capcom gem, called Onimusha that was behind the successful pizza boy franchise? It all started with a glitch in the combo system when developing Onimusha, leading to the creation of Capcom’s now-beloved hack & slash with the red-coated, white-haired badass Dante. Additionally, Onimusha did inspire the original God of War as well.
This is explored in one of David Jaffe‘s conversations with Eurogamer where he said: ”It was mine. Actually, it was Capcom’s because I played Onimusha and said ‘let’s do that with Greek Mythology’. He repeated the same thing in an OPM interview: ”Originally I had been playing Onimusha and I said, ‘Well, what if we did pretty much a similar game but instead of ancient Japanese mythology, what if we did it with Greek mythology?’”. This sparked developer Santa Monica’s first step into the creation of the series.
GOW borrows many elements from the two Capcom franchises, such as the signature combo system when executing a series of attacks, lifting enemies in the air and slamming them into the ground, and the overall visual flair and design of different combos which rewards the player with a feeling of satisfaction, makes them feel like a badass. DMC blood flows within God of War and it’s obvious to anyone who’s played both.
Also, there’s the upgrade system in the original GOW games which is pretty identical to the Onimusha franchise. In the game, the blood of your foes is a necessity to enhance your weapon abilities and it changes their colour and their form. If you notice, it’s the same thing with Onimusha games. (except Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams where the size and the colour doesn’t change)
Weapons such as Enryu or Raizen will change the form and their colours when upgrading them. Hence unlocking new abilities and stronger magical attacks.
Notice the same thing with the God of War trilogy, except the weapons form remain the same but the colour does not, and their effectiveness increase as well.
2-Ico and Another World’s Puzzles:
It seems that the original God of War director was in love with Ico and Another World‘s puzzle philosophy. This infatuation pushed him to implement these ideas in the original God of War as well while also mixing the latter with great storytelling, intense action, thrilling music, and breathtaking 3D environments that would please any player who was already amazed by Ico’s environment and how its puzzles nudge the player to keep exploring, moving the camera around to find his away around.
Another thing to note is how David Jaffe and his team were aiming to merge Devil May Cry and Ico puzzles together in order to create something different that had never been seen before. This is explored in one of OPM interviews back in 2009 where David Jaffe stated ”I think we can merge these, the visceral nature of DMC with the puzzles and exploratory aspects of Ico.”
David Jaffe also told Eurogamer in an interview ”The biggest inspirations for this game were Flashback and – as you guys called it – Another World, but I’ve always felt that the European audience tend to warm up more to the puzzles and the integrated storytelling and the action and more of the whole experience, so I’m hoping that – not just the press – but Sony marketing and all that can really communicate to the European audience that this is not just a hack and slash game, but that it really has a lot in common with some of those games I just referenced. I feel we can really – if we can communicate that message – we’ll do okay”
He also told OPM a similar thing back in 2010: ”Ico had just come out, and Devil May Cry and we [Feldman, Jaffe and Moss] were fans of those games and that kind of adventure – we wanted to take our studio in that direction.”
It is thanks to these puzzlers that God of War had some cool puzzles which vary from classic to brutal. For example:
This one where the player is required to match these rocks in order to solve the riddle. We can find the same thing in Ico when solving different puzzles, however, the puzzles in Ico takes a bit of time since the camera doesn’t help that much.
Or the brutal puzzles. Although this acts as a tough challenge. However, the whole hell place is seen as a puzzle where it forces the player to scratch their heads when climbing this s**t.
3-Rygar’s bravery and Conan’s brutality:
Kratos is absolutely one of the most violent characters out there. The game is on the same level as other violent games such as Manhunt, Mortal Kombat, Shadow of Rome and other games. However, did you know that Kratos shares some similarities with Rygar and Conan the Barbarian?
Both Conan and Kratos share that connection of enjoying battles with fierce enemies, beheading them, and chopping them into pieces. It is no coincidence that Jaffe himself stated how he wanted to make something brutal and gore-ish which has that Conan the Barbarian Vibe. He told Eurogamer ”I haven’t really seen that vibe, not only in games but it used to be such a prevalent theme in books in the ’70s and ’80s and in movies and things like that. But lately – at least in America – things have become so politically correct that I was really jazzed about doing that was more a throwback to that more animalistic, kind of brutal Conan The Barbarian kind of vibe”
Not only that but also for those who are familiar with Conan the Barbarian, they’ll realise that both Kratos and Conan are nearly naked. They’re running around in underwear slaying anything that moves. From regular humans to demons and other gigantic creatures. That being said, this behaviour makes them both act like a barbarian who is after one thing, blood. Although the new God of War game made Kratos look calm, and a patient father towards his son Atreus.
(Picture was taken from Conan the Barbarian Comic)
It is known that Kratos had sex in all of his games, and we have seen it, and maybe others did something naughty afterwards, but did you know that Conan is as sexual as Kratos? If you have played Conan (2008) or familiar with the comic, you’ll realise that what I’m saying is true. We can’t share explicit naughty pictures, sadly, but I think you get the idea. Although it’s funny how God of War lets you press buttons when having sex which I myself find interesting and unique.
III-Diskarmor and Blades of Chaos:
Diskarmor and Blades of Chaos are essential weapons for Kratos and Rygar and without a doubt, they’re still amongst one of the uncommon weapons ever created. Apart from this, did you know that the Blades of Chaos borrows some elements from the Diskarmor? As I mentioned before in the Devil May Cry and Onimusha segment concerning the upgrade. Turns out, the Diskarmor has the same features. In addition to this, Rygar used to catch his foes with his weapon and slam them into the ground way before Kratos ever did. Back when the original God of War just came out, a minority of fans used to call it ”a Rygar clone ‘ until the term disappeared with the success of the God of War franchise. Furthermore, if you haven’t played Rygar on the PS2, you will not realise that the grappling technique in God of War 2 is the same as Rygar. They both operate identically the same. Let’s check this simple comparison.
During your playthrough in Rygar, you will obtain the ability to grapple on certain flashing orbs-like that are displayed in various locations in the game, and they vary in colours as well as their usefulness.
You can notice the same thing with Kratos since he can do the same thing by grabbing onto flashing corners using his blades. So, doesn’t it look obvious that Rygar has also played a significant role in influencing God of War 2? There’s also the possibility that Castlevania Lament of Innocence on the PS2 also played a role in moulding GOW… Especially how the 3D world operates, the fixed camera, the way how Leon Belmont grabs unto ledges with his whip. Without a doubt, these 3 characters (Kratos, Leon, Rygar) share similarities between them.
Another quote from Jaffe where he spoke to Edge back in 2005, clearly states how his admiration for the Japanese developers pushed him to make something similar yet better: “I fully believe that Japan makes the best third-person action games in the world. So we were always holding their games up as our goal, forcing ourselves to try and surpass the bar that companies like Konami and Capcom have set.”
Even if God of War was influenced by too many Japanese games out there, it still remains one of the best games that has also played the role of inspiring other games in the genre. We can’t deny that the music, the environment, and the plot was fascinating to the level where players will be absorbed in front of the screen, unable to stop playing.
4-Something to do with American McGee’s Alice:
Turned out, the eery atmosphere in some of the levels, and the twist in the God of War trilogy did not come out of nowhere. Ken Feldman told OPM back in 2009 “I worked at EA while McGee was working on Alice and I loved the idea of taking something people know, putting a twist on it, and delivering it to a modern audience.”
The world in American McGee’s Alice was disturbing yet intriguing. It looked like an adult version of Disney, but with a strange storyline yet beautiful environment the more the player explores. Speaking of Alice, there’s a third game in development, and only Zeus knows when we will ever see a glimpse of anything about it.
5-The FPS God of War that never happened:
Before God of War 3 was even being made into a full third-person hack & slash, there was this idea of making God of War III play like a first-person shooter game. Kratos would have been equipped with super powerful weapons and would be able to take on enemies and rip them to pieces. Ken Feldman tried to convince SCEA to make the idea become reality. However, they just didn’t see the possibility of fitting with the whole concept. Hence, they declined it. Ken Fieldman stated in a couple of interviews “I liked the idea of bringing more of an adventure element to the first-person genre, and then it quickly became clear that we should probably change.” Would you have been interested in playing it anyway?
In conclusion, God of War borrowed several elements from other games that shaped what it is nowadays. Nonetheless, there are other speculations I stumbled across which suggest that other games inspired this franchise. For example, Legacy of Kain series, Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance, Prince of Persia, and Ninja Gaiden. These are mere speculations from fans I gathered across the internet, and I don’t have any real evidence that proves the latter.
Thank you for reading
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